By Stanford Murrell
Pneumatology (pneuma, spirit) is the study of the Person and work of God the Holy Spirit. Since the beginning of the New Testament Church many Christians are uninformed about the Spirit reflected by the church at Ephesus. When the Apostle Paul asked about this area of their understanding, he was shocked when the response came: “We have on so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost” (Acts 19:2).
The Holy Spirit and Salvation
Of primary concern is the work of the Holy Spirit in the area of salvation as He convicts of sin and calls souls to the Saviour. Because God is gracious any person may be exposed to the external call of the gospel, “Ho every one that thirsteth.” (Isa. 55:1) “Come unto me all ye that labor.” (Matt. 11:28) "The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’” (Rev. 22:17) The external call to salvation is universal in that it is addressed to all people indiscriminately. Christ commands that the gospel be preached to every creature with compassion and clarity. "As ministers of the gospel are messengers between God and man, the first duty devolving upon them is to make a free offer of the grace of God, and the second is to strive with all might that it may not be offered in vain." (John Calvin) The gospel proclaims the terms of grace on which God is willing to save sinner. Though the gospel is freely, fully, and universally proclaimed, it is certain that not all people will come to faith. Nevertheless, a universal call is not inconsistent with a personal election, or non-election, because it is the means to the end in one case, and a ground of condemnation in the other. “The same sun which melts the butter hardens the clay.”
Why Preach the Gospel?
The personal call to salvation through the external preaching of the gospel is addressed to individuals throughout the Scriptures because the way of Divine deliverance is not made known in any other way. Salvation cannot be fully discerned by the works of nature, by acts of providence, by intuition, or by deductive reasoning. The way of salvation can only be known by a Divine illumination from the Holy Spirit of the Scriptures being applied to the heart. That is the normal ministry of the Spirit. There are special cases to this work of the Spirit and that is in relation to those little ones who die. There is hope to believe that those who die in infancy will be in heaven through the graciousness of a merciful God. “Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit; who worketh when, and where, and how He pleaseth; so also are all other elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 10, Section 3; study John 3:3, 5, 6; John 3:8).
In contrast to the external call by which many are called to saving faith but few are chosen to receive it (Matt. 20:16), there is an effectual call to salvation. This effectual call by the Holy Spirit which comes through the Word. Again, this is the normal means by which men are brought into a saving relation to God.
Romans 8:30. “Whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified.”
1 Corinthians 1:9. “By whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son.”
1 Peter 2:9. “Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
1 Peter 5:10. “Who hath called us into His eternal glory by Christ Jesus.”
In 1855, Charles Spurgeon told about an unusual experience he had. "Sometime ago, when I went into the county court to see what they were doing, I heard a man's name called out, and immediately the man said, 'Make way! Make way! They call me!' And up he came. Now, I call the chief of sinners tonight, and let him say, 'Make way! Make way doubts! Make way fears! Make way sins! Christ calls me! And if Christ calls me, that is enough!" “Those whom God hath predestinated unto life; He is pleased in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ, enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh: renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, Chapter 10, Section 1; study Romans 8:30; Romans 11:7; Eph. 1:10,11; 2 Thess. 2:13,14; Eph. 2:1-6; Acts 26:18; Eph. 1:17,18; 36:26; Deut. 30:6; Ezek. 36:27; Eph. 1:19; Psa. 110:3; Song of Sol. 1:4).
An effectual call convicts, convinces, persuades, and enables the soul to close with Christ. The effectual call moves to secure the submission of the soul to God. The effectual call of God is particular, personal, efficacious, irresistible and is extended on the basis of grace. “This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature, being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit; he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, Chapter 10, Section 2; study 2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 2:8; 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 2:5; John 5:25; Eph. 1:19, 20).
What about those not Effectually Called?
“Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet not being effectually drawn by the Father, they neither will nor can truly come to Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: must less can men that receive not the Christian religion be saved, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 10, Section 4; study Matt. 22:14; 13:20,21; Heb. 6:4,5; John 6:44,45,65; 1 John 2:24,25; Acts 4:12; John 4:22; 17:3).
Though it seems a harsh thought that some are not to be found among the elect, no person ever need despair who longs to know something of God's grace and glory. "He that mind's God's glory more than his own good, shall quickly find that God will even obscure His own glory to do him good" (Thomas Brooks) The heart that wants to be saved shall be saved for, "when a God of grace is upon a throne of grace, and a poor sinner stands by and begs for grace, and that in the name of a gracious Christ, in and by the help of the Spirit of grace, can it be otherwise but such a sinner must obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need?" (John Bunyan)
The most common Greek word for grace (charis) literally means, "favor." Grace is the kindly disposition toward man in the mind of God. Grace means that God is for us though we are against Him apart from regeneration. Grace is the operation of a holy and divine influence on the rebellious heart changing the heart and life forever.
As grace may be defined so it may be distinguished.
¨ Common Grace. Common grace is the grace that God shows to all of His creation. The Lord makes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike (Matt. 5:45). A greater or lesser measurer of common grace is granted to all who hear the gospel indiscriminately.
¨ Prevenient Grace. Prevenient grace is the operation of the Spirit on the mind that precedes and excites its efforts to return to God. Prevenient grace anticipates a full disclosure of the gospel to the soul. On the road to Damascus, Saul of Tarus met the resurrected Christ. Three days later, blinded by his experience, Ananias, "a devout man according to the law,"came and stood by him and said to him, "why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Acts 22:12,16) Saul arose. He was baptized. His sins were washed away. He called upon the name of the Lord.
¨ Sufficient Grace. Sufficient grace is that grace which is sufficient to lead to repentance and faith. Some people need much grace to be brought to saving faith for they are gospel hardened by years of sin. And yet, no sinner is too great for the grace of God to convert. There were two thieves crucified with Christ at Calvary and both railed against Him. Later, one repented and cried out, "Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:42,43) There was sufficient grace.
¨ Efficacious Grace. Efficacious grace is that grace which is effectual in producing regeneration and conversion. It involves the idea of active power. Charles Spurgeon tells of how he learned about efficacious grace. "Well can I remember the manner in which I learned the doctrines of grace in a single instance...I can recall the very day and hour when first I received these truths in my own soul--when they were, as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron...One week night when I was sitting in the house of God, I was not thinking much about the preacher's sermon, for I did not believe it. The thought struck me, "how did you come to be a Christian?'--I sought the Lord.--But how did you come to seek the Lord?--The truth flashed across my mind in a moment--I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, 'how came I to pray?'---I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. I did read them; but what led me to do so? - Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith; and as the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make it my constant confession, 'I ascribe my change wholly to God.'"
¨ Habitual Grace. Habitual grace is that grace which is manifested by the indwelling ministry of the Spirit in the heart. When Joseph Parker, the great preacher of London was debating one day in a certain community with the enemies of the Church, a man shouted to him, "What did Christ do for Stephen when he was stoned!" Dr. Parker immediately answered, "He gave him grace to pray for those who stoned him." And it is true. Like the Saviour, Stephen cried out with his dying breath, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." (Acts 7:60)
¨ Cheap Grace. "Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism with church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipline, grace without the Cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate." (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
¨ Costly Grace. "Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man can knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ." (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
Grace brought Christ down from heaven.
Grace stripped Him of His glory.
Grace made the Lord poor and despicable.
Grace made Him bear the burden of sin, sorrow, and shame.
Grace was in all Christ's tears.
Grace came bubbling out of His side with blood.
Grace poured forth from His sweet lips.
Grace came out where the whip smote the Saviour,
Where the thorns pricked His brow,
And where the nails and spear pierced His holy side.
Oh! The unsearchable riches of Divine grace.
CHARACTERISTICS of THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Personality of The Spirit
The Spirit of God is a Person as much as the Father and the Son are Persons. The Divine personality of the Holy Spirit is manifested.
· The Holy Spirit of God Has A Mind
Romans 8:27 “And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God”
· The Holy Spirit of God Has A Will
1 Cor. 12:11 “But all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will”
· The Holy Spirit of God Prohibits
Acts 16:6,7 “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.”
· The Holy Spirit of God Guides
Acts 16:10 “And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.”
The Holy Spirit of God Speaks
Acts 8:29 “Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.” (see also Acts 10:19; 13:2; Rev. 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13, 22).
· The Holy Spirit of God Has Emotions
Romans 15:30 “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.”
· The Holy Spirit of God Can Be Grieved
Eph. 4:30 “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
Various Ministries of the Holy Spirit
The ministries of the Holy Spirit are distinct.
· The Holy Spirit Restrains Evil Through Sanctification
2 Thessalonians 2:13 "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth."
· The Holy Spirit Instructs In Righteousness
John 14:26 "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
· The Holy Spirit Awakens the Sin Saturated Soul to the Need of Salvation as He did with the Philippian Jailer
Acts 16:29-31 "Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."
· The Holy Spirit Convicts of Sin
Acts 2:37 "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
· The Holy Spirit Convinces the Sinner of the need for a Savior as Festus was
Convinced when Paul Preached though He never came to Full Faith in Christ.
Acts 26:28 "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."
· The Holy Spirit Persuades the Heart to come to Christ
Titus 3:5,6 "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour."
· The Holy Spirit Regenerates The Soul
John 3:6-8 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 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 Holy Spirit Sanctifies Each Child of God
Ephesians 3:14-16 "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man."
In all the various ministries of the Spirit it must be remembered that He is sovereign. "The Spirit is like the wind. There is mystery, there is power, and we cannot chart the course of the Spirit. He is sovereign to do as He pleases, just as the wind blows where it lists. He did not use the same method or manner with Savonarola and Knox and Luther and Wesley and Moody. Just as there are hurricanes and zephyrs, so the Spirit storms and soothes. He speaks in mighty tornado or gentlest whisper. The Spirit did not work in the Reformation as He did in the Great Awakening. With Whitefield He blew in one fashion, with Moody in another. The great Awakening was not like the Welsh Revival." (The Wind and the Spirit, by Vance Havner)
THE WORK of SALVATION
The Word and Salvation
In the process of salvation the Holy Spirit is pleased to used means to convey the truth to the heart of the sinner. Sometimes the reading of the Word is sufficient. More often the Lord is pleased to use the preaching of the Word as an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners and of building them up in holiness and comfort through faith unto salvation.
In the fourth century AD there was born in Africa a man who would change the world. The natural product of a Christian mother and a pagan father, he tried to find peace in his troubled heart. At first, he tried to find peace in pleasure. He did what he wanted to do morally thereby breaking the holy commandments of God. Next, he tried to find peace in the pagan religion of Manichaeism. Then he tried logic and education. It was all to no avail. His soul was as restless as the sea until one day in a garden he heard the voice of a child at play saying, "Take and read; take and read." An impression was made upon his mind that he should read the Scriptures. And so it was, in the garden of his friend Alypsius, that Augustine picked up a Bible, opened it at random to Romans 13:13,14 and read these words: "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness [i.e. sexual promiscuity and sensuality], not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts. thereof" Peace finally came to Augustine's soul and he said to a friend, "I have been regenerated." That is the way God works.
A large part of the Christian community believes that Common Grace is sufficient to enable any sinner to do that which will either merit salvation, or at least secure larger degrees of grace, which, if duly improved upon, will result in salvation. Tragically, this view of Common Grace puts the efficiency of salvation primarily in the hands of man so that it cannot be said that salvation is wholly of the Lord. That will not do. God is a jealous God. He will not share His glory with anyone. He will not share the glory of salvation with man. A flawed view of Common Grace diminishes the need for Christ and robs God of His glory. "No man is entitled to a feast of forgiveness and a banquet of pardoning mercy who thinks he deserves them. Those who know they don't deserve them are the only one who will ever have them." (Bob Jones, Sr.)
When I stand before Thy throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own;
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then, dear Lord, shall I fully know--
Not till then--how much I owe.
An alternative view to a system of salvation by good works is to realize that that Common Grace has limitations. Common Grace is only sufficient to convince individuals of sin and of their need of redemption and to render men inexcusable for sin and unbelief. Common Grace is designed to cast all hope upon the crucified Christ.
Lets not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth,
Is to feel your need of Him.
Romans 1:20 “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”
Romans 2:1 “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.”
Acts 14:17 “Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”
The Resistance of the Heart to Common Grace
While Common Grace is designed by God to awaken and incite the sinner to better things it can be resisted. Sin lures unwary souls from the path of righteousness. Though the Holy Spirit warns and entreats, they grieve Him and drive Him away.
Acts 7:51 “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.”
2 Tim. 3:8 “Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.”
FINDING FAITH IN THE FAMILY of GOD
"Faith is that voluntary change in the mind of the sinner in which he turns to Christ. Being essentially a change of mind, it involves a change of view, a change of feeling, and a change of purpose." (A.H. Strong)
¨ There Is An Objective Faith. When Objective Faith is manifested, there is an object on which faith rests (Christ), and a body of truth (the Bible). "Faith rest on a person. Faith is that act by which one person, a sinner, commits himself to another person, a Savior." (Horace Bushnell) In John 11:25 Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life." And the heart says in faith, "I believe."
¨ There is a Subjective Faith. As there is an Objective Faith so there is a Subject Faith as well which expresses a quality or action of the soul. Subjective Faith is honored in the Scriptures.
Matt. 17:20 “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
Luke 7:50 “And He said unto the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”
Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the substance of things hoped for,”
The non-Christian might define faith as belief in that for which there is no proof. Such a definition is inadequate. True faith is belief in what is unseen or not apprehended by the senses. Scripturally, faith is "the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). "Faith is belief on evidence. The best definition of faith is in the abstract. Faith is assent of the mind and consent of the will. This is true of saving faith. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace whereby we receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered to us in the gospel." (David Clark)
¨ Historical Faith. There is a Speculative or Historical Faith that is an intellectual apprehension of faith's moral or spiritual purpose. In Acts 8:13, Simon Magnus was said to believe but he was not saved. James 2:19 teaches that even the devils "believe" and tremble. However they are not saved because the faith that does not lay hold of Christ is not a saving faith.
¨ Temporary Faith. This is a faith that seems to be genuine but is evanescent in character. Good seed sown on the rocky soil illustrates this type of faith.
¨ Saving Faith. The Bible teaches that there is such a thing as Saving Faith that unites the soul to God and issues forth in salvation. This true Saving Faith has the element of affection as well as belief, and the element of will or purpose combined with both.
No dramatic distinction can be drawn between faith and knowledge. Their spheres overlap. No one can believe in a God of whom he has never heard nor in a proposition that has never been considered. No one can believe in a God of whom there has been no intellectual apprehension. On the other hand there must be faith in the trustworthiness of our senses, our faculties, and the processes of thought before any considerable acquisition of knowledge is possible.
Faith is the connecting link between the believer and Christ. “The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, prayer, and other means appointed by God, it is increased and strengthened” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 14, Section 1; study 2 Cor. 4:13; Eph. 2:8; Romans 19:14,17; Luke 17:5; 1 Pet. 2:2; Acts 20:32). The Spirit applies the redemption purchased by Christ by working faith in us and thereby uniting us to Christ.
Gal. 3:26 “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
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:”
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.”
1 John 5:12 “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
Acts 16:3 “Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews that were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.”
Faith is the Instrumental Cause of Justification
One of the great words in Scripture is the word “justification” which conveys the basic concept that God graciously pardons and accepts believing sinners into fellowship with Himself (Psa. 32:1-5; 130; Luke 7:47ff; 18:9-14; Acts 10:43; 1 John 1:7-2:2). Justification includes the pardon, remission (forgiveness) of sins and the non-imputation
(non charging) of all sins to the account of the guilty. It means to be reconciled to God bringing to an end His enmity (hostility) and wrath (cp. Acts 13:39; Romans 4:6f; 2 Cor. 5:19; Romans 5:9). There is a Divine declaration of being just before God. But there is more. Justification freely bestows the status of righteousness to a person which entitles him to all the blessings and privileges of that position (Romans 8:14ff; Gal. 4:4ff).
The ground of justification is found in the fact that God’s law of punishment upon the guilty has been satisfied by the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. Since Christ kept the Law perfectly (cf. Matt. 3:15) He becomes a pure and innocent sacrifice for the sins of others (Gal. 3:13). The obedience of Christ is imputed or charged to the account of the sinner who believes (Romans 4:2-8; 5:19). “Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified; and did, by the sacrifice of Himself in the blood of His cross, undergoing in their stead the penalty due unto them, make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in their behalf; yet, inasmuch as He was given by the Father for them, and His obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for anything in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 11, Section 3; study Heb. 10:14; 1 Pet. 1:18,19; Isa. 53:5,6; Romans 8:32; 2 Cor. 5:21; Romans 3:26; Eph. 1:6,7; 2:7).
It is one of the most glorious truths for all eternity that, “The righteousness of God” (or righteousness from God: cp. Phil 3:9) is given as a free gift (Romans 1:17; 3:21f; 5:17 cf. 9:30; 10:3-10) to all who call upon the Savior in faith. “By this faith a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word for the authority of God Himself, and also apprehendeth an excellency therein above all other writings and things in the world, as it bears forth the glory of God in His attributes, the excellency of Christ in His nature and offices, and the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit in His workings and operations; and so is enabled to cast his soul upon the truth thus believed; and also acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the treatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come; but the principal acts of saving faith have immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving, and resting upon Him alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 14, Section 2; study Acts 24:14; Psa. 19:7-10; 119:72; 2 Tim. 1:12; John 15:14; Isa. 66:2; Heb. 11:13; John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Gal. 2:20; Acts 15:11). "Faith results in peace, assurance, sanctification, and all graces of the Christian life. Faith is an appropriate condition of salvation because an intellectual apprehension and belief of the truth is necessary in order to yield to it and obey it; and a personal trust in God, and purpose toward him is essential to any filial relation." (David Clark)
Romans 5:1 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”
“Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 11, Section 2; study Romans 3:28; Gal. 5:6; James 2:17, 22, 26).
While a person is justified by grace through faith alone, justification itself is no fortuitous event in the life of an individual for, “God did from all eternity decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did in the fullness of time die for their sins, and rise again for their justification; nevertheless, they are not justified personally, until the Holy Spirit doth in due time apply Christ unto them.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 11, Section 4; study Gal. 3:8; 1 Pet. 1:2; 1 Tim. 2:6; Romans 4:25; Col. 1:21,22; Tit. 3:4-7;
A Confession of Faith
"Whereas there is none that doth good and sinneth not, and the best of men may, through the power and deceitfulness of their corruption dwelling in them, with the prevalence of temptation, fall into great sins and provocation’s; God hath, in the covenant of grace, mercifully provided that believers so sinning and falling be renewed through repentance unto salvation." (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 15, Section 2; study Eccl. 7:20; Luke 22:31,32)
Conversion is the turning from sin unto God. Conversion is the human side of that transaction which unites the soul to Christ. Faith, repentance and conversion are human activities. This does not deny that they are supernatural effects. They are both. “Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling, for it is not ye that work but God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”
Some biblical authorities say that turning from sin is repentance and turning to God is faith. It is doubtful if such discrimination is valid. Rather the term repentance covers both. What is repentance unto life? Saving repentance is, “an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things” (The Baptist Confession of 1689, Chapter 15, Section 3; study Zech. 12:10; Acts 11:18; Ezek. 36:21; 2 Cor. 7:11; Psa. 119:6, 128).
Conversion Involves the Whole Person
· There is the intellectual element for there is a sense of sin.
· There is the emotional element for godly sorrow is involved.
· There is the volitional element for the soul must call upon the name of the Lord.
Repentance and conversion mean more than mere sorrow for sin. There is a sorrow of the world that worketh death. Judas had sorrow but no repentance or conversion. True examples of repentance are Job, David, Peter, the prodigal’s son, the penitent thief, and Paul. Each of these individuals experienced not only sorrow for sin, but they turned to God. How much conviction, sorrow, and faith is necessary to conversion? Henry Ward Beecher once said: “How many knots an hour must the wind blow to take the ship out of the harbor? Will ten knots do it? Yes. Will five knots do it? Yes, five knots will do it. Will one knot do it? Yes, one will do it if that is enough to move the ship.” Lydia came by gentle persuasion of the truth blessed by God, but it required an earthquake to move the Philippian jailer (Acts 16).
A Conversion that does not Change
The best terminology confines conversion to the initial stages of the work, when a new principle becomes dominant in the government of the life. "New blessings there may be, new steps, degrees of sanctification, fluctuations, falls and restoration, renewed endeavors and victories; but these are phases of a nature already changed by regeneration; and the first experimental change we call conversion." (David Clark) “This faith, although it be different in degrees, and may be weak or strong, yet it is in the least degree of it different in the kind or nature of it, as is all other saving grace, from the faith and common grace of temporary believers; and, therefore, though it may be many times assailed and weakened, yet it gets the victory, growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith” (The Baptist Confession of 1689, Chapter 14, Section 3; study Heb. 5:13,14; Matt. 6:30; Romans 4:19, 20; 2 Pet. 1:1; Eph. 6:16; 1 John 5:4,5; Heb. 6:11,12; Col. 2:2; Heb. 12:2).
The Order of Events in Salvation
What is the order of events in the process of conversion? Does faith precede regeneration, or must a man be regenerated in order to believe? Does a man turn to God to be saved, or does he turn to God because he is saved? The process of conversion is so complex that many theological prefer to allow some variety in details. What is certain is that logically and chronologically a regenerated life follows, and is the result of, a regenerated nature. Dr. A.H. Strong once offered a simple illustration in an attempt to crystallize the concept. “A candidate for ordination was once asked which came first: regeneration or conversion. He replied very correctly: ‘Regeneration and conversion are like the cannon-ball and the hole—they both go through together.’ This is true however only as to their chronological relation. Logically the ball [regeneration] is first and causes the hole [conversion], not the hole first and causes the ball.”
The True Cause of Conversion
In answer to the question, “What is the efficient cause of a change of heart" the following replies have been offered.
· The Pelagian says, “The human will by itself can save the soul.”
· The Arminian says, “The co-operation of the human and divine wills is what saves the soul.”
· The Roman Catholic says, “Divine grace is deposited in the sacrament of baptism and saves the soul.”
· The Ritualist says, “The Spirit of God operating ordinarily through the Word and the sacraments saves the soul.”
· The Scriptures says that, ”The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and wither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
The true cause of conversion whereby a change is produced in the soul of the sinner is the Holy Spirit who imparts life to the one who is dead in trespasses and sin. Ephesians 2:1 "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sin." In conversion, "The understanding is opened to receive the divine light, the will opened to receive the divine law, and the affections opened to receive the divine love. When the heart is thus opened to Christ, the ear is opened to His word, the lips opened in prayer, the hand opened in charity, and the steps enlarged in all man of gospel obedience." (Matthew Henry)
The Evidence of Conversion
While salvation is by grace through faith alone (Eph. 2:8,9), the faith which brings salvation is not alone for it is accompanied by good works and a life of holiness. The converted person will "walk by new rules, towards new ends, from new principles." (Matthew Henry) Conversion brings a change for all the world to see. "I'm one of your converts," a drunken man slurred at evangelist Sam Jones. "Yes," said the great preacher of the gospel, "you look like some of my bungling work!" Only God can save and when He does there is a definite change in the person. The Bible says that, "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." The conversion or change of a soul reflects regeneration.
While conversion is a Divine work of the Sovereign God, repentance is part of the ongoing Christian experience. "As repentance is to be continued through the whole course of our lives, upon the account of the body of death, and the motions thereof, so it is every man's duty to repent of his particular known sins particularly." (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 15; Section 4; study Luke 19:8; 1 Tim. 1:13,15)
No Sin too Great for the Grace of God
Such is the provision which God hath made through Christ in the covenant of grace for the preservation of believers unto salvation, that although there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation, yet there is no sin so great that it shall bring damnation on them that repent, which makes the constant preaching of repentance necessary (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 15; Section 5; study Romans 6:23; Isa. 1:16-18; 55:7)
Never too Late
"Such of the elect as are converted at riper years, having sometimes lived in the state of nature, and therein served divers lusts and pleasures, God in their effectual calling giveth them repentance unto life." (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 15; Section 1; study Tit. 3:2-5)
A NEW LIFE BEGINS
What Regeneration Is Not
¨ Regeneration Is Not A Change In The Substance of The Soul. "Regeneration is not a physical change. There is no physical seed or germ implanted in man's nature. Regeneration does not add to, or subtract from, the number of man's intellectual, emotional or voluntary faculties. But regeneration is the giving of a new direction or tendency to powers of affection which man possessed before." (A.H. Strong) Prior to regeneration the heart has the capacity to love, but the love is primarily set on self. In the act of regeneration, the heart is transformed so that love is supremely focused upon God and others (Matt. 6:33). The soul has been "created [i.e. regenerated] in Christ Jesus for good works" (Eph. 2:10).
¨ Regeneration Is Not A New Faculty Added To The Soul. The new life that God imparts to the soul must not be conceived as a substance imparted or infused. The new life is a new direction and activity in the affections and will. "There is, indeed a union of the soul with Christ; Christ dwells in the renewed heart; Christ's entrance into the soul is the cause and accompaniment of its regeneration. But this entrance of Christ into the soul is not itself regeneration. We must distinguish the effect from the cause; otherwise we shall be in danger of a pantheistic confounding of our own personality and life with the personality and life of Christ. Christ is indeed our life, in the sense that, after our union with him, our individuality ceases. The effect of union with Christ is rather that our individuality is enlarged and exalted." (A.H. Strong) Jesus said, "I am come that they may have life, and they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)
¨ Regeneration Is Not A Moral Persuasion of Sin, Though That Has Its Place. No one will ever be converted who has not caught sight of sin and self and hates it as a principle and the source of all pollution. Nevertheless, no reformation can ever take the place of regeneration.
¨ Regeneration is not the Co-operation of Human Power with Divine Power. This process is called synergism. Man is not the agency in his regeneration; nor one half of that agency, nor any part of it. He who is dead in trespasses and sin (Eph. 2:1) must be the subject of regeneration. "A dead man cannot assist in his own resurrection." (W.G.T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology 2:503).
¨ Regeneration is not Dependent on the Unity of the Human and Divine Minds. It is God alone who is sovereign in the act of regeneration. It is God alone who can impart life into whomsoever He wills and when he will--even if a person is in the height of open rebellion. In a high handed manner Saul of Tarsus persecuted Christians. He hated the name of Christ until the hour when he was subdued by the Sovereign and began to cry out, "Who art thou, Lord?" (Acts 9:5).
What Regeneration Is
¨ Regeneration is the Instilling of a Life Principle in the Soul. Life precedes birth. The initial act of the Spirit is to quicken or make alive the spiritually dead soul which can then be born again.
¨ John 6:63 "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
¨ 1 Peter 1:23 "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.
Birth is neither the cause nor the beginning of life itself: rather it is the manifestation of a life already existent. There had been a Divine "quickening" before the child could issue from the womb. In like manner, the Holy Spirit "quickens" or makes alive the soul. He imparts spiritual life to it, before its possessor is "brought forth".
James 1:18 "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
¨ Regeneration is First and Foremost the Illumination of the Understanding Concerning Sin and the need for a Savior.
2 Corinthians 4:6 "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
¨ Regeneration is the Elevation of the Heart. "The first and last and closest trial question to any living creature is, 'What do you like?' God out into the street and ask the first man you meet what his taste is, and, if he answers candidly, you know him, body and soul. What we like determines what we are, and is the sign of what we are; and to teach taste is inevitably to form character." (John Ruskin) The Bible confirms what the honest heart must admit. Prior to salvation, there is a love for sin. The heart is filled with all unrighteousness (Rom. 1:29). But after God instills a new life principle in the soul, there is an elevation of the heart towards heaven. It is when God creates a clean heart and renews a right spirit in the soul that the desire is present to "teach transgressors thy ways" so that sinners are converted. (Psa. 51:13).
¨ Regeneration is Absolutely Essential to Salvation.
John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
¨ Regeneration Is Instantaneous. There is nothing gradual about regeneration "although there may be a gradual work of God's providence and Spirit, preparing the change, and a gradual recognition of it after it has taken place." (A.H. Strong). "Conviction of sin is an ordinary, if not an invariable, antecedent of regeneration. It results from the contemplation of truth. It is often accompanied by fear, remorse, and cries for mercy. But these desires and fears are not signs of regeneration. They are selfish. They are quite consistent with manifest and dreadful enmity to God. They have a hopeful aspect, simply because they are evidence that the Holy Spirit is striving with the soul. But this work of the Spirit is not yet regeneration; at most, it is preparation for regeneration." (W.G.T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 2:512)
Eph. 2:5 “Even when we were dead in sins, hath he quickened [lit. made alive] us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;).”
¨ Regeneration Is Irresistible. Man can no more resist the new birth than he can resist his natural birth. God gave us being without the exercise of our power or even our consent being asked in the matter.
Ephesians 2:1 “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;”
Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”
Summary Statement on Regeneration
While regeneration does not change the substance of the soul nor add new faculties, it does produce a moral change, in disposition, in character, in the direction of the soul’s activities. It brings in a new principle of life dominating and regulating the conduct. In short, regeneration imparts spiritual life.
1 John 5:12 “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
“Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ’s active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in His death for their whole and sole righteousness, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 11, Section 1; study Rom. 3:24; 8:30; Rom. 4:5-8; Eph. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:30; Rom. 5:17-19; Phil. 3:8,9; Eph. 2:8-10; John 1:12; Rom. 5:17).
A Definition of Justification
Dr. John H. Gerstner always pointed out in his lectures and sermons the importance of the doctrine of justification. Martin Luther called it that by which "the church either stands or falls." John Calvin said that it was the "hinge of the Reformation." Martyn Lloyd-Jones declared that justification "is the foundation of our whole position and standing with God." So what is justification? Justification is a legal term whereby the person charged with a crime is declared to be without quilt before the bar of justice. In spiritual terms, justification is an external act of God towards the sinner that declares him just and free of legal condemnation before the bar of Divine justice. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1) What a glorious thought there is here. There is no condemnation! Justification does not merely mean forgiveness of sin. It means that God declares us to be entirely without guilt; God regards us as if we had never sinned at all. There is no basis for condemnation! Why? Because of Jesus Christ. In the sight of the Law, Christ paid all the penalties that were demanded. His work is charged to the account of the guilty so that in the sight of the law, justice has been served and the soul is free to go clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. A hymn written by the godly Moravian Count Zinzendorf was translated by John Wesley expresses this truth:
Jesus, Thy robe of righteousness
My beauty is, my glorious dress;
'Midst flaming worlds, in this arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my heat.
Once more, justification is "the forensic, legal declaration of God that we are not only forgiven but guiltless, and that as we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ we shall continue in that condition. In other words, we are given a new standing and a new status in the presence of God." (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, 1899-1981)
'Tis finished, all my guilt and pain,
I want no sacrifice beside.
For me, for me, the Lamb was slain,
And I'm forever justified.
Justification is a sovereign work of divine grace. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury (AD 1100) wrote a tract in order to bring comfort to the dying who were concerned because of their sin. "Question. Doest thou believe that the Lord Jesus died for thee? Answer. I believe it. Question. Doest thou thank him for his passion and death? Answer. I do thank him. Question. Doest thou believe that thou canst not be saved except by his death? Answer. I believe it." Once these inquiring questions were responded to, Anselm addressed the dying soul: "Come then, while life remaineth thee; in his death alone place thy whole trust; in naught else place any trust; to his death commit thyself wholly; with this alone cover thyself wholly; and if the Lord thy God will to judge thee, say, 'Lord, between thy judgment and me I present the death of our Lord Jesus Christ; no otherwise can I contend with thee.' And if he shall say that thou art a sinner, say thou: 'Lord, I interpose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my sins and thee.' If he say that thou has deserved condemnation, say: 'Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my evil deserts and thee, and his merits I offer for those which I ought to have and have not.' If he say that he is wroth [angry] with thee, say: 'Lord, I oppose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between thy wrath and me.' And when thou has completed this, say again,: 'Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between thee and me.'" (quoted by A.H. Strong, Systematic Theology)
There are two basic views of the nature of justification. There is the Subjective or Moral View, and the Objective or Forensic (legal) View. The Subjective View conceives of justification as an internal change in the realm of the spiritual life, while the forensic view considers justification an external change in the realm of legal relations, or the soul's relation to the law of God.
The Subjective View conceives of justification as something that takes place within a person when the guilt of sin is removed by faith in Christ and righteousness is infusion in the soul. Justification continues to take place because of an inherent righteousness or because of what a person is by way of the new nature. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Cor. 5:17).
Opposed to the Subjective View of justification is the Objective or Forensic View which regards justification as, "that judicial act of God by which, on account of Christ, to whom the sinner is united by faith, He declares that sinner to be no longer exposed to the penalty of the law, but to be restored to His favor." Restated, "Justification is the reversal of God's attitude toward the sinner, because of the sinner's new relation to Christ. God did comdemn; He now acquits. He did repel; He now admits to favor." (A.H. Strong) The Forensic View of justification discharges the sinner from the condemnation of the Law. There is a sentence of acquittal for a person right with the law by the substitutionary death of another. The Forensic View of justification assumes to treat a person as righteous because the demands of the law have been satisfied. The Forensic View of justification is not mere pardon but includes pardon.
Three Terms to Remember
There are three important terms to understand in the meaning of forensic justification: Acquittal, Pardon, and Acceptance. Probably the most important of these term is that of acquittal. The sinner must be acquitted before the bar of Divine justice and for good reason. "If justification were nothing more than pardon, and salvation dependent on subsequent character and works, then justification would not be a ground of assurance and therefore not a ground of peace, since salvation would still be entirely uncertain and would rest upon a shifting foundation. Acquittal and acceptance are as necessary as pardon for the peace of justification." (David Clark).
Scriptural Proof of Justification
The Greek word (verb, dikaioo) meaning "to justify," in a forensic [judicial or legal] sense is reflected in the following passages.
Matt. 11:19 “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.”
Matt. 12:37 “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
Luke 7:29 “And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.”
Luke 10:29 “But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?”
Luke 16:15 “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”
Acts 13:39 “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
Romans 3:4 “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.”
Romans 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
Galatians 2:16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
James 2:25 "Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?"
Old Testament Passages
The passages of the Old Testament also present the concept of justification in a forensic or legal way.
Job 9:20 “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.”
Job 32:2 "Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God."
Isaiah 5:23 “Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!”
In all these passages the word “justify” means, “to pronounce righteous,” or, “to acquit." They do not make anyone inherently righteous or holy.
Various positions have been offered as to the ground by which God acquits the sinner.
¨ First Position. Some believe that while faith leads to baptism with its infused grace, the final ground of justification is good works.
¨ Second Position. Some believe that faith itself is the ground of justification. The perfect obedience required by the Law is set aside in the gospel for God is pleased to take faith in lieu of it good works; God is willing to honor faith instead of perfect righteousness. "Faith justifies, because faith includes the whole act of unition to Christ as Savior. It is not the nature of any other graces or virtues directly to close with Christ as a mediator, any further than they enter into the construction of justifying faith, and do belong to its nature." (Jonathan Edwards, The Complete Works, 4:69-73) "Salvation is not offered to us upon any condition, but freely and for nothing. We are to do nothing for it,--we are only to take it. This taking and receiving is faith." (H. B. Smith)
¨ Third Position. Still others define justification to mean pardon, and this pardon to proceed on the ground of the righteousness of Christ. Subsequent acceptance with God, however, is based on evangelical obedience, or obedience of faith.
¨ Fourth Position. Much modern day theology repudiates all expiation (taking away) of guilt by sacrifice, all substitutionary work, and all concepts of any imputation of Christ’s righteousness or the transfer of Christ’s merits to another. The teaching is set forth that a person is justified or acquitted on the basis of his own righteousness as he is led to live a virtuous life by the example and inspiration of Jesus Christ. The ultimate ground of acquittal from the penalty and pain of any sin will be the righteousness performed by following Christ.
¨ Fifth Position. The Scriptures indicate that individuals are justified on the ground of the imputed righteousness of Christ. God does accept a person as righteousness in His sigh but only on the basis of the righteousness of Christ imputed or charged to the account of another. Christ expiated guilt; He satisfied the law, both by obedience and suffering and became a worthy Substitute with blemish so that those, being united to him by faith, are able to partake of His death. His death becomes the death of another; His righteousness becomes the righteousness of another; His obedience becomes the obedience of another. God acquits the sinner, not for anything in the soul, not for anything so imperfect as human faith, works, or merit, but for the perfect and all sufficient righteousness of Christ charged to the account of those for whom He died (Matt. 1:21) This view of justification affords a sure ground of acquittal, a valid basis for assurance, peace and joy. Nothing can invalidate a justification based on a perfect righteousness.
The whole system of substitutionary sacrifices in the Old Testament dispensation-- which were types of Christ’s atoning death--illustrations the concept of justification being rooted and grounded in an imputed righteousness. And there are many passages that speak of Christ as a ransom, as a substitute, as dying in the place of others, as bearing the sins of others, the just for the unjust. Christ was made sin for the elect; He was made a curse for those whom He would save from the penalty, power, and pollution of sin..
Isaiah 53:5 “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.”
Isaiah 53:11 “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Romans 4:6 “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,”
Romans 5:18 “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.”
Romans 5:19 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
Philippians 3:9 “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”
Colossians 1:14 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”
Colossians 1:20 “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
Colossians 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
The Cause of Justification
The means, condition, or instrumental cause of justification is faith. Faith is the instrumental, not the efficient or meritorious cause of justification. Faith is the link, the bond, the nexus, and the attachment between the believer and Christ. Faith is not the ground of justification because the believer’s faith is an imperfect thing; it expiates no guilt, removes no penalty, and is not of the nature of an atonement. But faith unites us to Christ and union with Christ results in justification.
Romans 5:1 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”
Philippians 3:9 “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”
Romans 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
Romans 3:30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
"The marriage of a poor girl to a wealthy proprietor makes her possessor of his riches despite her former poverty. Yet her acceptance has not purchased wealth. It is hers, not because of what she is or has done, but because of what her husband is and has done. So faith is the condition of justification, only because through it Christ becomes ours, and with him his atonement and righteousness. Salvation comes not because our faith saves us, but because it links us to the Christ who saves; and believing is only there link. There in no more merit in the it than in the beggar's stretching forth his hand to receive the offered purse, or the drowning man's grasping the rope that is thrown to him." (A.H. Strong)
Is Justification by Works?
Though the Pauline epistles set forth in the strongest terms possible that the works of the law does not justify man, concern lingers that James teaches that works justify a soul in the sight of God.
James 2:21 “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?”
James 2:24 “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”
James does not contradict Paul when he says these things because he is not discussing the nature of justification, but the nature of true saving faith. James is opposing, anti-nomianism. He is exposing a spurious faith. He is showing the relation of faith and works. He is showing that souls are justified only by such faith as brings forth good works. A working faith as against a dead faith. All people are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. "While we see good works wrought by me, we see faith wrought in man" (Augustine)
The main problem with depending on good works is that they leave a soul ashamed before God for good works are never enough as Adam and Eve remind us. "They made themselves aprons of fig-leaves, before God made them coats of skin. Man ever tires to clothe himself in garments of his own righteousness, before he will take the robe of Christ's. But Adam felt himself naked when God visited him, even though he had his fig-leaves on him." (C. H. MacIntosh, Notes On Genesis)
The Results of Justification
In the act of justification there is the remission (taking away, removal) of sins. "God acquits the ungodly who believe in Christ, and declares them just. This is not to declare them innocent,--that would be a judgment contrary to truth. It declares that the demands of the law have been satisfied with regard to them, and that they are now free from its condemnation." (A.H. Strong) "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is reckoned for righteousness." (Rom. 4:5)
In the act of justification there is a restoration of favor with God. Luke 15:22-24 "Bring forth quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat, and make merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found."
In the act of justification there is a spiritual renewal. Justification is not the eradication of corruption in the nature of the sinner but it is the changing of one's status before God. The sinner is now called a child of the King Oh, what a great honor that is. And when proclaimed far and wide, it brings hope to the heart. "Justification by faith has been the central theme of the preaching in every movement of revival and religious awakening within Protestantism from the Reformation to the present day." (J. I. Packer)
¨ Objection. "To pronounce a man just when he is not just is to empty the transaction of all moral value."
Answer. This accusation proceeds upon the basis that a person must be justified on account of personal holiness, a condition which no one can fulfill. It is Christ who meets the demands of the law and on the ground of His righteousness only can a soul be declared just. But the moral values are not wanting, for justification is inseparable from sanctification. "While Protestant theology distinguishes between what Christ does for us and what He does in us, the two are united and inseparable in fact. The relation of justification to regeneration and sanctification delivers it from any charge of moral emptiness or fictitious procedure. Justification is possible because it is always accompanied by regeneration, and union with Christ and is followed by sanctification." (David Clark)
¨ Objection. "A general acquittal from the penalty of the Law is not consistent with remaining and actual sin in the heart and life which demands a penalty be paid for each transgression."
Answer. Justification is the promise and pledge of ultimate victory over all sin and its eventual eradication. Christ bore the whole penalty of the Law prospectively as well as otherwise which means that justification has an intended force toward an end not yet reached. The grace of God implanted in the soul, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a guarantee that every believer will one day be free of the remains of human depravity. "It must be written large that justification and sanctification are inseparable." (David Clark)
THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS
Sanctification: A Confession of Faith
“They who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, are also further sanctified, really and personally, through the same virtue, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. (study Acts 20:32; Romans 6:5,6; John 17:17; Eph. 3:16-19; 1 Thess. 5:21-23; Romans 6:14; Gal. 5:24; Col. 1:11; 2 Cor. 7:1; Heb. 12:14)
"This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man, yet imperfect in this life; There abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual irreconcilable war; the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. (study 1 Thess. 5:23; Romans 7:18,23; Gal. 5:17; 1 Pet. 2:11)
"In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part overcomes; And so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, pressing after an heavenly, life in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ, as Head and King, in His Word, has prescribed to them." (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 13, Section 3; study Romans 7:23; 6:14; Eph. 4:15,16; 2 Cor. 3:18; 7:1)
The Greek word for sanctification (hagios) means "to purify, to consecrate or set apart." Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby the believer is renewed in the whole man after the image of God. The believer is then enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness. Again, "Sanctification is that continuous operation of the Holy Spirit, by which the holy disposition imparted in regeneration is maintained and strengthened." (A. H. Strong)
The Difference between Justification and Sanctification
There are distinct differences between justification and sanctification.
· Justification is an act Sanctification is a work
· Justification is declaratory Sanctification is experiential
· Justification is done for us Sanctification is done in us
· Justification changes our relation to the Law Sanctification changes our character
· Justification is based on the righteousness Sanctification is the sequence of
of Christ of righteousness
A Vital Connection between Justification and Sanctification
While there are differences between justification and sanctification, there is an essential unity as well. "You cannot take Christ for justification unless you take Him for sanctification. Think of the sinner coming to Christ saying, 'I do not want to be holy"; 'I do not want to be saved from sin. I would like to be saved in my sins"; 'Do not sanctify me now, but justify me now.' What would the answer be? Could he be accepted by God? You can no more separate justification from sanctification than you can separate the circulation of the blood from the inhalation of the air. Breathing and circulation are two different things, but you cannot have the one without the other; they go together, and they constitute one life. So you have justification and sanctification; they go together, and they constitute one life." (A.A. Hodge)
The primary agency and means of sanctification is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. However, the Scriptures and personal acts of responsibility are also involved in the process.
John 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”
Acts 20:32 “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”
2 Timothy 3:15 “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
James 1:21 “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”
1 Thessalonians 5:28 “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly.”
Hebrews 13:20 “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,”
Heb. 13:21 “Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Ephesians 5:26 “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,”
An Illustration of Sanctification
John 15:4 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”
It has been said that a holy life consists of an unbroken chain of holy moments lived in full harmony with the love of God. At a deeper-life conference in England where Dr. Albert B. Simpson had been asked to speak, the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance was preceded by two men who addressed the issue of Christian victory over sin. One argued at length in support of eradication--the idea that upon sanctification from the sin principle is removed from the human heart, leaving the individual free from sin. The other defended with equal eloquence the idea of suppression--that upon sanctification the Christian is given power to control the sinful nature from eruption. After both men had presented their views, Dr. Simpson rose and suggested in very simple language a third concept: habitation--Christ in the believer, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). Jesus, the Indweller, is our righteousness,. He is made unto us sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30).
All of Grace
What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption? The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are His ordinances (baptism and the Lord's Supper), the Word, and prayer. All are made effectual to the elect for salvation resulting in sanctification. If there is no sanctification, there is no salvation. "Jesus declared that a religion that doen't change a man on the inside is nothing but religious addiction." (Billy Graham) Charles Spurgeon said, "If there is no visible difference between you and the world, depend upon it, there is no invisible difference either."
The Spirit of God makes the reading and preaching of the Word, an effectual means of convincing, converting, and cleansing sinners in order to build them up in comfort and holiness through faith unto salvation. Any Christian neglects these things to the eternal peril of his soul. J. Wilbur Chapman realized this and formulated a standard of conduct. "The rule which governs my life is this: Anything that dims my vision of Christ, or takes away my taste for Bible study, or cramps my prayer life, or makes Christian work difficult, is wrong for me, and I must, as a Christian, turn from it."
Is Man Co-operative in Sanctification?
As salvation is of the Lord, so is sanctification. "Holiness is not human life brought up to the highest level of development, but Divine life brought down to the lowest level of condescension." (Duncan Campbell) Holiness is not the way to Christ; Christ is the way to holiness. But there is this truth: no person is more holy than they want to be.
I rise to walk in heaven's own light
Above the world and sin,
With heart made pure and garments white,
And Christ enthroned within.
When the soul does not flirt with sin, there is a co-operation with the Spirit in the process of sanctification. "Now, I have heard of some professed Christians, wanting to see, they said, the ways of the ungodly, going into low places of amusement, to spy out the land to judge for themselves. Such conduct is dangerous and worse. I must confess, I should feel very much afraid to go into hell, to put my head between the lion's jaws, for the sake of looking down his throat. I should think I was guilty of a gross presumption if I went into the company of the lewd and the profane to see what they were doing." (C. H. Spurgeon)
The effect of sanctification is that it makes individuals holy through holiness comes by growth. It is not instantaneous.
John 13:10 "He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit [i.e., as a whole]"
Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof" Note. "Sin dwells in a believer, but it reigns in an unbeliever." (C H. MacIntosh)
Ephesians 2:21 “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:”
1 Peter 2:2 “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”
2 Peter 3:18 “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.”
Not only does sanctification make individuals holy, it makes them a witness to the world. "The serene silent beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world, next to the might of the Spirit of God." (C. H. Spurgeon) Francis of Assisi (AD 1182-1226) realized the power of a holy life in the hands of the Lord and prayed.
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hate, may I bring love;
Where offense, may I bring pardon;
Truth, replacing error;
Faith, where once there was doubt;
Hope, for despair;
Light, where was darkness;
Joy to replace sadness.
Make me not to so crave to be loved as to love.
Help me to learn that in giving I may receive;
In forgetting self, I may find life eternal.
Sanctification is Perfected at Death
There are significant benefits that believers receive from Christ at death. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves, till the resurrection.
Luke 23:43 “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
Revelation 21:27 “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Though the Bible teaches that "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us," (1 John 1:8), many movements have arisen in Christendom to teach a concept of perfectionism. For example, the name Catharists was given to members of various sects of the Middle Ages, including the Albigenses, who lived an ascetic life in the quest for holiness. Their leaders were known as the Perfect because they were believed to be free from all sins of the flesh and had become the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
Somewhat surprising is the fact that John Wesley taught the possibility of perfection though resisting the idea of sinlessness. Wesley was able to do this by embracing a definition of sin which distinguished between a willful violation of God's known law from mistakes. “Some deviations and transgressions need atonement; but are not sin. I do not call these sin.”
Of course, if imperfections are not sin then they need no atonement, no confession, and no forgiveness. Reformed theologians have consistently pointed out that the Wesleyan concept of perfect love does not exist in reality for any transgression of God's law is sin, whether intentional or not. Wesley's view of an instantaneous sanctification subsequent to justification exalts human ability, minimizes the nature of sin, and lowers the demands of the law.
Man is imperfect in this life. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God? The biblical answer is negative.
Romans 7:15-25 15 “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Galatians 5:17 “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”
Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
Proverbs 20:9 “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?”
Psalm 143:2 “And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.”
Psalm 130:3 “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?”
Ecclesiastes 7:20 “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.”
The prayer of every man should always be, “God be merciful to me the sinner.” The Bible teaches that all unrighteousness is sin. The Fall destroyed man’s ability but not his obligation to do right and be just before God. God’s Law is absolute perfection and there can be no lowering of it.
Matthew 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
Mark 12:30 “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”
Mark 12:31 “And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. “
There is none other commandment greater than these. Can a Christian be perfect? No. The Law drives the soul to the Savior. The Law serves as a school master to teach us of our need for the Savior. The practical duty of individuals is not to be discouraged but to strive for holiness for without holiness no man shall see God.
THE SAFETY OF THE SAINT
A Confession of Faith: The Security of the Believer
“Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, and given the precious faith of His elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance, whence He still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon; not withstanding, through unbelief and temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of the light, and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from, yet He is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palm of His hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity.” (The Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 17, Section 1; study John 10:28,29; Phil. 1:6; 2 Tim. 2:19; 1 John 2:19; Psa. 89:31,32; 1 Cor. 11:32; Mal. 3:6).
John 10:28 “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
John 10:29 “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”
Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”
Philippians 1:6 “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:”
1 Peter 1:5 “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
The Security of the Believer and Election
The final security of the believer is a necessary supposition from the doctrine of election. None of the elect shall ever be lost. There is Divine certainty that the elect shall be justified and glorified. He who predestinates and calls to salvation will do all that is necessary to bring His sons and daughters to glory. The perseverance of the saints from a human point of view is the preservation of the same from a Divine perspective.
Romans 8:30 “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
While the Arminian doctrine is vigorously opposed to the concept of eternal security or the final salvation of the saints, the Scriptures do teach that in the Covenant of Grace, the Father has given to the Son a people, not upon foreseen faith, but upon unmerited grace and sovereign choice.
John 17:6 “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.”
Though the believer’s salvation is secure, there is no license to sin. While God will forgive transgressions, He knows how to discipline His own so that it can be said, “God Doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified, and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure; and in that condition they have not usually the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.” (The Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 11, Section 5; study Matt. 6:12; 1 John 1:7,9; John 10:28; Psa. 89:31-33; 32:5; 51; Matt. 26:75)
The Security of the Believe and Christ
The final security of the believer is also implied in the union that each Christian shares with Christ.
Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
Romans 8:35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
The Security of The Believer And The Atonement
The final security of the believer is implied in the Atonement. It was at Calvary that Christ purchased His own for time and for eternity.
Matthew 20:28 “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
The Security of the Believer and the Will
“This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ and the union with Him, the oath of God, the abiding of His Spirit, and the seed of God within them, and the nature of the Covenant of Grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.” (The Baptist Confession of 1689, Chapter 17, Section 2; study Romans 8:30; 9:11, 16; Romans 5:9,10; John 14:19; Heb. 6:17,18; 1 John 3:9; Jer. 32:40).
"Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favor of God and [in a] state of salvation, which hope of theirs shall perish; yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before Him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which shall never make them ashamed." (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 18, Section 1; study Job 8:13,14; Matt. 7:22,23; 1 John 2:3; 3:14,18,19,21,24; 5:13; Romans 5:2,5)
The Security of the Believer Produces Humility
"This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel; and also upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises made, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; and, as a fruit thereof, keeping heart both humble and holy." (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 18, Section 2; study Heb. 6:11,19; Heb. 6:17,18; 2 Pet. 1:4,5,10,11; Romans 8:15,16; 1 John 3:1-3)
The Security of the Believer Provides no License to Sin
"This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it; yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given to him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of means, attain thereunto: and therefore it is the duty of every one to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance; --so far is it from inclining men to looseness." (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 18, Section 3; study Isa. 50:10; Psa. 88; Psa. 77:1-12; 1 John 4:13; Heb. 6:11,12; Romans 5:1,2,5; 14:17; Psa. 119:32; Romans 6:1,2; Tit. 2:11,12,14)
Confidence in Salvation may be Shaken by Sin
"True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, or intermitted; as by negligence in preserving it, or by their falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieves the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God's withdrawing the light of His countenance, and suffering even such as fear Him to walk in darkness and to have no light, yet, are they never destitute of the seed of God and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived, and by the which, in the meantime, they preserved from utter despair." (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 18, Section 4; Song. 5:2,3,6; Psa. 51:8,12,14; Psa. 116:11; 77:7,8; 31:22; Psa. 30:7; 1 John 3:9; Luke 23:32; Psa. 42:5,11; Lam. 3:26-31)
Those who oppose the final perseverance of the saints appeal to selected Scriptures.
Ezekiel 18:25 “Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?”
Matthew 13:20 “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;”
Matthew 13:21 "Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended."
Hebrews 6:4 "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."
1 Corinthian 9:27 "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
The Adoption of the Believer
Adoption is a specific act of our merciful God which is distinct from calling, regeneration, and justification. The Greek term (huiothesia) occurs five times in the New Testament.
Romans 8:15 "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
Romans 8:23 "And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
Romans 9:4 "Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenant, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises."
Galatians 4:5 "To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."
Ephesians 1:5 "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will."
Adoption is that gracious act by which individuals are made children of God with specific authority and rights being bestowed (John 1:12). When the heart understands the concept of biblical adoption it can only say in astonishment, "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called children of God." And we are called the children of God (1 John 3:1 cf. Eph. 1:5).
The Spirit of adoption is the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). The act of adoption is necessary in order to establish filial (family) status. By regeneration, individuals are made members of the kingdom of God (John 3:3,5) but by adoption, they are made members of His family (Gal. 4:5-6) with the privilege of crying out, "Abba, Father". There is glory for all who are part of the family of God (Rom. 8:19). Each will be conformed to the image of God's own Son as the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:29). (Baker's Dictionary of Theology, "Adoption," John Murray) What a joy it is to know that, "All those that are justified, God vouchsafed, in and for the sake of his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of children of God, have His name put upon them, receive the Spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, and are enabled to cry, 'Abba, Father!, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by Him as by a Father, yet they are never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation." (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 12; study Eph. 1:5; Gal. 4:4,5; John 1:12; Romans 8:17; 2 Cor. 6:18; Rev. 3:12; Romans 8:15; Gal. 4:6; Eph. 2:18; Psa. 103:13; Prov. 14:26; 1 Pet. 5:7; Heb. 12:6; Isa. 54:8,9; Lam. 3:31; Eph. 4:30; Heb. 1:14; 6:12)
BAPTISM AND THE LORD'S SUPPER
The Ordinances: Definition
What is an ordinance? A holy ordinance is an official rite instituted by Christ; wherein, by reasonable physical signs, Christ and the benefits of the new covenant are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.
The Roman Catholics prefer speak of seven sacraments:
· Lord’s Supper
· penance (including absolution)
· and extreme unction.
Protestant theology maintains that there are two ordinances to be observed: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These two practices were given a significant place in the spiritual life of the early church (Acts 2:41-42; 20:7,11; 10:47). “Baptism and the Lord’s supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only law giver, to be continued in His church to the end of the world. These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ.” (The Baptist Confession of 1689, Chapter 28; Section 1, 2; study Matt. 28:19, 20; 1 Cor. 11:26; 1 Cor. 1).
In distinct contrast, The Baptist Confession of Faith vigorously denies that Christ is crucified afresh in the Lord’s Supper. “Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this ordinance, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally and corporally, but spiritually receive, and feed upon Christ crucified, and all the benefits of His death; the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally, but spiritually presented to the faith of believers in that ordinance, as the elements themselves are to their outward sense.” (Chapter 30, Section 7; study (1 Cor. 10:6; 11:23-26)
¨ The Lutheran View. According to Lutheran theology, faith on the part of the recipient is a necessity in receiving or administering baptism and the Lord's Supper. Baptism is efficacious if not resisted. Infants are incapable of resisting, so baptism is efficacious to them but, in years to come, salvation may be forfeited by neglect, unbelief, or bad conduct in the after life.
In the matter of Communion, Lutheran theology teaches the doctrine of Consubstantiation, which declares that Christ's glorified humanity, is in, with, and under the bread and wine, in the Lord’s Supper. In the act of communion, the Consubstantiation is local, temporary, and confined to the sacramental occasion. Afterwards the elements are common bread and wine once more and do not need to be preserved or treated in any special manner. The glorified body of Christ partakes of the infinity and omnipresence of His divine nature, so everywhere present and inexhaustible. The body and blood of Christ may thus be received by the believer and unbeliever alike but is of benefit only to the former.
¨ The Baptist View. Baptist theology has consistently held that the elements are simply bread and wine and nothing more literal. “The outward elements in this ordinance, duly set apart to the use ordained by Christ, have such relation to Him crucified, as that truly, although in terms used figuratively, they are sometimes called by the names of the things they represent, to wit, the body and blood of Christ, albeit, in substance and nature, they still remain truly and only bread and wine, as they were before.” (The Baptist Confession of 1689, Chapter 30, Section 5; study 1 Cor. 11:27; 1 Cor. 11:26-28).
Though the elements used in the Lord's Supper are always literal, they do convey great spiritual truths for they represent the body and blood of Christ in a symbolical way. The presence of Christ in the sacrament is not in the elements but in the heart of the believer. Partaking of the bread and wine signifies spiritual participation in the benefits of Christ’s death or atonement. There should be no thought of any transubstantiation or consubstantiation. The Baptist heritage is stated very plainly on this point. “That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ’s body and blood, commonly called transubstantiation, by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense and reason, overthroweth the nature of the ordinance, and hath been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions, yea, of gross idolatries.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 30, Section 6; study Acts 3:21; Luke 24:6, 39; 1 Cor. 11:24,25).
The Presbyterian faith agrees. "To eat of the feast is to partake of the sacrifice, and so to be His guests to whom the sacrifice was offered, and this in token of friendship with him. Thus to partake of the Lord's table is to profess ourselves His guests and covenant people. This is the very purpose and intention of this symbolic eating and drinking; it is holding communion with God, and partaking of those privileges, and professing ourselves under those obligations, which result from the death and sacrifice of Christ; and this in conjunction with all true Christians, with whom we have communion also in this ordinance." (Matthew Henry)
The ordinances, when properly administered are symbols of truth, or of the facts of redemption. They are signs and seals of a covenant. The ordinances are channels of grace. The efficacy is not in them, nor in the administration, but through them as the Spirit conveys grace to them who exercise true faith.
The ordinances are memorials, like the rainbow in the sky after the Flood, or the pile of stones on the bank of the Jordan. The elements in the Lord's supper are badges of men’s profession. The Baptist Confession of Faith agrees with this view. “In this ordinance Christ is not offered up to His Father, nor any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sin of the quick or dead, but only a memorial of that one offering up of Himself by Himself upon the Cross, once for all; and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God for the same. So that the popish sacrifice of the mass, as they call it, is most abominable, injurious to Christ’s own only sacrifice the alone propitiation for all the sins of the elect.” (Chapter 30, Section 2; study Heb. 9:25, 26, 28; 1 Cor. 11:24; Matt. 26:26, 27)
Because Christ does not want the Church to forget the great work He accomplished at Calvary, believers are encouraged to go often to the Cross and remember “The supper of the Lord Jesus was instituted by Him the same night wherein He was betrayed, to be observed in His churches, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance, and shewing forth the of Himself in His death, confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in
Before the Cross in awe I stood,
Beholding brow and pierced hand;
For me it was He bled and died,
No other price for sin beside,
Could pay the price for me.
His precious blood, there flowing red,
Was love's best gift most freely shed;
No one but He the price could pay,
On save from death and point the way
For sinners, you and me.
The ordinances become effectual means to salvation, not by any virtue in them, nor in him that doth administer them, but only by the blessing of Christ and the working of His Spirit in them by that faith receive them. All faiths and positions do unite in affirming that the Lord’s Supper in particular is to be received with great reverence. “All ignorant and ungodly persons, as they are unfit to enjoy communion with Christ, so are they unworthy of the Lord’s table, and cannot, without great sin against Him, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto; yea, whosoever shall receive unworthily, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, eating and drinking judgment to themselves.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 30, Section 31; study 2 Cor. 6:14,15; 1 Cor. 11:29; Matt. 7:6).
A formal definition of baptism might include the concepts that baptism is an ordinance wherein the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, signifies and seals the engrafting of a soul into Christ, and the partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace and our pledge to be the Lord’s.
The Mode of Baptism
Much discussion has been offered over the proper mode of baptism as to whether or not the subjects should be sprinkled or immersed. The classical usage of the word “baptizo” often expresses immersion but not always. The word is used about 90 times in the New Testament and therefore has a New Testament usage.
To Dip? Or, To Immerse?
Those who favor dipping as the proper mode of baptism appeal to various passages to support their position relying on the use of the term.
Luke 16:24 “And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”
John 13:26 “Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.”
Mark 7:4 “And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables.”
However, there are other passages where dipping is doubtful and some form of immersion is more probable. “The outward element to be used in this ordinance is water, wherein the party to be baptized, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Immersion, or dipping of the person in water, is necessary to the due administration of this ordinance.” (The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 29, Section 3,4; study Matt. 28:19,20; Acts 8:38; Matt. 3:16; John 3:23). In the act of immersion, baptism speaks of going completely under the waters of judgment and death, and rising to newness of life in Christ. Baptism is an unconditional commitment to the living Christ.
Matthew 3:16 "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:"
Acts 8:38 "And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing."
Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:”
Romans 6:4 "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
Colossians 2:12 "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead."
To whom is baptism to be administered? Many believe that baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, till they confess their faith in Christ, and obedience to Him. “Those who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance.” (The Confession of Faith of 1689, Chapter 29, Section 2; study Mark 16:16; Acts 8:36,37; 2:41; 8:12; 18:8).