The Sovereign Grace Gospel
The Sovereign Grace Gospel
The Gospel that is preached in many places of the world today is not the Gospel of the Bible. Too many of the gospels of Christianity – or those false religions that may seek to be included in Christianity – are only gospels of works of man, gospels of the worth of man, gospels of the religions of man, or gospels of the science or wisdom of man. These are not true gospels – these are only exercises in futility, attempts at morality, or ventures in humanism. Men of every generation have sought out false gods and false religions to ease their minds, or in order to replace the God of Creation in their lives. The same is true with Christianity today: their religion presents a very small god, while proposing a capable and determined man. This is anti-Scripture, and effective only in the confusion and loss of the souls of men. The most that can be accomplished in such worldly religions would be an improvement in the moral behavior or attitudes of some men and women, and perhaps a temporary or mortal peace that may be achieved by some in the pursuit of false religions and false gospels of salvation.
Even though there are false gospels; and even though there may be a more prominent and positive worldly response to such false gospels; we who are the Children of God – especially, we who are in the Churches of Jesus Christ – must proclaim the One True Gospel. Though the world will hate us, we must give to them the only Gospel that they truly need. What a paradox that man and sin has created! The very Gospel of the salvation of man, is the very gospel that the world of men hates the most! And yet, the Lord will save men, and He will save them only through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What a mighty Gospel it is! What a sovereign and powerful God we serve! His Will shall be accomplished, and His people shall be called out and saved. Our God is Sovereign; His Will is Sovereign; and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is Sovereign.
The Sovereign Grace Gospel – as opposed to the false gospels of religious men – is on display for us in the Bible, especially in the NT. Paul spoke of another gospel in his epistle to the Churches of Galatia: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:6-9.) When we hear the Gospel presented today, we need to examine that Gospel to see whether it is the True Gospel or a false gospel. How do we know the origination of that gospel?
Today, I want us to look at some things that are pertinent to the Preaching of the Gospel. These things that I will mention today, are questions that we should ask concerning the Gospel that we hear others preached. These things that I will mention today are questions that we should ask ourselves and the Church that we are a member of, as we consider the Gospel that we and our Churches preach.
Is it of man?
A problem with Religion today, is that, for the most part, it presents a gospel that is not of God, but is rather of man. When I say that the gospel that is Preached today is of men, I mean that it is of men in that it originated with men; and I mean that it is of men in that it Focuses on men and the Abilities and Works of men.
How do we know that there are gospels in this world that are of men? Well, there are many man-made gospels in the world today, and they can be determined by observing their Origination and their Emphasis.
As far as the Origination of these gospels of men, we can see that due to the abundance of different Denominations and the abundance of Doctrines and Practices that are preached today, there must be something here that is of man. The Apostle Paul, when he was speaking of the Order that should be in the Church, said, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1Cor. 14:33.) Now, many people today Preach that we should be tolerant of, and allow without rebuke, any Doctrine or Practice of men, all for the sake of the Ecumenical Movement that is rampant today. However, to those of you that believe that we can do whatever we want, and Preach whatever we want, and still be Preaching the same Gospel, let me ask you this: How can an Immutable and Infallible God, be the God of Different and obviously Opposing Gospels? There can only be one Right way in the case of every Doctrine and Practice. God is not the Author of the False or Heretical teachings that are taught today, and therefore He has no part with those false gospels that Preach and Promote these Errors that are so popular today. Paul told Timothy, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” (1Tim. 4:1-2.)
As far as the Emphasis that man puts on man in the gospel of men, let me make the following observations: Any gospel that is of man, will incorporate some measure of man and his abilities or his work, into the gospel that is preached. This is not the True Gospel. Any time that man presents a gospel that includes, or makes allowances for, the works of man – at least as far as Salvation goes – that gospel is the gospel of man. Paul told the Romans, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” (Rom. 11:6.) There can, in reality, be no mixture of Works and Grace. The idea of Grace precludes any thought of Works. And the doctrine of Works completely prevents any presence of Grace. The two cannot mix. They are like oil and water. When a man, or a church, or a people preach a gospel that relies on any Work of man in order for Salvation to be obtained, then that gospel is not a gospel at all – except to say that it is a gospel of man.
You see, the Gospel of the NT is a Gospel that does not emphasize man, and the Choices or Decisions of men, but it is one that Presents to men their desperate condition and the fact that their only Hope lies in Christ Jesus. Man is not the Focus – Jesus Christ is the Focus. Paul said, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2Cor. 4:3-5.)
Does it imitate the Gospel of the NT?
I like to think that we can discover which Churches are preaching the Gospel of Christ, by examining the Gospel that they Preach, and comparing it to the Gospel that was Preached by the Lord Jesus and His disciples while He walked on this Earth, and also the Gospel that was Preached in the early Churches in the Book of Acts.
Concerning the Preaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, we read this: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mk. 1:14-15.) And then we read concerning the Preaching of the Disciples: “And they went out, and preached that men should repent.” (Mk. 6:12.) And we read concerning the first Church in Jerusalem and Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38.) It seems that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Disciples, and the Church at Jerusalem knew that it was imperative to Preach Repentance as a part of the Gospel. I believe that any Church that Preaches the Gospel today, must Preach that men are sinners, and that therefore there is a Need for Repentance. This is not emphasized today, or if Repentance is mentioned, it is mentioned as something that every person can do on his own. Today, men are not considered totally depraved. Instead they are considered to be men that are Wicked, but still possessing the Ability to turn from their sins. This is not what the Gospel presents. It presents a humanity that is Totally Depraved, and that must Repent and Believe on Jesus Christ, and forsake all designs of personal Merit or Ability to save oneself.
The Gospel of the NT is one that Preaches a Saviour that has died and risen again for the sins of His people. “And as they spake unto the people, the priest, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” (Acts 4:1-2.)
If we go on and look at more of what the Lord Jesus, the Apostles, and the Churches of the NT Preached, then we can see that all of the Gospel is summed up in one Name and one Person. The Apostles and the First Church in Jerusalem Preached Jesus Christ. We are told in Acts 5:42, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” The Apostle Paul would later say to the Corinthians, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
Does it magnify God?
Any Gospel that is Preached should have as its goal the Glory of our Almighty God. If a gospel does not Magnify God, then it is not the True, Unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul says in 1Cor. 1:23-24, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” Then Paul goes on to tell us later, concerning the calling out of the Saints, and the manner in which they are called out, “That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1Cor. 1:29-31.)
Most of Christianity presents a gospel to the world that allows for the Works, the Efforts, and the Worth of man. In doing this, Christianity is not glorifying God, but glorifying man. I know that most churches, denominations, and preachers that Preach this Arminian Doctrine of Salvation will say that they are Glorifying God. They want us to think that the gospel that they Preach glorifies God, because they speak of the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. My answer is this: How can their false, Arminian gospel glorify God, when the effectiveness of that Salvation hinges upon the Merit, the Works, the Efforts, or the Worth of any particular sinner?
Let me also say that it seems to me that most of Christianity today, preaches the gospel of man in order that they might glorify man in that they want to receive credit for what they seem to have accomplished in the service of the Lord. They preach to lost souls, with the hope of saving those souls so that they can claim those souls as the fruit of their labors – and thereby bring recognition and public acclaim to their own ministries.
Conclusion: The Sovereign Grace Gospel
What I want to close with, is a consideration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the response of the men who hear it.
So often today, Salvation is presented as a choice that men make. I know that the Bible constantly cries out to men and women to Repent and Believe. I know that men are required (yea, they are commanded) to be Obedient to God and to Obey His Commandments. But, let me say that when Salvation is come to any man, it is not a Choice that he makes, but it is a Choice that God makes. In other words, we do not Choose God, but He Chooses us. The Lord Jesus told His disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (Jn. 15:16.)
The fact that God has chosen His people (and they have not first chosen Him) is undeniable. Paul told the Church of the Thessalonians, “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: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2Thess. 2:13-14.) We can see from these verses that the Choice was God’s to make, and that He made that Choice from the beginning. Now, if He made that Choice from the beginning, then it must be that His Choice of us, preceded our Choice of Him. Therefore, our Choice of Him can only be a result of His Choice for us. John the Beloved says similarly, “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1Jn. 4:19.)
We can also see from these verses in 2Thess. 2:13-14, that the Lord Chose us, and then called us by the gospel. (Paul is not saying in this verse that the Gospel is his gospel, or the gospel of man. But, Paul is saying that this Gospel is our gospel, signifying that the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ was what he preached.) Therefore, since he is Preaching the Choice and Election and Predestination of God; and since he is Preaching the True Gospel; then we must admit that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a Gospel of our Choice of Him – unless one would admit that He first Chose us, and then we responded to His Choice of us.
I believe that I can also say that Salvation should not be considered a Choice in the case of any individual saint of God as far as saying that any individual has a True, Legitimate Choice to make, and that that Choice is the one Choice that will decide our Fate at the Hands of God. I think that when the Lord works with an individual, and that person’s spirit is quickened and made alive, there really is no Choice to be made. That individual sees the Salvation that is provided by the Lord Jesus Christ, not as a Choice, but as a Desperate Need. The Philippian Jailer “…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?” He did not see Salvation as a Choice that he must make, but he saw it as a Need that he had, and the only Recourse for one that was Lost and Undone, and Dead in his trespasses and sins. There was nothing else that he could (or should) do! He must come to the Lord Jesus – Repent of his sins and believe on Him as the Christ and Saviour! Our need for Him as our Saviour and Lord is irresistible and He is Irreplaceable as our Redeemer – there is no “choice” for us to make, because there is no alternative! Maybe we could say that we have a picture of salvation – an example of men who have no choice but only a need – at the Mount of Transfiguration. As Peter, James, and John were confronted with the power and glory of Jesus Christ (and their own helplessness), the realized their singular need and sole hope was Jesus: “And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.” (Matt 17:7-8) There was also a time when the Lord Jesus Christ asked His disciples, “…Will ye also go away?” (Jn. 6:67.) Peter answered Him and said, “…Lord to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Jn. 6:68-69.) There is none for us, but Christ! There is no Gospel of Salvation, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ!