LIFE BROUGHT TO LIGHT

by
W. E. Best


Copyright 1992
W. E. Best

Scripture quotations in this book designated "NASB" are from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, and 1977 by the Lockman Foundation, and are used by permission. Those designated "translation" are by the author and taken from the Greek Text. All others are from the King James Bible.

This book is distributed by the
W. E. Best Book Missionary Trust
P. O. Box 34904
Houston, Texas 77234-4904 USA

CONTENTS

1 Introduction

2 Instruction To Declare Life Brought To Light

3 The One Who Has Saved Us

4 The Effectual Call Of Life To Light

5 Effectually Called By Jesus Christ

6 The Effectual Call Illustrated

7 Effectual And General Calls Contrasted

8 Effectually Called By The Gospel

9 Effectually Called To Faith

10 Effectually Called To A Holy Life

11 Salvation On The Basis of God's Purpose

12 Salvation On The Basis Of God's Grace

      Various Interpretations Of The Way To Obtain Grace

      The Common Grace Controversy

13 Grace Given In Christ Jesus

14 Grace Given The Elect Before The Times Of Ages

15 Grace Made Manifest

      Christ Canceled Death

      Christ's Continuing Life

16 The Method Of Bringing Life And Incorruption To Light

      Life Brought To Light By The Gospel

      Incorruption Brought To Light By The Gospel


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1

 

INTRODUCTION
II Timothy 1:8-10 --

Therefore be not ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but suffer with [sugkakopatheson, aorist active imperative of sugkakopatheo, a compound verb with the prepositional prefix sun, meaning with, and the verb kakopatheo, meaning to suffer afflictions or to show endurance in trials and afflictions] me in the gospel according to the power of God; The one who has saved [sosantos, aorist active participle of sodzo, which means has saved] us, and who has called [kalesantos, aorist active participle of kaleo, which means has called] us with a holy calling [klesei, instrumental of klesis, which means call, calling, or station in life], not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His own purpose [prothesin, accusative feminine singular of the noun prothesis, meaning God planned or prepared before time] and grace [charin, accusative feminine singular of the noun charis, which means grace, free favor, or gift] having been given [dotheisan, aorist passive participle accusative feminine singular of didomi, which means to give, grant or bestow] to us in Christ Jesus before [pro, which means before or prior to] the times of ages, But now having been made known [phanerotheisan, aorist passive participle of phaneroo, which means to reveal, make known, or appear] by the coming of our Savior Christ Jesus, on one hand who has canceled [katargesantos, aorist active participle of katargeo, which means to nullify, cancel, destroy, or abolish] death, on the other having brought to light [photisantos, aorist active participle of photidzo, which means to bring to light] life and incorruptibility [aphtharsian, accusative of aphtharsia] by means of the gospel.--(translation)

 

The design of the gospel was not that it should be the means of giving the principle of life but that it should bring the gift that was given by the sovereign Spirit to light. God's order of salvation and the purpose of the gospel is recorded in II Timothy 1:8-10. There is order in God's provision and application of redemption. Regeneration is the gift of life. Faith is the fruit of regeneration that responds to the effectual call, which brings the individual into fellowship with Jesus Christ.

 

There is not one particular passage of Scripture which contains God's complete order, not even Romans 8:28-30, II Timothy 1:9, or Ephesians 1:13-14. Many things about order appear in those portions of Scripture, but they do not record God's complete order. God's complete order is discovered in the whole testimony of the Lord. Bible doctrine must never be built on an isolated passage of Scripture that contradicts God's original principle. Therefore, the study of soteriology--the science of salvation--must be viewed in the light of the whole counsel of God and not based on fragments of Scripture. Heretics thrive on fragments because they know what the full revelation of truth will do to their man-made schemes.

 

Error, schism, and heresy differ. Error is an opinion held alone. Schism is the consent of many; it also offends and separates. Heresy strives to root out all truth; it offends, separates, and rages. Heresy may become so rampant that it would like to stamp out every individual who opposes a certain view. It is the leprosy of the head described in Leviticus 13. The true minister of God would rather his tongue be silenced forever than to be guilty of heresy.

 

A heretic may be discerned from a Christian. The heretic will always look for a verse of Scripture that is somewhat difficult to understand, build his doctrine on that verse, and interpret all the plain passages of Scripture in the light of a difficult text. However, a Christian looks for plain statements of Scripture, principles that are plainly set forth in Scripture, and builds his doctrine on plainly understood verses. When he comes to a verse that is difficult for him, he will say, "I cannot go contrary to all the verses that are so plainly taught on this particular doctrine." Many Christians come to a settled position on some doctrinal subject and refuse to investigate it any further. They miss many blessings available to them through continued study.

 

Nothing can make a person more unpopular than his insisting on a definition of terms. On the other hand, religious assembly members in general are horrified by a preacher's use of theological terms. They seem to think a preacher should address his congregation in words of one syllable. Many preachers use barnyard philosophy to bring their messages down to the level of the "wild asses"--people of the world. Every field of science teaches that the students studying that particular science must learn the definition of terms and words that are used to better define what they are learning. But religionists want spiritual truths simplified. Conversely, Christianity flourishes in the revelation of the light of God's word. Ignorance, on the other hand, flourishes in the darkness of human error. Christians who get nothing but practical directions are poorly prepared for life. The more a Christian knows about the Bible, the less he will be deceived by error.

 

Theological research and study of the Bible in order to know Biblical terms that differ is not hair-splitting. Scientists consider it a great honor to spend their lives analyzing the most minute plants and insects in every particular and naming every member of the dissected organism. Their work is never called hair-splitting, but scientific research. There is no complaint against the improvement of scientific research for the improvement of physical life. Why do people call spiritual desire for research into Biblical evidence unprofitable for the spiritual life? The only answer is that it is another tactic of Satan. Satan wants to deceive, and deception is difficult in the light of knowledge. The physician who performs properly must study the human anatomy, and the various parts must be dissected. The Christian must likewise learn the different parts of theology to understand it.

 

This present study of II Timothy 1:8-10 will be about the gift of life and its manifestations. Salvation is a subject greatly misunderstood; therefore, it should be Scripturally considered.

 

God is the Author, Purchaser, and Applier of salvation--"Who hath saved us." The context alone will determine the meaning in each reference where the word salvation is used. Examples of the meanings and usages of salvation must be observed. Salvation--the gift of life--includes the work of the Godhead and excludes the participation of man. The gift of life is outside recipients in its purpose; it is given the elect in Jesus Christ from eternity (II Tim. 1:9). It is outside recipients in its provision; they had no part in it (Rom. 5:15-21). The gift of life is outside recipients in its application; the sovereign Spirit applies the gift of life.

 

The salvation of II Timothy 1:9 includes everything that qualifies the elect to hear the effectual call. The idea that believing is the most important thing in salvation is not only fragmentary but heretical. Salvation--the gift of life--must be purposed, purchased, and applied before it can be believed. It must be applied before there can be any response to the call.

 

God calls the elect--"...and called us..." (II Tim. 1:9). Distinction must be made between regeneration and the effectual call. Regeneration is without means; it is the work of the sovereign Spirit. The effectual call is by the use of the gospel. Since the gospel reaches only the effectually called in power and assurance, one must conclude that the saving effected by the call is not the same salvation that preceded the call. Distinction must be made between the effectual and the general calls. The effectual call goes forth in the power of the Spirit and with much assurance. The general call is by the gospel as it is proclaimed, but it is recognized only by the effectually called. Distinction must be made between preaching and offering Christ. Preaching Christ is without discrimination. Offering Christ is not the privilege of man; the Holy Spirit discriminates in giving Christ. Distinction must be made between inviting and offering. Inviting applies to those who are agreeable with the invitation; it is to the thirsty, hungry, and capable of hearing. Offering is making something available for either acceptance or rejection. Man does not have the prerogative to offer Christ; the Holy Spirit has the exclusive right to give Christ.

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2

INSTRUCTION TO DECLARE LIFE BROUGHT TO LIGHT

Therefore be not ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but suffer with [sugkakopatheson, aorist active imperative of sugkakopatheo, a compound verb with the prepositional prefix sun, meaning with, and the verb kakopatheo, meaning to suffer afflictions or to show endurance in trials and afflictions] me in the gospel according to the power of God.--II Timothy 1:8 (translation)

 

Paul instructed Timothy concerning his preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul's first Epistle to Timothy, his son in the ministry, contains a number of charges. His second Epistle has many challenges. Paul's armor had worn threadbare fighting the good fight of faith, and he was coming to the end of his warfare on earth. He hoped Timothy would take up where he left off. Therefore, Paul made many appeals to him and challenged him: (1) Do not be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord (II Tim. 1:8). (2) Hold fast the form of sound words (II Tim. 1:13). (3) Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (II Tim. 2:3). (4) Study to show yourself approved to God (II Tim. 2:15). (5) Continue in the things which you have learned (II Tim. 3:14). (6) Preach the word (II Tim. 4:2). (7) Watch in all things (II Tim. 4:5). (8) Endure afflictions (II Tim. 4:5). (9) Do the work of an evangelist (II Tim. 4:5). (10) Make full proof of your ministry (II Tim. 4:5).

 

There are three parts to Paul's appeal to Timothy in II Timothy 1:8. He should not be ashamed of the Master he served, the prisoner whom he loved--Paul, or the message he proclaimed. Paul's appeal was based on the pattern of the Lord Jesus Christ: "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:26,27). (See Matt. 16:27,28; Mark 8:38.)

 

The word "therefore" of II Timothy 1:8 takes us back to the opening verses of this second letter. This appeal to not be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord is based on Timothy's unfeigned faith (II Tim. 1:5), the absence of a spirit of cowardice in him (II Tim. 1:7), and his God-given spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (II Tim. 1:7).

 

The Spirit is the Spirit of power, and God-given power imparts courage. Love gives balance to God-given power. The sound mind gives self-control. The Christian has power, but love which has been shed abroad in his heart balances that power. His God-given sound mind enables him to exercise self-control. Paul's appeals were based on Timothy's God-given gift, which the evangelist must stir up.

 

Timothy's faith was unfeigned (anupokritou, ablative of source of anupokritos, which means sincere, genuine, or without hypocrisy). Unfeigned faith is also mentioned in I Timothy 1:5--"Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." Unfeigned faith is God's gift; therefore, it is supernatural (Phil. 1:29; Eph. 2:8; Heb. 12:2). Faith is indwelling because it has been correctly placed by the sovereign God: "...I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (II Tim. 1:12). This unfeigned faith which was in Timothy was also in his mother and grandmother. There was faith in youth in Timothy, faith in middle age in Eunice, and faith in old age in Lois. This genuine faith had not been passed from Timothy's grandmother to his mother and then to Timothy. Contrary to Arminian teaching, faith is God's gift, and it cannot be passed from one to another. God gives it to each elected individual. Assemblies today are filled with individuals who talk about faith, but the only kind of faith they have is temporary or historical. It is the human kind that can be passed from one to another. But the faith that stands the test is God-given.

 

Paul charged Timothy to not be ashamed (II Tim. 1:8). Although Paul suffered for the cause of truth, he was unashamed of his God-given faith and the gospel of Christ (II Tim. 1:12; Rom. 1:16). Paul used the unashamedness of Onesiphorus as an example to encourage Timothy (II Tim. 1:16). Jesus Christ will be ashamed to confess the person before the Father who is ashamed to confess Him before men.

 

Timothy should not be ashamed of the testimony of his Lord. A testimony is a matter of solemn declaration. The New Testament testimony as a whole and not merely a portion of it is the Christian's message. It includes everything from God's eternal purpose to the consummation of all things. Those who study Scripture and consider only an isolated passage have already made up their minds and will receive nothing of spiritual consequence. They are interested only in substantiating their own opinion which originated with themselves. Ashamedness of any aspect of the testimony of the Lord leads to being ashamed of it all. Jesus Christ cannot be embraced piecemeal fashion. He is either totally embraced or not at all. The same is true concerning the testimony of the Lord. The grace of God enables the Christian to pursue a complete knowledge. Unashamedness of Jesus Christ signifies that Jesus Christ is the Master and Ruler of one's life.

 

Timothy should not be ashamed of Paul, the Lord's prisoner. Paul suffered affliction from men who accused him of guilt, but he was not an evildoer. He was in bonds, but the word of God was not bound (II Tim. 2:9). The apostle was in prison when he wrote to Timothy, and Paul appealed to Timothy to join with him in his suffering. A minister is correct to ask the sheep to join with him in the afflictions of the gospel. To join God-appointed teachers in the afflictions of the gospel, Christians must know the testimony of the Lord and earnestly contend for it. Suffering for righteousness' sake is the common lot of all saints (John 15:18; I Pet. 3:14). Paul appealed to Timothy to join him in the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God. This is the power that was displayed in Timothy's gift of evangelism and in his God-given courage.

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3

THE ONE WHO HAS SAVED US

The one who has saved [sosantos, aorist active participle of sodzo, which means has saved] us, and who has called [kalesantos, aorist active participle of kaleo, which means has called] us with a holy calling [klesei, instrumental of klesis, which means call, calling, or station in life], not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His own purpose [prothesin, accusative feminine singular of the noun prothesis, meaning God planned or prepared before time] and grace [charin, accusative feminine singular of the noun charis, which means grace, free favor, or gift] having been given [dotheisan, aorist passive participle accusative feminine singular of didomi, which means to give, grant or bestow] to us in Christ Jesus before [pro, which means before or prior to] the times of ages.--II Timothy 1:9 (translation)

 

God is "the one who has saved us." The Greek words tou sosantos hemas may be translated "of the one who has saved us," or "of the one having saved us." These words refer back to the last part of verse 8. We are to become sharers in the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God. "God" is the last word of verse 8, and that verse is the introduction to this great doctrinal treatise from II Timothy 1:8-10.

 

Salvation is eternal in its origin because it began with God: "...Salvation is of the LORD" (Jonah 2:9). With respect to God, salvation has neither beginning nor ending. With respect to its recipient, salvation has a beginning; but it does not have an ending. Salvation includes not only God's purpose and Christ's provision but also the application of that salvation in regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Regeneration enables the person to be prepared to hear the effectual call. "Who has saved us" takes us back to the eternal counsel of God. The individual who thinks he is saved only when he believes has a deluded understanding of salvation. The Bible teaches eternal life. Man's proneness to think about mortality causes him to view life from the viewpoint of quantity rather than quality. But eternal life goes backward as far as it goes forward. The elect experience it in time.

 

The Greek verb translated "has saved" (sosantos, aorist active participle of sodzo, which means has saved or having saved) refers to election by the Father, redemption by Jesus Christ, and the application of that redemption by the Holy Spirit without the individual's knowledge of it. God the Father is the source of the gift of life (Eph. 2:4-7). Connecting "But God" of Ephesians 2:4 with "hath quickened us" of Ephesians 2:5 will prove that God makes men alive. The Father quickens: "...the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them" (John 5:21). The Son quickens: "...even so the Son quickeneth whom he will" (John 5:21). The Holy Spirit quickens: "...every one that is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8).

 

The Greek word translated "saved" (sodzo) is used variantly in Scripture. It means unharmed (Matt. 8:25; 10:22), preserve from being lost (Matt. 16:25), cure or heal (Mark 5:23,28), deliver from (Matt. 1:21; Acts 2:40), bring within the pale of Christian privileges (Titus 3:5; I Pet. 3:21), be in the way of salvation (I Cor. 15:2; II Cor. 2:15), saving oneself from this perverse generation (Acts 2:40), saving oneself and others from false doctrine (I Tim. 4:16), saving others from the error of their way (James 5:20), saving the sick by the prayer of faith (James 5:15), a woman being saved in childbearing (I Tim. 2:15), being saved by fire (I Cor. 3:15), the wife saving her husband (I Cor. 7:16), and the spirit being saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (I Cor. 5:5).

 

The word "saved" in our text embraces everything from God's eternal purpose to the Son's redemptive work two thousand years ago. It also includes the application of God's purpose and provision to the heart to equip the saved one, enabling him to respond to the effectual call when the Divine summons is given. Hence, salvation is used in the sense of being quickened before one is effectually called. This salvation of II Timothy 1:9 precedes calling. The average religionist thinks that no person can be saved until the gospel is proclaimed by a preacher and that God calls sinners by means of the gospel. The person is deceived who knows no more about salvation than believing that he exercises faith in Christ and is saved.

 

The grace of the Father purposed salvation (II Tim. 1:9). The grace of the Son purchased salvation (II Cor. 8:9). The grace of the Holy Spirit applies salvation (John 3:8). Hence, salvation owes everything to the sovereign God. In the silent mystery of eternity, God the Father planned it. God the Son agreed with the Father to purchase salvation. The Holy Spirit agreed to apply that planned and purchased salvation. The salvation purposed by the Father is seen running through the ages like a stream emptying itself into the hearts of those for whom Christ died as the Holy Spirit makes application of it. The time of application is God's and not man's (Ezek. 16:8).

 

God preserves the elect until salvation is applied by the Holy Spirit: "...them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called" (Jude 1). The word sanctified (egapemenois, perfect passive participle of agapao) in this reference means "having been loved." There has never been a time when the Father did not love those whom He chose in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world: "...Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee" (Jer. 31:3). "...Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end" (John 13:1). This takes us back to the eternal choice of God which is associated with the eternal purpose of God.

 

Those everlastingly loved by the Father are preserved for Jesus Christ. Grace was given them in Christ before the world began (II Tim. 1:9), and they are preserved for Him (Jude 1). Although eternal security is a Biblical doctrine, Jude was not speaking of that truth. The preservation is that of those the Father loved with an everlasting love in Christ, even before the provision by Jesus Christ for the elect is applied by the Holy Spirit in time. The calling of Jude 1 refers to the effectual call. The simplicity of this Biblical doctrine is that all the Father elected to eternal life will be kept for Christ until the application of that salvation which God ordained. All the Father has given the Son in the covenant of redemption before the foundation of the world shall come to Him (John 6:37). They shall come because they are kept for Jesus Christ until they are called. The grace of the Holy Spirit brings and applies salvation to the elect of God. His grace not only bestows salvation to the elect but reveals that salvation to them by making a disposition in the heart by regeneration to hear the effectual call when it is extended.

The Author and Source of salvation is God. The means is the blood of Christ. The application is by the Holy Spirit. The Son quickens whom He will. The Spirit quickens for the Son. The Son is the instrumentality of the Godhead in creation. The Holy Spirit is the instrumentality of the Godhead in the application of the principle of life.

 

The beginning of the new life is traced in Ephesians 2:5 to an act of the Divine power exercised on a helpless sinner dead in trespasses and sin, dead to the things of God but alive to the things of sin. The sinner is physically alive but spiritually dead. "But God" who is rich in His mercy and His love wherewith He has loved us has quickened us. By grace we are saved.

 

Peter's reply to the Lord's question, "Whom say ye that I am?" of Matthew 16:15 was "Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16). The Lord reminded Peter that "flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven " (Matt. 16:17). Peter, like every quickened sinner, was taught by the Teacher who is greater than man. An individual may listen to a preacher clearly preach God's word, but he needs the greater Teacher, the Holy Spirit, to quicken him.

 

Quickening is a communication of a new principle of life. Physical life is inexplicable. Physicians, with all their study of the human body, cannot explain it. However, physical life is experienced and manifested. Spiritual life cannot be defined. But the born-again person experiences and manifests that he has spiritual life. Regeneration is an act of God. This Divine quickening cannot be referred to in the sense that God believes and repents for an individual. It is true that God gives faith, and the person to whom faith is given exercises faith. It is also true that God grants repentance, and the repentant person exercises repentance. The new birth is not an act by which, either by argument or persuasion, the sinner can be induced to receive faith or repentance by his natural faith. Regeneration is an act of which God is the Agent. The soul of the sinner is regenerated; hence, the sinner is passive. The change is wrought in him.

 

(1) Salvation is outside the recipient in its purpose. It was given in Christ before the world began. (2) Salvation is outside the recipient in its provision. The recipient had no part in its provision, which was in the death of Jesus Christ when He became surety for the elect (I Pet. 3:18). (3) Salvation is outside the recipient in its application. The sovereign Holy Spirit applies it.

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4

 

THE EFFECTUAL CALL OF LIFE TO LIGHT

The one who has saved [sosantos, aorist active participle of sodzo, which means has saved] us, and who has called [kalesantos, aorist active participle of kaleo, which means has called] us with a holy calling [klesei, instrumental of klesis, which means call, calling, or station in life], not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His own purpose [prothesin, accusative feminine singular of the noun prothesis, meaning God planned or prepared before time] and grace [charin, accusative feminine singular of the noun charis, which means grace, free favor, or gift] having been given [dotheisan, aorist passive participle accusative feminine singular of didomi, which means to give, grant or bestow] to us in Christ Jesus before [pro, which means before or prior to] the times of ages.--II Timothy 1:9 (translation)

 

God effectually calls those He has saved: "The One who has saved us, and who has called us...." Observe the order and completeness in God's having saved and having called. Both regeneration and conversion are mentioned. Election, which is first in the Divine order, is followed by redemption, regeneration, and the effectual call of God. These, like Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, naturally fall in that order.

 

Regeneration precedes calling. The principle of life which is given in regeneration is brought to light in calling. Since the gospel effectively reaches only the regenerated, one must conclude that the saving which is effected by the call is not the same saving that precedes the call of II Timothy 1:9. Although a period of time may lapse between one's regeneration and his calling, Scripture assures us that He who has begun a good work in us is capable of bringing it to completion (Rom. 8:29,30; Phil. 1:6). As there is time between implanting the seed in the womb and bringing forth the child in birth, so it is in the spiritual realm--with the important difference that no one knows when regeneration takes place. The sinner, as in physical birth, is involved in the new birth, but he does not participate in it. Birth is the manifestation of a life already existent. No faith exists apart from regeneration because the principle of faith is given in regeneration.

 

The nature of regeneration can best be understood by contrasting it with what took place in the fall of Adam in the garden of Eden. Before the fall, Adam enjoyed fellowship with God. The basis on which this fellowship existed was created uprightness (Eccl. 7:29). After Adam fell, he could no longer enjoy fellowship. As Adam was alienated from God, all his posterity was also alienated from God (Eph. 4:18). That which took place at the fall did not destroy man's tripartite being of spirit, soul, and body. But man fell mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically (Rom. 1:24-28). Every part of man was affected by the fall. Therefore, man cannot think properly about spiritual things (I Cor. 2:14). His emotions are affected. He abuses his body because his mind is out of gear. He is under the dominion and power of Satan (II Pet. 2:14).

 

Everyone the Father chose in Christ before the foundation of the world was a nonentity until he was actually born of the flesh. At the time of his natural birth, every person comes into the world as an enemy of God, because each person is an offspring of Adam (Rom. 5:12). How can God love a person while he is His enemy? This question may be answered by another. How can God the Father love His only beloved Son and at the same time make Him a curse for the elect? Did the Father ever cease loving His Son? During the time Jesus Christ was made a curse, He was bearing the sins of the elect. The Father turned His back on Him while He was being made a sin offering, but He never ceased loving Him. God can love the unregenerated elected individual given to Christ because He sees him in Jesus Christ. There is no love outside of Jesus Christ.

 

Nature is known by its manifestation, but the nature itself is intangible and invisible. Since it is intangible, it is a principle of operation. That is all it is. The evil principle of operation entered Adam in the garden when he disobeyed God. It corrupted every part of Adam--his mind, emotions, and entire physical makeup. Therefore, man is totally corrupted--mind, soul, and body. That which happened in the fall is reversed in regeneration. The alienated sinner is born of the Spirit of God (John 3:6). He then possesses a spiritual principle of operation. The Father qualifies the elect to share the inheritance of the saints in light (Col. 1:12). This is regeneration in which the elect had no part. A person, not a nature, is regenerated. The same person who was alienated from God is now reconciled to God. Activity against God has been changed to activity for God.

 

There are objective and subjective views of reconciliation. The objective view is what took place when Christ died. The subjective view of that reconciliation occurs when the work of Jesus Christ is applied to the heart of the individual in regeneration. The subjective principle of life infused in regeneration enables the recipient to respond to the effectual call of God.

 

An effectual call gives response, and such a call can never gain response unless the person has been regenerated: "...he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice" (John 10:3,4). There will never be any response to the proclamation of the gospel until an individual has been regenerated. The recipient of grace will respond to the call, and that makes it effectual. The Holy Spirit alone gives life and prepares a person, giving him the ability to respond to the call of the gospel. A work of grace in one's heart makes him capable of hearing and recognizing the voice of truth. His mind is opened by the grace of God. He is no longer in the darkness of sin.

 

Regeneration is not effected by the use of means. The dust from which Adam's body was formed was not a means by which God originated his physical life. The dust made no contribution to Adam's physical life. The light of the day was not a means of giving sight to blind Bartimaeus. The clay the Lord placed on the blind man's eyes of John 9:6-7 was not a means to the man's receiving sight. Food is a means of physical growth, but it supposes physical life. Spiritual food is a means by which a regenerated person grows, but spiritual food supposes spiritual life. The new life is not implanted because man perceives the truth, but man perceives the truth because the new life has been implanted. Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit. The effectual call is by the use of the gospel. The gospel reaches only the effectually called in power and assurance.

 

The following are differing views of regeneration, calling, and the function of the gospel which are taught:

 

1. Some consider the effectual call to be equivalent with regeneration.

 

2. Others teach that the word of the gospel is the efficient cause of regeneration.

 

3. There are those who teach that faith effects regeneration.

 

4. There is the view that the sinner must be brought into contact with the truth in order for God to complete the work of regeneration.

 

5. Some teach that there are two aspects of regeneration: In the first, the soul is passive; it is acted on. In the second, God secures the initial exercise of the new birth, and the soul is active in this. Hence, the word of God and those who proclaim it are the instrumental cause.

 

6. There is another view which teaches that in the application of redemption, calling precedes regeneration. The order in redemption's application is stated as calling, regeneration, faith and repentance, justification, perseverance, and glorification.

7. The Biblical view distinguishes regeneration from the effectual call. These differing views, with the exception of the last, are all refuted in the Biblical distinction between regeneration and the effectual call.

 

An understanding of the following truths will prevent the Christian from confusing the effectual call with regeneration:

 

1. Regeneration takes place independently of the understanding and will of an individual. Calling is effective in both the understanding and will.

 

2. Regeneration is the begetting of the new life. Calling is the bringing forth of that life.

 

3. Regeneration is wrought without man's cooperation. Calling includes cooperation.

 

4. The sinner is passive in regeneration. He is active in calling, because he has the principle of life within.

 

5. The sinner is dead in sins when the Spirit regenerates him. The call is heard by the principle of life that is given in regeneration.

 

6. The first work of grace in the elect sinner is regeneration. The second is the effectual call.

 

7. The seed, or principle of life, is planted in regeneration. The principle of life is brought to light in calling.

 

8. The dead in sin are quickened in regeneration. The new life is present, but it may lie dormant for a few minutes or a few days. No one knows how long. It is like the seed in the ground during the winter. The life principle is there, but it is dormant. The slumbering life awakens in calling. The call addresses itself not to the deaf but to the hearing, not to the dead but to the living.

 

9. Regeneration does something for the whole man. The mind is illuminated (Eph. 1:18). A new disposition is given to the affections, and the will is renewed. The whole man is brought forth into action in calling. The illuminated mind sees the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 4:6). A new disposition hungers and thirsts for righteousness (Matt. 5:6). The new will comes to Jesus Christ (John 6:37).

 

10. The subject is not conscious of what is taking place in regeneration. The consciousness of man is addressed in calling. Regeneration works from within. Calling works from without. Regeneration is a Divine quickening that makes the soul a fit subject for the effectual call. One cannot respond to spiritual things without spiritual light.

 

11. There is a great difference in the manner of the Spirit's working in regeneration and His working in calling. The Holy Spirit works on sinners who are dead in trespasses and sins. They do not work with Him. There is no synergism in regeneration. The Holy Spirit works in the regenerated, assisting them in their calling; therefore, there is synergism in calling.

 

The calling of I Corinthians 1:9 is the effectual call that follows positional sanctification--regeneration--of I Corinthians 1:2. Fellowship with Christ cannot precede the gift of life. The only person who can be called into fellowship with Christ by the effectual call is that one who has already been regenerated by the grace of God. Fellowship is experiential, whereas regeneration is nonexperientially bestowed. The precedence of the experimental over the nonexperimental would place faith in the reverse order. The effectual call is associated with conversion rather than regeneration. God gives the inner qualifications to hear by regeneration, and He gives the outer preparedness to hear by the effectual call.

 

Regeneration and the effectual call are distinct. All that is necessary to equip a person to make him capable of responding to the effectual call of God is included in the word "saved" of II Timothy 1:9. In Titus 3:5, the same Greek word for saved (sodzo) is used: "...according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration...." The washing of regeneration is a once-for-all cleansing. The apostle Paul told the Christians at Corinth that they had been once-for-all cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ and that redemption had been applied by the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:11). The "renewing of the Holy Spirit" is a renewal, a complete change for the better. It had its beginning in regeneration, as we go back one step in the Divine order of Titus 3:5. But this renewal will continue until we are perfected in glory. We must not forget that the verses preceding verse 5 speak of good works, and verse 8 speaks of maintaining good works. There will be fruit in the life of the person who has been regenerated. He will be zealous of good works. The change that begins in regeneration continues changing until the final change, when the regenerated person will be perfected in the presence of Jesus Christ.

 

The view that God's effectual call carries with it the operative grace whereby a person is enabled to answer the call and embrace Jesus Christ as He is freely offered in the gospel makes calling and regeneration equivalent terms. If calling preceded or was equivalent with regeneration, man would participate in the new birth. But the sinner is passive in regeneration and active in conversion. There is nothing left for regeneration to accomplish if calling gives the ability to respond. What other than faith can respond to the effectual call? Faith is the fruit of regeneration. It is the act of loving trust and self-commitment, of which no one is capable until he has been renewed by the Holy Spirit.

 

Regeneration is the same whether it is taught in the Old or the New Testament. Israel by nature was like any other nation, but God chose them in His grace to be His peculiar people. The frequent repetition of "I will" of Ezekiel 36:21-28 proves that God Himself did the choosing and regenerating.

 

The new heart is a new principle of life infused by God. It is a new will filled with new purposes, indicating a change in the whole character of man. His intelligence, affections, and will are changed by the grace of God. The new heart of Ezekiel 36:26 is the same as the new man of Ephesians 4:24 and Colossians 3:10. The person himself, not a mere nature, is born again. A new spirit refers to the inner principle which directs the heart's activity. It is a new disposition given by the grace of God when He regenerates. The Holy Spirit within enables the person's new disposition to please God and manifest itself outwardly.

 

There is a new way of life (Ezek. 36:27). The Lord said, "And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them" (Jer. 32:39). The one way is the way of Christ (John 14:6). The one heart is the one desire to follow Jesus Christ. When the Lord puts His Spirit within, He causes the individual to walk in His truth, keep His judgments, and do them (Ezek. 36:27). Principle must always precede practice, and practice will follow principle.

 

God's effectual call is without repentance (Rom. 11:29). No one can be effectually called twice any more than he can be regenerated twice. He may be converted many times, but he can be regenerated and effectually called only once. The regenerated person will be effectually called. God has no obligation to elect anyone to salvation or to regenerate him. But He has promised to regenerate and effectually call everyone He elected. God does not effectually call all men. The effectual call is taught in Acts 2:39--"For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." A person is elected, redeemed, regenerated, and effectually called by grace.

 

There are two respects in which men may be "afar off" from God: (1) The heathen who have never been subjected to the gospel of Christ are "afar off" in respect to inward grace and the outward means of salvation. (2) Those who have heard the gospel of Christ but failed to respond, because there was no inward grace in them to respond to the effectual call, are "afar off." The Pharisees, for example, were near the message that Christ preached, but they were "afar off" because they had no inward grace.

 

The Holy Spirit is the instrument in the Godhead who regenerates the lost in the same sense that Christ was the instrument in the Godhead to create all things. The Holy Spirit applies to the elect the redemption purchased by Jesus Christ by giving them the ability to believe, thereby uniting them in fellowship with Christ in their effectual calling.

 

Jesus Christ shed His precious blood as payment for all for whom He died. The gospel of Christ is the gospel of certainty, not mere possibility: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rom. 1:16). A person's acceptance of the gospel or his mental attitude toward it does not make Jesus Christ that person's Savior. Neither truth nor man can operate directly on the essence of man's soul. Jesus Christ saves all He seeks, and He seeks those for whom He died.

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EFFECTUALLY CALLED BY JESUS CHRIST

The one who has saved [sosantos, aorist active participle of sodzo, which means has saved] us, and who has called [kalesantos, aorist active participle of kaleo, which means has called] us with a holy calling [klesei, instrumental of klesis, which means call, calling, or station in life], not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His own purpose [prothesin, accusative feminine singular of the noun prothesis, meaning God planned or prepared before time] and grace [charin, accusative feminine singular of the noun charis, which means grace, free favor, or gift] having been given [dotheisan, aorist passive participle accusative feminine singular of didomi, which means to give, grant or bestow] to us in Christ Jesus before [pro, which means before or prior to] the times of ages.--II Timothy 1:9 (translation)

 

Christians are privileged to be effectually called by Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:6). He was made a surety of a better covenant: "By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament" (Heb. 7:22). The Greek word for surety (egguos) means pledge, surety, or sponsor. It refers to Him by whom we get full assurance of the more excellent covenant made by God. An inferior covenant, the Mosaic covenant, is contrasted with the new covenant. The new covenant is the better because it is based on a better sacrifice and better promises. The inferior covenant, which was good in itself, was the one in force until the coming of Jesus Christ. It served its purpose of revealing the exceeding sinfulness of sin and pointing to Jesus Christ. The old covenant also had a surety and a mediator, but they were not found in the same person. Moses was the mediator, and Aaron was the surety. However, both offices are in Jesus Christ in the new covenant. As surety, Jesus Christ became the guarantor of His people. He undertook the debt for His people who lacked the ability to discharge their own responsibilities. He became their pledge. The Lord Jesus could not leave this world until He had offered Himself for all the elect to whom He became surety.

 

The legal side of suretyship is stronger when the surety becomes an instant substitute for the original debtor by having the debt charged to the surety and the debtor released. Onesimus was legally released before the debt was actually paid (Philem. 10-19). Only in this way could the Old Testament saints be forgiven before the death of the Testator (Heb. 9:15-17). A testament is in force after a person is dead. Therefore, Christ must die. Jesus Christ assumed the debt against the elect.

 

The following facts should be considered in Christ's suretyship: (1) The Lord Jesus and His people are not accessories for the payment of the debts of the people. (2) His suretyship was not conditioned on the point that His people should pay but in their failure He would pay. (3) The surety must be able to fulfill all the obligations of the covenant. (4) The covenant must be kept and the debt paid according to the time appointed. (5) God demands that payment be brought to His own habitation. That is the reason Christ entered into the most holy place with His poured-out life for the elect (Heb. 9:24-26). (6) If the surety is bound, the debtor is free. (7) Christ gives assurance that all for whom He is surety are acquitted; therefore, there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus. The greatness of Christ's Person, the sufficiency of His sacrifice, the authority behind His resurrection, the superiority of His priesthood, and His ascension to the throne of the Father are a complete pledge of the validity of the better covenant.

 

A condition for true and proper suretyship is that the surety must be of the same nature as the people for whom He becomes surety. An inferior being cannot be a surety. Beings of a superior nature are as effectually debarred from joining themselves to man, in identifying themselves with him in assuming his obligations to the law, as those of inferior nature. God absolutely considered could never be a surety. Suretyship necessitated the hypostatic union. Jesus Christ in the capacity of the God-Man became surety.

 

Another condition of true and proper suretyship is that a surety must be free from the obligation of the law. The Lord Jesus became the God-Man, but He was a Divine Person, the eternal Son. Therefore, there was no law above Himself. Christ, the Divine Person, was not under the law; and possessing a perfect human nature, He was qualified to be surety. A surety is one who is free, voluntary, and sovereign in assuming the obligations of another. Law does not require anyone to assume the legal obligations of another. In this respect, man's freedom is recognized and respected. Jesus Christ voluntarily assumed the obligations of the elect. He voluntarily laid down His life for them. He had the power to lay it down, and He had the power to take it again (John 10:17,18). The surety must voluntarily come under the law that rested on the elect. Jesus Christ came into the world. He was born under the law, lived under it, and died under it. While free from the law, the surety must be willing to be subjected to the law.

 

All suretyship is voluntary. It is a relation constituted by covenant engagement by which parties become legally one and can be dealt with as such in law. Each individual of a unit is bound in justice to suffer for the unit, if necessary. Jesus Christ, the one Person, became surety for all the elect. He met the obligations we were unable to fulfill. All suretyship that is constituted by covenant engagement makes the surety one with those for whom he acts: "...if one died for all, then were all dead" (II Cor. 5:14). Jesus Christ by covenant relationship died for the elect. There was no injustice when Jesus Christ became surety for everyone the Father gave Him. We could not meet the obligation, but Jesus Christ met it on our behalf.

 

Suffering is not the suffering of the part but of the whole. The individuals of a legal unit can say, "We paid; the debt is paid. One of our number paid; we did not." In any other sense than in law all the credit of making the payment is assuredly to be given to the one who paid for all. Nevertheless, in law, it is true that all paid. All that a surety does must be in exact obedience to the requirement of the law. The law must be fully paid, and Jesus Christ paid it. A surety must accomplish the reinstatement of those for whom he is the substitute. Perfect suretyship not only reinstates but also delivers from law and places under grace those in whose behalf satisfaction has been rendered. Marvelous grace!

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THE EFFECTUAL CALL ILLUSTRATED

The one who has saved [sosantos, aorist active participle of sodzo, which means has saved] us, and who has called [kalesantos, aorist active participle of kaleo, which means has called] us with a holy calling [klesei, instrumental of klesis, which means call, calling, or station in life], not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His own purpose [prothesin, accusative feminine singular of the noun prothesis, meaning God planned or prepared before time] and grace [charin, accusative feminine singular of the noun charis, which means grace, free favor, or gift] having been given [dotheisan, aorist passive participle accusative feminine singular of didomi, which means to give, grant or bestow] to us in Christ Jesus before [pro, which means before or prior to] the times of ages.--II Timothy 1:9 (translation)

 

The necessity for the new birth is emphasized in the Lord's discourse with Nicodemus (John 3), but the effectual call is emphasized in His discourse with the woman of Samaria (John 4). Many equate the effectual call with regeneration; but in the light of the whole revelation of God's mind, that equation is erroneous. Regeneration and the effectual call are necessary because Jesus Christ entered Judaism for the express purpose of calling His sheep from among the Jews out of Judaism: "...the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out" (John 10:3). The woman of Samaria heard the voice of the Shepherd in His message. She could never have heard the message without having been quickened. Being in possession of subjective life, she received objective life.

 

The effectual call of the woman of Samaria may be better understood by first considering John 3:29--"He that hath [echon, present active participle of echo, which means the one having] the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth [estekos, perfect active participle of histemi, which means having stood] and heareth [akouon, present active participle of akouo, which means the one hearing] him, rejoiceth [chairei, present active indicative of chairo, which means the one rejoicing] greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled." The "one having the bride" is Christ. Possession must first be viewed from the standpoint of the eternal covenant of God. The "one having the bride" refers to His actual possession. Election is used two ways in the Scriptures--one in eternity and the other in time. The decree of God is recorded in Ephesians 1:4, and His actual selecting out from the world is recorded in John 6:37. In the light of John 3:29, three things should be considered: (1) "Standeth" speaks of a past action with the continual result of expecting and waiting. (2) "Heareth" denotes the present ability to distinguish the voice of the true Shepherd from that of false shepherds. (3) "Rejoiceth" refers to present rejoicing because of the life-giving voice. In the effectual call, the woman of Samaria heard the voice of the good Shepherd and rejoiced.

 

After departing from Judea, Jesus Christ "must needs go [dierchesthai, present middle infinitive of dierchomai, which means to go or pass through] through Samaria" (John 4:4) on His way to Galilee. It was necessary for Christ to go through Samaria, because He always did the will of His Father, and one of His elect was there who must hear the effectual call. He must go through Samaria in the same sense of the necessity of His being lifted up.

 

On His way from Judea to Galilee, the Lord Jesus "cometh" [erchetai, present middle indicative of erchomai, which means is coming] to Sychar (Shechem). The mention of the city of Sychar should have an appeal to the Christian for the following reasons: (1) God appeared to Abram at Sychar (Gen. 12:6). (2) Jacob dwelt there after returning from Padan-Aram (Gen. 33:18). (3) Joseph's brothers fed their flocks there (Gen. 37:12). (4) Joseph was buried there (Josh. 24:32). (5) After Solomon's death, Rehoboam met the tribes of Israel there (I Kings 12:1). (6) Jeroboam first dwelt there when he was made King of Israel (I Kings 12:25). Consequently, one thought of Sychar should remind the Christian of Israel's history.

 

Jacob's well (pege, which means a spring, a fountain, or a source) was in Sychar (John 4:6). Because of His weariness, Jesus Christ sat on the well. He was there because a woman whom God had chosen and given to Him would meet Him there. Although His weariness manifested His humanity, He was more than man. Some seek to make Jesus Christ two persons--God and man--but that is heretical. He was and is the God-Man, one Person with two natures. His weariness proves His human nature was subject to nonsinful physical infirmities. He was tried in all points as we are, yet apart from sin.

 

The effectual call and the steps taken in the effectual call of the woman of Samaria are portrayed in John 4. The Lord Jesus first attracted her heart (vv. 4-9). In God's providence, He must go through Samaria because one of the sheep for whom He would die was there. When the woman came to draw water, the Lord asked her to give Him a drink. His asking for water touched her heart, because it was unheard of that a Jew would ask a Gentile for a drink. Christ was at the well first, and He was the first to speak. The woman did not ask anything. No Arminian could read this, believe what it says, and remain an Arminian. God is always first. He first approached Adam. Christ took the initiative with the woman of Samaria. Who calls whom in the effectual call? The sinner is not the first to call. The mystery of Divine providence is seen in God's placing Christ's sheep in the right place at the right time for the call of the glorious gospel of the Son of God. The salvation of the woman was purposed in eternity, but its execution was brought about in time by the providence of God.

 

In John 4:9, the Samaritan woman's question, "How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans," embodied all that could excite the aversion of a Jew. Christ, however, had no national animosity. Although the Samaritans were half-breeds, it made no difference to Him because some had been given to Him by the Father out of all nations, kindreds, and tongues. His sheep are scattered throughout the world (John 11:52). The Pharisees avoided the Samaritan country, but Christ went right through it. The separation of the Pharisees led them too far.

 

The Lord Jesus replied to the woman's question by arresting her mind (John 4:10-15). "Jesus answered and said unto her, If [ei, second class condition particle, which means determined as unfulfilled] thou knewest [edeis, pluperfect active indicative of oida, which is the perfect meaning in reference to past time, meaning had known] the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked [etesas, aorist active indicative of aiteo] of him, and he would have given thee living [dzon, present active participle of dzao, which means perennial] water" (John 4:10). If she had known who He was, she would have asked Him to give her not literal but perennial water.

 

The woman manifested that her mind was arrested when she called Him "Sir," evidencing respect in her questioning of Christ concerning the water of which He spoke. The well (phrear) to which she referred was a collection of water, like a cistern, indicating that there is no natural thirst for God. Since a thirst for God is spiritual, it must come from the Spirit of God in regeneration. Hence, that thirst is the fruit of regeneration. There are two sources of water--that which is gathered in a cistern (phrear) (John 4:11,12) and that which flows from a spring or a fountain (pege) (John 4:6,14).

 

Christ continued appealing to her mind when He said, "Whosoever drinketh [pinon, present active participle of pino, which means the one drinking] of this water shall thirst again" (John 4:13). He told her that whoever keeps on drinking of this accumulation of water will thirst again. But the person who "drinketh [pie, aorist active subjunctive of pino, which means may drink] of the water that I shall give [doso, future active indicative of didomi] him shall never thirst [dipsesei, future active indicative of dipsao, used in connection with a double negative, which means positively not thirst, no never]..." (John 4:14). Once a person has been converted he will never thirst for that initial conversion experience. However, the one who has not been converted can continually drink water from a cistern and perpetually thirst. The water Christ shall give (future active indicative) shall become in a person a "well" or "fountain" (pege) of water springing up into everlasting life. The Greek word for "springing" (allomenou) is a present middle participle of allomai. The same root verb is found in Acts 3:8 describing the leaping of the lame man who had been healed.

 

Jesus Christ is the Giver of the water. The residence of the water is the elect of God. The activity of this water of life is that it is a springing fountain. The purpose of the living water is that the self-perpetuating principle of life not only satisfies and sustains the recipients in time but it also does these things with a view to the timelessness of eternity. The principle of life is not a stagnant pool, a cistern (phrear), but a self-perpetuating fountain (pege) that lives within us. You cannot destroy a self-perpetuating fountain placed there by God Himself.

 

The difference between grace and glory may be viewed in the following manner: (1) Grace is glory in the bud. (2) Glory is grace in the flower. We will have the latter throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. Thus, the regenerated sheep of God presently have something of eternity. That which we have of eternity in time gives us stability, hope, assurance, and all that is necessary to enable us to persevere because God preserves. The water of life is thirst removing, filth purging, life preserving, fire quenching (the lust of the flesh is referred to as burning in I Corinthians 7), fruit producing, and heaven ascending.

 

The Lord Jesus aroused the woman's conscience (John 4:16-24). When she requested the water of which He spoke, the Lord replied with three imperatives in John 4:16--(1) "Go," (2) "call thy husband," and (3) "come hither." People in whose hearts God is working do not mind having their consciences aroused. Christ reached her conscience when He told her she had spoken the truth in saying she had no husband. He called her attention to the fact that the one with whom she was living was not her husband. The average person does not want his conscience pricked. But as the woman's conscience was probed, she said, "Sir, I perceive [theoro, present active indicative of theoreo, which means to come to the knowledge of] that thou are a prophet" (John 4:19). The Lord had attracted her heart, arrested her mind, and was now probing her conscience; and she was coming to the knowledge that He was a Prophet. Her mind then went to the tradition of the Samaritans, and she referred to their places of worship. But Christ evaded the controversy and gave the truth. He told her she worshipped that which she did not "know" (oidate, perfect active indicative of oida, negated with the absolute negative ouk), but the Jews "know" (oidamen, perfect active indicative of oida, which means have known) what they worship because salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22). True worshippers worship the Lord in spirit and truth. Anyone not in truth cannot worship God. Such people assemble in vain.

 

The Lord assured the woman's soul (John 4:25,26). She stated that she knew the Messiah, which is called Christ, was coming, and that when He came He would tell all things. Christ assured her by identifying Himself: "I that speak unto thee am he" (John 4:26).

 

The results of the Lord's attracting her heart, arresting her mind, arousing her conscience, and assuring her soul are recorded in John 4:27-30. It was at this point that the disciples came and marveled that Christ talked with the Samaritan woman. The woman left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and witnessed to the men. Her witness was brief: "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" (John 4:29). Thus, responsibility was placed on those to whom she witnessed. The Lord had pointed out her one sin of adultery (John 4:16), and she confessed all. Confession of all is evidence of a true conversion experience.

 

Is there a parallel between Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman? Many think Christ brought both of them through the new light of revelation to regeneration. But the truth is that Christ through regeneration brought both of them to the light of revelation. Nicodemus did not evidence his regeneration during his discourse with Christ; but the woman of Samaria did. Her reply signified that she reacted positively to Christ's attracting her heart, arresting her intelligence, probing her conscience, and assuring her soul. Regeneration is an instantaneous act, but conversion which comes by means of the effectual call is a process. The Lord spoke to Nicodemus of the necessity for the new birth. However, He led the woman through a process in her conversion experience. The act of God which gives life to the spiritually dead is distinct from the truth of Divine revelation, as the faculty of seeing is distinct from the truth that is seen. The new birth is an immediate creative act of God that takes place instantaneously and with which no secondary cause can participate. Whereas, the effectual call of God is a process.

 

The Thessalonian saints were chosen before the foundation of the world, and then they were effectually called by the gospel (II Thess. 2:13,14). Their effectual call was subsequent to their having been elected and sanctified by the Spirit--regenerated. Hence, God's order is election, positional sanctification by the Spirit of God, and the effectual call by the gospel. The gospel effectively reaches only those who are effectually called (I Cor. 1:18-31). The effectually called are those the Holy Spirit has already quickened. No one can savingly answer the general call in the proclamation of the gospel until he is regenerated. The Holy Spirit gives life and prepares a person, giving him the ability to respond to the call of the gospel. Every regenerated person will follow Jesus Christ when he hears His voice through the word of God: "...the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out...the sheep follow him: for they know his voice" (John 10:3,4). This is the effectual call. A work of grace in one's heart makes him capable of hearing, recognizing, and responding to the voice of truth. The saving of I Corinthians 1:18-31 is effected by the gospel. Therefore, it cannot be the saving that precedes the calling of II Timothy 1:9 and Titus 3:5. The gospel is foolishness to everyone who is not effectually called; but to the effectually called, it is the power of God to salvation (Rom. 1:16).

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EFFECTUAL AND GENERAL CALLS CONTRASTED

The one who has saved [sosantos, aorist active participle of sodzo, which means has saved] us, and who has called [kalesantos, aorist active participle of kaleo, which means has called] us with a holy calling [klesei, instrumental of klesis, which means call, calling, or station in life], not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His own purpose [prothesin, accusative feminine singular of the noun prothesis, meaning God planned or prepared before time] and grace [charin, accusative feminine singular of the noun charis, which means grace, free favor, or gift] having been given [dotheisan, aorist passive participle accusative feminine singular of didomi, which means to give, grant or bestow] to us in Christ Jesus before [pro, which means before or prior to] the times of ages.--II Timothy 1:9 (translation)

 

God is the One who has saved us and effectually called us "with a holy calling." Christ's suretyship guarantees the twofold calling of those who are regenerated. (1) The effectual call is from within by the conviction of the Holy Spirit in regeneration. (2) The general call is from without by the message of the gospel. The work of the Holy Spirit in the call is twofold. (1) It is within by the illumination of the elect's understanding to recognize and respond to the message when it is proclaimed. (2) It is from without the elect by the word of God which the Holy Spirit inspired, committed to writing, preserves, and proclaims through Spirit-called ministers. The effectual call does not begin with the preacher, but it includes him. God gives the inner ability to hear in regeneration. He gives the outer ability to hear in the effectual call.

 

The effectual call, in contrast to the general call, goes forth in the power of the Spirit and much assurance (I Thess. 1:5; 2:13). It is always effectual, but the general call is not always effectual. One may or may not respond to the general call; however, one with the principle of life recognizes truth and always responds to the effectual call. A person may respond multiplied times to the general call without being effectually called. But the regenerated person responds only once to the effectual call, and that response is never repeated. The Lord said that "many be called, but few chosen" (Matt. 20:16). The calling of the many is the general call. The choosing of the few is the effectual call. Men are called out of darkness into the light of truth by the effectual call (I Pet. 2:9). We are called into the fellowship of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 1:9). This calling is high and heavenly, and it is without repentance (Rom. 11:29). Zacchaeus' salvation demonstrates that the effectual call is personal--Zacchaeus was called by name, urgent--"make haste," and humbling--"come down" (Luke 19:5).

 

The effectual call must be distinguished from what some designate as the general or universal call. The following statements are generally embraced by those who affirm the truths of grace: (1) The common call is universal in order to manifest God's general goodness, holiness, and the compassion of His nature. This is for the purpose of dissuading men from sin and self-destruction. (2) The universal call clears God when men ruin themselves. In the damnation of the unjust, the universally called will see how lovely God is and how desperately evil men are for refusing God's general call. (3) The universal call is extended for the purpose of reaching the elect, since the elect are scattered throughout the universe.

 

The Arminian (this is one who believes that salvation is by God plus himself) objects to the effectual call. He questions the sense of an impassioned plea to men so enslaved to sin that they cannot respond. Arminians do not believe any person is so enslaved to sin that he is insensitive to or cannot respond to the gospel. Thus, they place faith before life and response to spiritual things prior to any spiritual life to enable one to respond. They fight against not only man's depravity but also God's irresistible grace. Arminians also question God's sincerity in offering salvation to those He has appointed to wrath. Many manipulate the Scriptures so that their opinions sound reasonable to the natural mind. Their manipulation of the Scriptures is demonstrated in the following arguments: (1) God made all things for His pleasure (Rev. 4:11). All He does is according to His good pleasure (Eph. 1:9-11). Therefore, since God sends men to hell, He must get pleasure out of it. (2) Once a man is saved he can never be lost (John 10:28). He is kept by God (I Pet. 1:5). Therefore, he can live in sin and still go to heaven. (3) God's sovereignty chooses man to be saved (Rom. 9). Since His sovereignty is immutable, His purpose will be carried out regardless. Therefore, it does not matter whether the elect believe or not.

 

The conclusions drawn in the preceding arguments are incorrect because the facts are incomplete. The desire God has expressed to His creatures need not be His eternal purpose in order for Him to be sincere. Why does the Arminian fail to apply the same argument to his belief in God's foreknowledge or foreordination? A human father is not insincere when he warns his son of dangers which he knows his son will not heed. The problem does not rest with the father but with the son. Likewise, the problems presented in the Arminian arguments do not rest with God but with depraved humanity, and God is not the author of depravity. He made man upright. Man is the author of his own depravity.

Arminians say a coextensive provision is not an element in a sincere offer of the gospel. They believe one is only required to avail himself of the terms of the offer; then that which is proper is given by God. Contrary to the Arminian declaration, the preaching of the gospel is not an offer. Jesus Christ said, "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (John 6:37). The Holy Spirit gives the gift of Christ to the person who was given to the Son in the covenant of redemption. Those given by the Father will come, and none can come without the Father's drawing him (John 6:37,44,45).

 

The word "offer" means to present for acceptance or rejection. The offer of grace to sinners supposes self-power to accept. The assumption that we offer Christ to sinners supposes men have free wills. To preach that Christ died for all men without exception, salvation is finished, and all one has to do is to receive it is a strange method of preaching to dead sinners who cannot come, see, understand, etc. No matter how much you might sprinkle the gospel on a person, that person must be quickened by the Spirit of God before he can understand and receive the message. None of the apostles ever offered Christ to anyone. An offer is not a means. An offer is ineffectual. But God's call is effectual because the regenerated person has the principle of life and recognizes the voice of Christ when he hears the gospel proclaimed; then he embraces Jesus Christ and follows Him.

 

God's power is not sent by means of an offer. "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost" (I Thess. 1:5,6). God's power comes sovereignly. The reason the Thessalonians received the gospel was because it came in power and much assurance.

 

The sinner cannot lay hold of Christ savingly--objectively--in the gospel before the Spirit lays hold of him regeneratively--subjectively. Having the subjective life of the Holy Spirit, the principle of life within, we then embrace the objective life. We cannot lay hold of anything spiritual until we have been laid hold of by Jesus Christ. "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend [katalabo, aorist active subjunctive of katalambano, which means may lay hold of] that for which also I am apprehended [katelemphthen, aorist passive indicative of katalambano, which means was laid hold of] of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:12). Thus, the sinner cannot come to Christ in a saving way without the Holy Spirit first giving him faith in regeneration. With his God-given faith he believes on Christ. His embracing, laying hold of, Christ is the action of the faith that was given in regeneration. Faith itself is the gift of God: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). Such a principle of life can never be offered by man. It is sovereignly given. How can one live in the Spirit apart from the sovereign God when all his springs of joy are in God? (Ps. 87:7).

 

The gospel is to be preached by man indiscriminately but not in the sense of an offer. Finite men cannot know who the elect are until life is brought to light by the gospel: "But we are bound to give thanks alway 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" (II Thess. 2:13,14). Life is brought to light by the gospel (II Tim. 1:9-10).

 

Regeneration cannot be offered to man indiscriminately. A certain person cannot be pointed out by man and told that salvation is for him. The mighty power of God is necessary to regenerate man. "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places" (Eph. 1:19,20). An offer supposes creature ability which would indicate cooperation by the creature, and that is synergism. Creature concurrence is rank Arminianism. The true gospel is higher than any unregenerate man can reach. We are born from above.

 

Regeneration is a creation (II Cor. 5:17). But the call of the gospel by which life is brought to light does not work in a creative way. Calling "those things which be not as though they were" is creation (Rom. 4:17). This refers to God's authoritative command. By the Lord's word, the heavens were made (Ps. 33:6). "He spoke, and it was done..." (Ps. 33:9).

 

The natural man labors under depravity. He may not lack an organ by which truth can be heard mentally to make certain judgments or decisions concerning natural things, but he is invincibly determined against the truth of God because he will not come to the light lest his deeds be exposed (John 3:20). By nature he hates the light.

 

Witnesses for Jesus Christ have no authority to offer Jesus Christ, the new birth, or the gospel. But we are commissioned to invite persons who already have the grace of God. Offering and inviting are distinct. Something that may be accepted or rejected is proclaimed as an offer. However, a courteous request which is assumed to be agreeable to the person summoned is heralded in an invitation. Witnesses for Christ, through their proclamation of the gospel, bid regenerated people to come to Christ. Their encouragement to come is disagreeable to the unregenerated ones but pleasant to the regenerated. The regenerated people are invited to Jesus Christ, who is revealed in the gospel, for a conversion experience. Every child of God wants to please God, not exploit Him (I Thess. 2:4,5). God has chosen the preaching of the gospel to bring those to whom He has given life to the knowledge of their salvation. Preaching the gospel may cause excitement or reformation among those listening, but it cannot give life.

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EFFECTUALLY CALLED BY THE GOSPEL

The one who has saved [sosantos, aorist active participle of sodzo, which means has saved] us, and who has called [kalesantos, aorist active participle of kaleo, which means has called] us with a holy calling [klesei, instrumental of klesis, which means call, calling, or station in life], not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His own purpose [prothesin, accusative feminine singular of the noun prothesis, meaning God planned or prepared before time] and grace [charin, accusative feminine singular of the noun charis, which means grace, free favor, or gift] having been given [dotheisan, aorist passive participle accusative feminine singular of didomi, which means to give, grant or bestow] to us in Christ Jesus before [pro, which means before or prior to] the times of ages.--II Timothy 1:9 (translation)

 

The invitation is nothing more than a general call from a minister's viewpoint. The Holy Spirit makes it effectual in the hearts of those He has given the disposition for it. Man cannot constrain the unregenerated to regeneration. A preacher gives only the general call by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. He cannot compel people to come in the sense of Luke 14:23--"And the Lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." The Greek word anagkason, aorist active imperative of anagkadzo, means to constrain, compel, or urge an individual to come. A so-called conversion is short-lived with those constrained by men to make decisions when regeneration did not precede that conversion. Their salvation cannot be lost because they never had it to lose. The preaching of the cross is foolishness to the unregenerated person (I Cor. 1:18); whereas, it is the power of God to the regenerated (Rom. 1:16).

 

The spoken word manifests the incarnate Word through the written word. The genus of the gospel has been in its consecrated, Spirit-filled men. It did not advance its cause by political influence of wealthy patrons from nobilities of society. It began in a cradle, was disciplined in a carpenter shop, tested in the highways and in homes, glorified through crucifixion and resurrection, and set worldwide through the lips of common people who had been effectually called by the Spirit.

 

Preaching Christ is not offering Him. Offering grace to sinners supposes that they have the ability to respond, which is a denial of depravity. Those who offer salvation indiscriminately deny God's sovereignty in the application of redemption. God does not authorize anyone to offer Christ. The Son of God cannot be offered in regeneration. The Christian is to preach Christ, not offer Him. The purpose of preaching is not to offer but to proclaim the gospel: "...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).

 

None of the Greek words for "offer" hint at the free offer of the gospel. Various Greek words are translated "offer." The word most commonly used in the New Testament is the verb prosphero, which is translated present, bring, offer, offering, do, deal, etc., (Matt. 2:11; 4:24; Luke 23:36; John 16:2; Heb. 5:7; 8:3; 12:7). Another Greek word for "offer" is anaphero, which means to bring, cry upward, lead up, offer sacrifices, or sustain a burden (Heb. 7:27; I Pet. 2:24). The Greek word spendo is translated "offer" and means to pour out as a libation or drink offering, or ready to be offered (Phil. 2:17; II Tim. 4:6). The Greek verb parecho which is translated "offer" means to hold out, cause, bring about, offer, present, grant, or occasion (Luke 6:29; I Tim. 6:17). The Greek noun prosphora means an offering, a sacrifice, a gift, or a victim that is offered (Rom. 15:16; Heb. 10:14). Another Greek noun is eidolothuton, which means sacrifices to idols (Acts 15:29; I Cor. 8:4).

 

Scripture gives no authority to offer deliverance from sin. The Holy Spirit applies redemption to whom He will. Distinction must be made between restricting the preaching and the offering of Christ. Preaching Christ must not be restricted. Jesus Christ must be preached to every creature. Offering Christ is not man's prerogative. Salvation by looking to Christ is not the same as regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Regeneration makes salvation a reality. Paul was appointed to preach Jesus Christ. He was not authorized to offer Him. He was ordained a preacher (I Tim. 1:11,12; 2:7). A preacher is a herald, a public messenger, a proclaimer, and a publisher. Noah was a preacher of righteousness (II Pet. 2:5). Paul was appointed a teacher (II Tim. 1:11). The Greek word for teacher (didaskalos) means a teacher, a master, or an instructor. He was appointed by God to instruct people concerning Jesus Christ, His Person and Work. Instructing in the doctrine of Christ is not the same as offering Christ.

 

The means of expression must be clearly understood. More than the sound of words is required. The sense must be given. Indiscriminate proclamation by the preacher is necessary. He does not have the prerogative to discriminate. The Holy Spirit, not the message, discriminates. He makes the preaching effectual in the hearts of the regenerated (Rom. 1:14-16). Opposite effects of the gospel take place in those who are regenerated and the unregenerated ones. Those who are regenerated rejoice with joy unspeakable; whereas the unregenerated are filled with hatred (John 3:19,20; I Pet. 1:8).

 

Through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, not man's offer of the gospel, God's power is sent by means of His eternal purpose. The Spirit of regeneration is the living principle of a saving ability. Therefore, the principle of life which enables its recipients to believe on Jesus Christ cannot be offered by man. An offer of grace is not God's gift of grace. Giving and receiving are synonymous with God. Salvation by the gospel reaches only those who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God. The gospel must be proclaimed as being higher than the natural man can reach. It is a spiritual message beyond the natural man's comprehension.

 

Grace does not dwell separately from the Holy Spirit, because the Spirit of regeneration is the principle of life. Although Christ is never offered to the nonelect, the doctrine of Christ is proclaimed to them as a "savour of death unto death" (II Cor. 2:15,16). Offering Christ supposes the sinner is capable of cooperating with what God offers, and the sinner becomes a Christian by concurrence. The gospel is not offered for acceptance or rejection. Within the context of Paul's message in Acts 13:38-52, he did not offer Christ; and those who were not ordained to eternal life were filled with envy, contradicted, and blasphemed. God did not offer life and breath in Paul's message in Acts. 17. He gives life and breath to every creature, and He gives eternal life to whom He pleases.

 

No one can persuade an individual to accept Jesus Christ in the sense that Christ becomes his personal Savior. The nonelect may receive an offer. But the Holy Spirit works regeneration in the heart, and this is not something offered. A preacher or any other Christian can only tell that God gives salvation to whom He pleases. The Holy Spirit is sovereign. Men cannot send Him. If the Holy Spirit could be sent in man's offer, He would be neither sovereign nor effectual in His actions. God's power is sent by His purpose through the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

 

If man has the prerogative to offer the sinner a privilege which is above his ability to lay hold of, why does he not have the prerogative to offer the sinner the privilege which is above his depraved nature to receive? An external offer can never work an internal ability to lay hold of Jesus Christ. The indwelling Spirit of God is the principle of life. He does not enter by means of a man's offer. Men erroneously teach that the will of man, not the will of God, decides who will go to heaven, and that the pen of man, not the pen of God, writes his name in the book of life. The "evangelist" says, "Christ is ready to write your name in the Lamb's book of life, if you will only believe." However, the Bible states that the names of the elect were written in the Lamb's book of life before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). God's word does not authorize Arminian methods. Such methods cannot be used to proclaim the doctrines of grace.

 

Although depraved man has no desire for truth, he may evidence morality in his life. He has ears with which he can hear the general call of the gospel. Every unregenerate person can make judgments in natural things. But he is perseveringly determined against the truth of God (John 3:18-21). Therefore, Divine intervention is necessary before he can desire truth, hear the effectual call of the gospel, judge things according to truth, and be determined for the truth of God.

 

God does not give salvation to all men without exception. Many are named in Scripture who were never saved. All men do not come to the knowledge of the truth. God did not will as a decree or purpose that all men be saved. For God to decree the salvation of all if they will is not to purpose salvation. This would make God's will mutable and destroy the significance of God's purpose (Job 23:13). Scripture declares that Christ died for the sheep, His people, and many (John 10:15; Matt. 1:21; 20:28). Thus, Jesus Christ redeemed, reconciled, propitiated, ransomed, and became surety for all of those the Father gave Him in the covenant of redemption (John 6:37). The gospel is universal in the sense that it is sufficient to save all men without exception, if God had elected them. It is universal in that it should be proclaimed to all indiscriminately. The gospel is universal in the signification that all nationalities and kinds of people embrace it. The free offer of the gospel controversy is inseparably linked with the extent of redemption. If the extent were to all without exception, the offer must be to all without exception. However, redemption by Jesus Christ is limited to those the Father gave Him; therefore, it is not to all without exception. The gospel is not an offer but the power of God to salvation (Rom. 1:16).

 

Salvation is not offered to those for whom Christ died. The Holy Spirit applies the redemption Christ accomplished on the cross. Savior and saved are relative terms. The Savior supposes persons saved, and saved persons suppose the Savior. Every religious group has some method of salvation. "Churches" give invitations urging sinners to come forward. People are exhorted to make their decisions for Jesus. All who say they love Jesus or will raise their hands when requested to do so are counted among the saved. Many use what they call the four spiritual laws to bring about salvation. All the preceding formulas used by religious groups are contrary to Scripture. The gospel is not the means of regeneration, but it is the power of God to those who are regenerated. It is called "the gospel of your salvation" (Eph. 1:13). Salvation is the conversion of the one who has been regenerated.

 

Life is given, not offered, in regeneration. Life is not described as salvation through faith: "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" (John 3:8). Ezekiel described regeneration which occurs at God's time, not man's time (Ezek. 16:4-14). The Spirit gives life unconditionally, and faith cannot be attached to it. Conversion is through faith. The one to whom God gives the principle of life cooperates by repenting and believing in a conversion experience. God gives the principle of faith and enables the regenerated one to repent (Jer. 31:18). The gospel is not the means of begetting, but it is the means of a conversion experience. The whole thesis of II Timothy 1:8-10 is that life is brought to light by the gospel. Life being brought to light and life being brought into existence vastly differ. Life's existence is brought about by the Holy Spirit. Then, this life is brought to light by the gospel.

 

There is no more Scriptural basis for gospel regeneration than there is for baptismal regeneration or decisional regeneration. These all require man's cooperation. The gospel must be proclaimed to produce the new birth in gospel regeneration. But God gives the principle of life without human cooperation. An indiscriminate invitation cannot be extended to sinners for regeneration. The invitation should be given to the weary, thirsty, and heavy laden to come to Jesus Christ for rest and to have their thirst quenched.

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EFFECTUALLY CALLED TO FAITH

The one who has saved [sosantos, aorist active participle of sodzo, which means has saved] us, and who has called [kalesantos, aorist active participle of kaleo, which means has called] us with a holy calling [klesei, instrumental of klesis, which means call, calling, or station in life], not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His own purpose [prothesin, accusative feminine singular of the noun prothesis, meaning God planned or prepared before time] and grace [charin, accusative feminine singular of the noun charis, which means grace, free favor, or gift] having been given [dotheisan, aorist passive participle accusative feminine singular of didomi, which means to give, grant or bestow] to us in Christ Jesus before [pro, which means before or prior to] the times of ages.--II Timothy 1:9 (translation)

 

The disposition to receive Jesus Christ is the fruit of regeneration. The regenerated person possesses the spirit of faith (II Cor. 4:13). The spirit of faith is a power that can and will act. It is called into action by the gospel--the truth concerning Jesus Christ and His work. This spirit of faith holds Scripture as the truth of Christ, and it is assured of salvation. Therefore, the person with saving faith believes in God, in Christ, and this believing is by the spirit of faith. Saving faith does not stop with the word of God, but through the word reaches the Person of Christ and trusts Him. When saving faith begins to work in the person who has been regenerated by the sovereign Spirit, he believes in Scripture as God's word, in Jesus Christ who is the message of Scripture, and in his own salvation.

 

The Bible teaches both implicit and explicit faith. Implicit means implied rather than expressly stated, potentially contained, or unquestioning. Explicit means full and clearly expressed, leaving nothing implied, clearly developed or formulated, or unreserved expression.

 

The Bible does not speak of implicit faith in the sense of representing faith as the implicit exercise of the mind in which the person accepts a doctrine not because of his understanding but because of submission to a particular religious institution. Many denominations support the idea that implicit faith is faith in truths not known and explicit faith is faith in a known truth. They affirm that only a few primary truths need be known and that faith without knowledge as to all other truths is genuine and sufficient.

They advocate that just so long as a person is willing to submit to a few basic things of a particular denomination, and especially if he supports its program, he is all right. Contrary to these teachings, people are not converted by tradition or by giving allegiance to some man or some religious institution. They are converted by the truth of God's word.

 

There can be no genuine Biblical conversion experience apart from Biblical truth preached and embraced, because the message of God calls the gift of faith into exercise. Without the true gospel, there is no true exercise of faith. The truth that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God refutes the idea that the exercise of faith may be separated from the word of God. Knowledge is essential to faith. Biblical facts must be put in a redemptive framework to constitute the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without facts there is nothing but mysticism; without an explanation and understanding of those facts, there is nothing more than impotent history.

 

Christians do not deny that there are mysteries. But we distinguish between the comprehensiveness of evidence concerning the reality of miracles and the comprehension of a proposition with reference to doctrine. In intelligent exercise, religious ignorance is rebuked as sin. One-sidedness in religion thrives on fragments. Unless a preacher is found declaring the whole counsel of God over a period of time, he is thriving on fragments. Every God-called preacher will, in time, declare the whole counsel of God. He is unconcerned about speaking only on things that please people. His responsibility is to give the whole counsel of God, whether it pleases all or displeases many.

 

Explicit faith was manifested by the Psalmist when he prayed "Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding..." (Ps. 119:33,34). Explicit faith is expressed in the words of Proverbs 16:22--"Understanding is a fountain of life to him who has it; but the discipline of fools is folly" (NASB). Understanding is the fruit of regeneration. It goes deeper than the mind to the heart: "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness..." (Rom. 10:10). This spiritual understanding is not a summer stream but a deep flowing fountain: "The words of a man's mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook" (Prov. 18:4 NASB). Spiritual understanding comes from the wisdom of God that has been systematized and understood by the recipient of God's grace. Without a person's understanding being filled with heavenly light, it will be a poison fountain, not a wellspring of life. He cannot discern between good and evil. The discerner between good and evil possesses the Spirit of God (Heb. 5:14).

 

Explicit faith is illustrated in the high priestly prayer of Jesus Christ. The Lord prayed that His own might know Him (John 17:3). Those drawn by the Father shall all be taught of God (John 6:44,45). This is explicit faith. The elect person's faith is intelligent. It is based on the truth of God's word.

 

The Bible also teaches implicit faith: "If any one supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know" (I Cor. 8:2 NASB). Not knowing anything as we ought to know on any given subject is implicit faith. Paul exhorted the Philippian saints to wait for further enlightenment in case there was disagreement among themselves: "Let us therefore, as many as are perfect [mature], have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you" (Phil. 3:15 NASB). Through waiting, further study, and prayer, God would make known to them what they did not know. All Christians agree that their spiritual growth and understanding are less than they desire.

 

In the light of Scripture and experience, all believers to salvation have faith based on knowledge. At the same time, there is a sense in which their faith is implicit. Saving faith consists not in ignorance but knowledge. Faith is God's gift to the elect, and the elect shall be taught of God (John 6:45). This teaching calls faith into action (Rom. 10:17). Therefore, God is pleased by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe (I Cor. 1:21). Conclusively, there is the gift of faith; faith is taught; it is called into exercise; and the person who believes is saved by believing through the foolishness of preaching. It is not enough to believe implicitly without understanding to some extent the meaning of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Paul declared the testimony of God and was determined to know nothing among the Corinthians "...save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." His preaching was "...not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power..." that their faith might "...not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (I Cor. 2:2-5).

 

The Divine interpretation of faith is given: (1) Faith is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8). (2) It is the operation of God (Col. 2:12). (3) It is by the power of God (I Cor. 2:5).

 

The operation of the Spirit in giving life remains a mystery in the hands of God. Although the passage from death to life is a mystery, the passage from unconsciousness to consciousness of the new life is a door that is clearly marked. Faith which is the gift of God is called into exercise by the preaching of the gospel. Christ is embraced, and the individual knows he is a child of God. This is not blind faith.

 

Saving faith consists of the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). Undue reverence for any man or human institution is a precipice to destruction. Truth is not found in error, and light is not found in darkness. Knowledge is not found in ignorance. Divine revelation is the proper object of Divine faith. An infallible faith cannot believe a fallible object. Jesus Christ knows His sheep, and He is known of them. They will not follow a stranger (John 10:4,5). A fallible faith may believe an infallible Object--Jesus Christ. There were many who believed on Jesus Christ when they saw the miracles He performed, but Christ did not commit Himself to them because He knew what was in their hearts (John 2:23-25). The demons have a fallible faith, and they believe in the perfection of Jesus Christ (James 2:19). Simon the sorcerer believed and was baptized, but he continued in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity (Acts 8:13,23). He had fallible faith in an infallible Object--Jesus Christ; but he did not have saving faith. The Christian's person is fallible, but he possesses infallible faith.

 

The virgin Mary had implicit and explicit faith. God gave her faith, and she exercised that faith. Mary responded in faith to Gabriel's message: "And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word" (Luke 1:38). Here is an expression of explicit faith. It went beyond implicit faith. The virgin acquiesced to God's message through Gabriel. Explicit faith which is more than implicit faith acquiesces to the word of God. Mary was highly favored for the fruit of her womb, not because she was preserved from original sin (Luke 1:42). The fact that she had received grace from God proves conclusively that she was not preserved from original sin. Mary was not a dispenser of grace, but she was a recipient of grace. She is not a dispenser of favor, but she was a recipient of favor.

 

An example of the distinction between implicit and explicit faith is the Samaritans' response to the testimony of the woman of Samaria: "And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman..." (John 4:39). This was implicit faith. "...Many more believed because of his [Christ's] own word" (John 4:41). This is explicit faith. The Samaritans who first believed because of the testimony of the woman had been saved by God's grace; however, they did not rest solely in the testimony of the woman. Implicit faith is never satisfied until it is explicitly experienced. True faith does not stop with either the testimony of the local assembly or some person. It goes to the one true standard by which everything must be judged, the word of God. Few will relinquish the way they were raised; therefore, they have implicit faith based on ignorance.

 

The nobleman is another who exemplifies the distinction between implicit and explicit faith. The nobleman asked Christ to come down and heal his son (John 4:47). He had implicit faith that Christ could heal; but he thought that Christ must be near. Christ's ability to heal is not restricted by distance. The Lord told the nobleman to go his way because his son lived (John 4:50). The man believed the word Christ spoke to him. He had implicit faith. The nobleman's servants met him on his way home and told him his son lived. The nobleman inquired of them the hour of his son's improvement. When the servants told him, he knew it was the time he had asked the Lord to heal his son. The father's knowing was explicit faith.

 

The disciples' reaction to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is another example of the distinction between implicit and explicit faith (John 20). The disciples had been taught that Jesus Christ would die and rise again the third day from among the dead. They believed implicitly, but they had not experienced it. Their implicit faith must be made their own, and it would then become explicit.

 

Mary reported to Peter and John that the Lord's body was gone from the sepulchre. Peter and John ran to the sepulchre. John preceded Peter. He looked in and "saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in" (John 20:5). The word "saw" in this verse comes from the Greek word blepo, which means to be possessed of sight, having the power of seeing, to see, or to look. John simply saw at a glance. This is implicit faith. Coming, seeing, and hearing are all manifestations of faith. Peter followed John and went into the sepulchre "and seeth the linen clothes lie" (John 20:6). The word "seeth" comes from the Greek word theoreo, which means spectator, to gaze on, to contemplate, to behold, to view with interest and attention, or to survey. That means more than just looking in. "Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed" (John 20:8). The word "saw" comes from the Greek word eido, which means to perceive, to know, to discover, to grasp the significance of, to inspect, or to examine. It means to see and know. The meaning of this Greek word goes beyond implicit faith to explicit faith. Believers go from faith to faith (Rom. 1:17). The more one knows about the word of God the more he knows about God.

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10

 

EFFECTUALLY CALLED TO A HOLY LIFE

The one who has saved [sosantos, aorist active participle of sodzo, which means has saved] us, and who has called [kalesantos, aorist active participle of kaleo, which means has called] us with a holy calling [klesei, instrumental of klesis, which means call, calling, or station in life], not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His own purpose [prothesin, accusative feminine singular of the noun prothesis, meaning God planned or prepared before time] and grace [charin, accusative feminine singular of the noun charis, which means grace, free favor, or gift] having been given [dotheisan, aorist passive participle accusative feminine singular of didomi, which means to give, grant or bestow] to us in Christ Jesus before [pro, which means before or prior to] the times of ages.--II Timothy 1:9 (translation)

 

The word "holy" of II Timothy 1:9 is an adjective; therefore, the effectually called are called to a holy life. The Greek word for "holy" (hagios) describes a purpose for which one has been called. An individual is elected that he might be holy (Eph. 1:4). He is predestinated that he should be conformed to Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29). He is redeemed that Jesus Christ might take form in his life (Gal. 4:19). He is regenerated that he might be converted to Christ (John 3:3,14,15; Num. 21:6-9). The truth is revealed to him that he might be sanctified (John 17:17). His soul is to be restored that he might walk in the paths of righteousness for Christ's sake (Ps. 23:3). He is chastened by God that he might lead a life that is more pleasing to God and be a partaker of Christ's holiness (Heb. 12:14).

 

The following is the order in which God's purpose, which prepares an individual for practical sanctification, is executed: (1) The elect are set apart by Divine election in Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). (2) They are sanctified by blood in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:10-14). (3) They are sanctified by prevenient grace for Christ until regeneration (Jude 1). (4) They are sanctified by the Spirit of regeneration (I Cor. 6:11). (5) They are sanctified by faith in a conversion experience (Acts 26:18). (6) They are sanctified by truth in practical Christian living (John 17:17; Eph. 5:26). (7) They will be sanctified by glorification in the kingdom (I John 3:2).

 

Salvation took place in eternity in the mind of God. That salvation includes God's purpose, election, predestination, redemption through the work of Christ, and regeneration. Calling is the fruit of God's purpose, the redemptive work of Christ, and regeneration. God has called us to a holy life. The believer follows this stream of progressive sanctification as he looks backward. He does not begin with God's purpose but with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit until the redemption of the purchased possession.

 

How can one know if God purposed to save him? This knowledge comes only by the effectual call: "...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" (II Thess. 2:13,14). Christians are exhorted to make their calling and election sure (II Pet. 1:10). The person who has made his calling and election sure evidences grace by a sanctified life. He loves the things of the Lord and loves to be with God's people. There is a change in his life that keeps changing with his progressive sanctification. By the grace of God, he is Christ oriented; and he can follow the stream of progressive sanctification back to its fountainhead--God's eternal purpose. Knowledge of election is known only by the light of sanctifying grace in the life of an individual.

 

Those who have been effectually called will persevere because the grace of God within us enables us to persevere. The "never perishing" of the sheep is perseverance (John 10:28). The believer's security does not depend on his perseverance but on God's preservation which enables him to persevere. Nothing can snatch the sheep out of Christ's hand. This is preservation. The Biblical interpretation of the incapability of anything to pluck the sheep from Christ's hand is that all He foreknew He predestined, called, justified, and glorified (Rom. 8:29,30). Therefore, nothing can separate them from the love of Jesus Christ. The Father who is greater than all gave the sheep to Jesus Christ (John 10:29). The sheep have double security. They are not only in the hand of the crucified Savior but also in the hand of God the Father. The Father and the Son are concerned about the security of the sheep. The Christian must not lose sight of the eternal love of the Father in his zeal for Christ's glory. The sheep are secure because Jesus Christ and the Father are one (John 10:30). The Son and the Father are one in nature because the essence of God is indivisible. Therefore, the sheep are preserved by the Father and the Son.

 

Preservation by God results in the believer's perseverance by faith. Perseverance is simply the doxology to preservation. The final test of Christianity is perseverance. It is not how one begins but how he concludes. The person who possesses saving faith will endure--persevere--to the end. That does not mean that he will not make mistakes, but he will not habitually commit acts of sin. His God-given faith enables him to persevere: "...the just shall live by his faith" (Hab. 2:4). Three references to this verse are recorded in the New Testament. In Romans 1:17, faith is exhibited as working salvation from the evil which is in the world through lust. In Galatians 3:11, faith is shown bringing us to the knowledge of justification which saves us from the sentence of death. In Hebrews 10:38, faith is demonstrated as the life of perseverance. The word "just" in Romans, "faith" in Galatians, and "live" in Hebrews are emphatic words. The individual who possesses faith which is God's gift perseveres.

 

Perseverance, like every other Biblical truth, is a subject of great debate. There are those who appeal to the admonitions of such Scriptures as I Corinthians 10:12, Colossians 1:22 and 23, Hebrews 3:14, and Hebrews 6:11. Others say that God would not warn us if it were impossible for us to fall from grace. Those who believe in the "eternal security of the believer" regardless of the way they live have a faulty understanding of the nature of salvation. It is not in the best interest of truth to substitute the designation "eternal security" for the "perseverance of the saints." Perseverance guards against the idea of security irrespective of the extent to which a person may fall and remain in sin. "Easy believism" promoters are responsible for the oversimplification of eternal security.

 

Perseverance is the key to the correct understanding of the Scriptures on the security of the believer. It enables the believer to understand the admonitions; and at the same time, it destroys any idea of antinomianism. Preservation and perseverance are not to be understood as cooperative effort in one's salvation. Perseverance is the fruit, or doxology, of the preservation by the power of God.

 

Three ideas conveyed by the word "grace" are (1) grace and power, (2) directed by love, and (3) grace is free because it is love. The redemption that was accomplished by Jesus Christ on the cross and the regeneration by the Holy Spirit which takes place in time were not so imperfectly wrought that they left something to be performed by the recipient for his security. God's preservation is not dependent on the believer's perseverance for security. God preserves, and He gives us the equipment to enable us to persevere. When one believes, he keeps on believing. There will never come a time in his life that he does not believe (I John 5:1). The true believer perseveres to the very end. He is kept by the power of God through faith. Perseverance is necessary to the manifestation of salvation.

 

Believers are commanded to persevere in the same way that they are exhorted to make their calling and election sure. As persons are exhorted to repent, although it is already determined that the elect shall repent, saints are commanded to persevere, although it is already determined they shall persevere. Perseverance is the duty of the Christian. Ceasing to watch and pray would demonstrate that the individual did not possess saving faith. Perseverance is not given to believers apart from faith, but it is realized only within the context of faith. That does not mean that it should not be preached. Perseverance does not depend on the individual but on God's grace within him (Phil. 1:6).

 

Steadfastness does not issue from man's flesh and blood but from a vital union with Jesus Christ. There are many admonitions by God to steadfastness, but they are misunderstood by many religionists. Believers are not brought to a crossroads with two equally possible directions--heaven and hell. None of the admonitions in God's word present a second transition, from life to death. The Epistle to the Hebrews is full of admonitions, but it is also full of consolations. In this way, the perseverance of God's people is accomplished. Admonitions appeal to the reality of faith. Admonitions and perseverance are not opposites. Contradiction arises only from misunderstanding the nature of perseverance and treating it as something completely divorced from faith which is the gift of God.

 

The natural mind is unable to comprehend perseverance. Satan abhors it. The world ridicules it. The ignorant and hypocrites abuse it. The heretics oppose it. But the body of Jesus Christ has always loved it and consistently, constantly defended it.

 

Saving faith perseveres. Discouragement because of some trial or circumstance will not cause the child of God to turn back. He cannot turn back because he is "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (I Pet. 1:5).

 

A reverential fear of God placed in the heart in regeneration prevents the child of God from doing a lot of things he would otherwise do. This is progressive sanctification. Our graces are imperfect, and our comforts ebb and flow. But God's foundation stands sure (II Tim. 2:19). Those built on the rock of God's eternal purpose need not fear falling away. Neither the power of man nor the violence of temptation shall ever be able to overturn them.

 

In view of the positional sanctification of individuals by God, the sanctified person should sanctify himself practically: "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (I Pet. 3:15). The regenerated are effectually called to holiness of life; but that does not mean they are called to a perfect life, because there is no sinless perfection in this life. Internal sanctification wrought in the heart by the Spirit in regeneration produces external sanctification.

 

Negatively, God has not called His children to uncleanness. Positively, He has called them to holiness (I Thess. 4:7). God has not called us for the purpose of impurity but for sanctification. There is a sanctification before time, a sanctification in time, and a sanctification when time shall be no more. The setting apart before time is in the purpose of God. The setting apart in time is by regeneration, faith, truth, etc. The setting apart when time shall be no more will be when we shall be set apart as perfect individuals in the presence of Christ.

 

The truth of sanctification may be illustrated with the bridegroom and his bride. Isaac, the groom, indirectly revealed himself to his future bride through Abraham's servant (Gen. 24). The Lord Jesus Christ reveals Himself to us indirectly as the groom would to his bride-to-be. When the groom has revealed himself to his future bride and his love for her is manifested, she responds because love responds to love (I John 4:10). Rebekah willingly went with the servant to meet Isaac. There was a time of preparation between the time Rebekah said "I will go" and the time she saw Isaac. The time from a conversion experience until the wedding ceremony is a time of preparation, practical sanctification, and holy living.

 

Those regenerated and effectually called by the gospel are espoused to Jesus Christ, the one Husband, until the time of the wedding: "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (II Cor. 11:2). Genuine love for the groom caused an espoused young woman to be true to him during the preparation period. This is a time of preparation by the regenerated and converted person for that grand and glorious event when she will be married to the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The word "espoused" comes from the Greek verb (ermosamen, aorist middle indicative of armodzo) which means to fit together, unite, join in marriage, espouse, or betroth. It is used in the verb form only in II Corinthians 11:2. The apostle Paul's desire was to present the Corinthian Christians as chaste virgins to Christ. The Greek word translated "chaste" (hagnen) comes from the same Greek word (hagnos) that means "clean and pure" (II Cor. 7:11; Phil. 4:8; I Tim. 5:22; Titus 2:5; James 3:17; I Pet. 3:2; I John 3:3). Internal sanctification by the Spirit in regeneration is followed by setting apart by the effectual call. Hence, the believer is set apart from both subjective and objective darkness.

 

The deliverance from subjective darkness is complete. This is regeneration. The deliverance from objective darkness is incomplete. This deliverance continues through growth in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Objective light may either increase or decrease. It will increase as we are progressively sanctified. However, disobedience to objective light will cause it to decrease in the life of the person who has been delivered from subjective darkness. As long as one's eye is single, it is focused on Jesus Christ; and the whole body is full of light. But when one's eye is not focused on Jesus Christ, there will be darkness; and he will stumble and fall (Luke 11:34).

 

The apostle Paul exhorted the Thessalonian Christians to godly living: "FURTHERMORE then we beseech you, brethren and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more" (I Thess. 4:1). These Christians had received the word of God as God's word and not man's word, and they had welcomed it (I Thess. 2:13). Since they had received the word and welcomed it, they should walk as the children of life. The word of God effectually works in every person who has been effectually called. The commandments that Paul gave to the Thessalonians were through (dia, ablative of agency) the Lord Jesus Christ (I Thess. 4:2). They were the commandments of Christ going through the apostle. He gave the message that the Lord Jesus gave him to give.

 

Practical sanctification is the will of God for every Christian (I Thess. 4:3). Each believer, whether male or female, should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification: "that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor" (I Thess. 4:4 NASB). Paul was exhorting Christians to get mastery over their bodies. The child of God has the ability to get his body under control because he has the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit within.

 

Paul tells us how the vessel should be used. It is not to be regarded outside the enclosure of moral responsibility. Christians are to avoid the very appearance of evil (I Thess. 5:22). The apostle beseeches us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, which is our reasonable service (Rom. 12:1). We are not to be conformed to this world but transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). The apostle himself had learned how to keep his vessel under control (I Cor. 9:27). The Christian's body and spirit are not his own. They belong to Christ (I Cor. 6:15-20). Each child of God must cleanse himself from "all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (II Cor. 7:1). The vessel must not be neglected or mutilated by asceticism (Col. 2:23). A person cannot properly function mentally or spiritually when he neglects his body.

 

The body must not be made an instrument of unrighteousness through lustful passions, like the Gentiles who do not know God (I Thess. 4:4,5). It must be made a servant of the Christian and not allowed to be his master. This vessel must be set aside for holy use, because there are things more important than the things of time. The following are reasons this body must be treated with honor: (1) The body has been fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14). (2) It is the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19). (3) It is the house of a heavenly treasure (II Cor. 4:7). (4) It is the heir of resurrection (I Cor. 15:19-23). (5) It is a vessel for honorable use (Rom. 9:21). Some things are enumerated in I Thessalonians 4 that restrain the people of God from making their vessels masters of lustful passion: the knowledge of the commandments of God (v. 2); regard for the brethren (v. 6); Divine vengeance (v. 6); the nature of the Divine call (v. 7); the gift of the Holy Spirit, preventing sin that involves a denial of God (v. 8); the teaching of Christians by God to love one another (v. 9); and concern for those without (v. 10).

 

Christian bodies are vessels of mercy. There was nothing in them by nature better than that which is found in the vessels of wrath (Rom. 9:21-23). Had the sovereign God left them alone, they would be as base and vile as the vessels of wrath. The difference between the vessels of mercy and the vessels of wrath is the grace of God. Vessels of wrath fit themselves for destruction, but grace alone can prepare a soul to the glory of God. The vessels of mercy are made of the same clay as the vessels of wrath. Both are depraved. The vessels of mercy, as much as any other portion of the clay, are entirely in the potter's hands. God's chosen ones are vessels, and a vessel is not a fountain. It is not a creator of the water it contains. It is only a container of what God has placed within it. Hence, by nature, the redeemed are not fountains out of whom anything good springs. Before regeneration, the vessel is only full of itself. After regeneration, the person is in grace and truth (John 1:16,17). The regenerated are not vessels of merit but of mercy. The clay is not put on a wheel and left to mere chance. It is in the hands of the sovereign God to do with as and when He pleases. The Potter first makes an outline of the vessel in election, and He imprints it on His vessels of mercy in regeneration. It is manifested in faith, love, and hope.

 

Every recipient of God's grace bears in his person the marks of Christ. The apostle Paul stated that he bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus (Gal. 6:17). He also stated that he always bore in his body "the dying of the Lord Jesus" (II Cor. 4:10). Paul, under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, referred to Christ in His suffering as "Jesus" in His human nature. "...Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). But the disciples called Him Jesus Christ our Lord, Christ Jesus, Jesus Christ, and Master and Lord. As Jesus, the Son of God spent much physical strength and spiritual energy in the service of others. He was relentlessly opposed by politicians and religionists. He spent sleepless nights and exhausting days. He came into this world dying. The holy life that He lived was one of dying. His death on the cross was the final stage of that dying. The apostle Paul knew--to a degree--what it was to live a life that was continually dying and found its consummation in his own death. He experienced--to a degree--the feeling of one under the sentence of death (II Tim. 4:6,7). Neither physical suffering nor the world's hatred overcame the apostle Paul. He bore in his body the dying of Jesus, and the life of Christ was made manifest in his flesh.

 

A Christian should master his vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passions of lust (I Thess. 4:4,5). The person who has been positionally sanctified will not live like one who does not know Jesus Christ (I John 3:6-9). Progressive sanctification takes in every aspect of one's life: "Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thess. 5:22,23). Without holiness, no man shall see God (Heb. 12:14). God has saved us and effectually called us to a holy life (II Tim. 1:9).

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11

 

SALVATION ON THE BASIS OF GOD'S PURPOSE

The one who has saved [sosantos, aorist active participle of sodzo, which means has saved] us, and who has called [kalesantos, aorist active participle of kaleo, which means has called] us with a holy calling [klesei, instrumental of klesis, which means call, calling, or station in life], not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His own purpose [prothesin, accusative feminine singular of the noun prothesis, meaning God planned or prepared before time] and grace [charin, accusative feminine singular of the noun charis, which means grace, free favor, or gift] having been given [dotheisan, aorist passive participle accusative feminine singular of didomi, which means to give, grant or bestow] to us in Christ Jesus before [pro, which means before or prior to] the times of ages.--II Timothy 1:9 (translation)

 

God is the one who has saved us "not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His own purpose." Salvation is discussed negatively and positively in this verse. The negative side is that God has not saved us on the basis of our works. The positive side is that He has saved us on the basis of His own purpose and grace. Paul was not condemning works, but he was placing them in their proper perspective. They do not contribute to one's salvation. Salvation is on the basis of God's purpose and grace.

 

The negative and positive sides of salvation are also expressed in Titus 3:5-8. The negative expression "not according to [on the basis of] our works" of II Timothy 1:9 reads "Not by works of righteousness which we have done" in Titus 3:5. The washing, renewing, renewer, and renewed of Titus 3:5-8 emphasize the positive side of salvation. The washing here is a once-for-all cleansing never to be repeated (John 13:10; I Cor. 6:11). The renewing is through the Holy Spirit. It begins in regeneration and never ceases until we are perfected in the likeness of Jesus Christ (I John 3:2,3). The renewer is the Holy Spirit. He applies the redemptive work of Jesus Christ to the heart of the elect and continues renewing those He has regenerated. The renewed must be careful to maintain good works. A Christian's good works flow from faith which is the fruit of regeneration. They do not flow toward faith, and they are not mixed with faith in order for one to experience salvation. As a stream flows from and not toward its source, good works flow from their source which is regeneration. One does not first believe and is then born again, but he who believes has already been born of the Spirit of God (I John 5:1).

 

God saves and calls on the basis of His own purpose. Like the different attributes of God, the different aspects of Biblical doctrine must harmonize. The purpose of God carries with it many parts; but like the perfection of God, it is one and supreme. Omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, love, justice, holiness, etc., are all attributes of the one supreme God. Likewise, the many facets of God's purpose form but one purpose because "...he is in one mind, and who can turn him..." (Job 23:13). This purpose was formed in eternity. Therefore, it is called the eternal purpose (Eph. 3:11). All the parts of God's purpose were known intuitively by Him, thus being independent of any reasoning process by Him. God does not reason as we do.

 

God's purpose is a determination, an edict, or a rule. It is an order of One having supreme authority: "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it" (Is. 46:9-11). Purposing to create or to regenerate is neither creating nor regenerating. It is an internal manifestation and exercise of the Divine attributes which indicate what shall be done, but this is not the same as its execution. God's purpose includes both the end and the means to the end, because His purpose is executed by means. (1) Some are chosen to salvation (Eph. 1:4). (2) Those chosen to salvation were chosen to be redeemed by the Son (Eph. 1:7). (3) Those chosen to be redeemed are chosen to be regenerated by the Spirit (John 3:8; Titus 3:5). (4) Those chosen to be regenerated are chosen to believe (Acts 13:48). (5) Those chosen to believe are chosen to be holy (Eph. 1:4; Heb. 12:14). (6) Those chosen to be holy are chosen to persevere (Heb. 10:39). (7) Those chosen to persevere are chosen to be glorified (Rom. 8:29,30).

 

The execution of God's purpose is in time. Our realization of the many parts of God's purpose is successive. Christ's incarnation, growing up, public ministry, deeds performed, miracles wrought, death on the cross, resurrection, and ascension were executed; and there was succession in their execution. Although these events were successive, they were not successive with God.

 

God's purpose is revealed through the blood of the eternal covenant: "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. Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Heb. 13:20,21). The eternal covenant has the God of peace as its Author, the great Shepherd of the sheep as its fulfillment, and the sheep for whom Christ died as its recipients.

 

The elect of God are the recipients of the provisions of the eternal covenant by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit not only performs an inward work in the elect, but His indwelling presence also gives us the ability to outwardly manifest the inward grace. The highest aim in the lives of Christians is to do the will of God. God working in and through believers is too wonderful for us to comprehend. It is more difficult to explain than the moving of sap through the branches of a fruit tree causing it to leaf, blossom, and produce fruit.

 

Anyone who says the eternal covenant of grace is bilateral, thus making it conditional, knows little or nothing about either depravity or grace. The new birth occurs when God gives life to the passive sinner by the agency of the Holy Spirit, thus enabling the recipient to become active in repenting and believing, which he could not do before being quickened. Both repentance and faith are the evidences, not the cause, of the new birth.

 

A conditional covenant is one in which a person must fulfill the conditions before he receives the blessings. An unconditional covenant is one in which there is no "if" or "condition" attached. It is absolute because the one making such a covenant is free from any restriction for its fulfillment. God's promise to save the chosen from among all mankind is unconditional, because nothing is in the depraved sinner that can meet the condition of salvation. However, there are conditions which must be met by the elect who have been regenerated in order for certain blessings to be experienced in the Christian life. The same grace which saves also teaches how the saved should live (Titus 2:11-13). Although we must not overlook either the unconditional or conditional aspects of the covenants made in time, let us not be guilty of confusing them. While conditionality is true in many things as far as man is concerned, to apply this to the all-inclusive plan of God is to deny His fixed purpose.

 

The covenants made in time cannot make void that which is eternal. Although the eternal covenant of grace was confirmed by God in Christ before it was revealed to man, the covenants of time manifest the progressive way in which God reveals Himself to man. The promise of God in Genesis 3:15, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel" (NASB), was rooted in the electing grace of God's eternal covenant. The Abrahamic covenant has an important bearing on both soteriology and eschatology. Do not overlook the "I will" and "I shall" of God. God's covenant at Sinai was an expression of grace because it intensified not only the awareness of sin but also the longing for the promised Deliverer. It was the outcome of the Abrahamic covenant. "And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them [knew them]" (Ex. 2:24,25). The Palestinian covenant reaffirmed to Israel their title deed to the land of promise. In spite of Israel's unfaithfulness, the covenant was theirs by promise (Gen. 17:7,8; Deut. 30:1-10). The Davidic covenant was to secure the "house," "throne," and "kingdom" (II Sam. 7). Finally, the new covenant is the culmination of God's activity in the covenants of the Old Testament (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8). This covenant is made with literal Israel and Judah--the two parts of the divided kingdom (I Kings 11;12), not with spiritual Israel, except as Gentile believers are grafted on the stock of Israel (Rom. 11:16-27). The new covenant, as well as the old, was made with Israel. God makes no covenants with Gentiles. Therefore, Israel is the chosen channel through whom God brought the Savior and brings salvation to the elect from among the nations of the world.

 

The unconditional covenant is unilateral between the Persons in the Godhead. It was made between equals. It is eternal and positional. The Abrahamic covenant typified the covenant of grace by having an eternal aspect. The eternal aspect of the covenants in time has both unconditional and conditional aspects. Thus, the unconditional aspect made in time points to the eternal covenant of grace. Conditional covenants are bilateral. They are made between God who is superior and those with whom He makes the conditional covenants. They are made between unequals. These covenants are conditional in that they have to do with the state rather than the position of the believer. Conditional covenants are made in time.

 

Failure to recognize the difference between an unconditional and a conditional covenant is to go astray in Biblical teaching. For example, God's promise to save the elect is unconditional (John 6:37; 17:1-24; II Pet. 3:9,15). Nothing in the depraved sinner can meet the conditions of salvation. On the other hand, blessings conditioned on obedience are promised to the regenerated. Failure to obey will result in chastisement (Heb. 12:5-13) and may result in physical death (I Cor. 11:30; I John 5:16). However, chastisement and physical death, which are conditioned on the state of the elect, can never affect our standing. Standing is based on God's grace in the eternal, unconditional covenant made with equals (Heb. 13:20,21), but state is based on the conditional covenants that God made with unequals. Since covenants made in time are with unequals, both unconditional and conditional aspects may be in the same covenant. The conditional aspect does not nullify the unconditional aspect. For example, God's covenant with Abraham was rooted in God's electing grace. Therefore, it was established on the "I will" of God, not "I will if you will." A denial of God's fixed purpose impugns the basic truths of the Bible. However, God's fixed purpose with Abraham did not remove Abraham's responsibility to keep God's covenant (Gen. 17:9). Responsibility always accompanies God's application of grace.

 

Many confuse the eternal covenant of grace with the covenants of time. There are two parts but not two parties in God's eternal covenant of grace. Man is responsible to love God with all his heart, soul, and strength (Deut. 6:5). However, man's responsibility is not a condition for the fulfillment of God's promise. Man's love and obedience are the fruits of God's work. God sovereignly and unconditionally works grace in the hearts of the elect. Thus, by the power of the new life, renewed men are able to love and obey God.

 

The prevailing idea among religionists is that the eternal covenant of grace is an agreement between God and man, with the following chief elements: (1) The promise of eternal life is on God's part. (2) Faith and obedience are on man's part. Hence, the covenant must be defined as a means to an end, not as the end in itself. This false view of grace would make God's eternal covenant of grace unilateral only in its origin but bilateral in its operation, because man must become a party to it by giving his consent to be regenerated. The sinner who is dead in trespasses and sins cannot become a party in relation to the living God because God's covenant of grace is made between equals. God is infinite; man is finite. The passive sinner has nothing to offer God. No one would make a covenant with another who owes a debt which he could never pay. However, those who believe in free will represent God as doing what they themselves would not do.

 

A covenant becomes effective only when the parties are able to fulfill the condition of a particular covenant. This leaves depraved man out of the covenant of grace because he is spiritually impotent. There are two reasons why God did not make the covenant of grace with fallen man: (1) Man is a creature; therefore, his ability to do anything must be supplied by God. (2) Man is a fallen creature; hence, he is unable to do anything of a spiritual nature. However, there is an eternal covenant of grace in which the equal Persons in the Godhead were the contracting parties, and the elect become the beneficiaries. The three contracting parties are (1) the electing Father who is invisible, (2) the Son who is manifested, and (3) the communicating Spirit who regenerates and indwells. Furthermore, the Father's love is sealed up to the elect; the elect are sealed in the Son; the elect are sealed by the Holy Spirit.

 

Although the fall brought in a state of disorder, rebellion, and enmity, the "covenant of grace" is a covenant of peace to the recipients of grace (Heb. 13:20). From all eternity, God purposed in Himself the counsel of peace. God alone is the Author of peace, because He has made peace by the blood of Christ's cross (Col. 1:20). Peace is impossible until sin is positionally put away. Persons who believe in free will exhort sinners to "make peace with God," thus proving that they do not understand that God alone is the Author of peace. The following things are seen in the eternal character of the covenant of grace: (1) Its antiquity is revealed by its outdating all other covenants. (2) Its reliability is portrayed by its having the eternal God as its Author. (3) Its immutability is disclosed by its unchangeableness.

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SALVATION ON THE BASIS OF GOD'S GRACE

The one who has saved [sosantos, aorist active participle of sodzo, which means has saved] us, and who has called [kalesantos, aorist active participle of kaleo, which means has called] us with a holy calling [klesei, instrumental of klesis, which means call, calling, or station in life], not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His own purpose [prothesin, accusative feminine singular of the noun prothesis, meaning God planned or prepared before time] and grace [charin, accusative feminine singular of the noun charis, which means grace, free favor, or gift] having been given [dotheisan, aorist passive participle accusative feminine singular of didomi, which means to give, grant or bestow] to us in Christ Jesus before [pro, which means before or prior to] the times of ages.--II Timothy 1:9 (translation)

 

Salvation and calling are not on the basis of God's purpose only but on the basis of grace. Grace is free and unmerited favor manifested by the sovereign God on those He purposed to save. This word for grace is appropriate to designate the relationship and conduct of the sovereign God toward the elect through Jesus Christ. The grace of God has appeared: "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men" (Titus 2:11 NASB). In another translation it reads, "For the grace of God's saving appeared to all men." It is doubtful whether it is correct to attach the statement "to all men" to the verb, thus asserting the universality of the manifestation. Bringing salvation to all men must be understood in the sense of all classes of men. The appearance of the grace of God refers to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Justification is by God's grace: "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24). Grace can flow to us only through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

 

If grace were dependent on man's faith, it would come through the mere offer of Jesus Christ or the gospel. If it gave a free offer, grace could not reign: "...sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal righteousness by Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 5:21). Grace reigns in election, because it was given the elect in Christ before the world began. Grace reigns in redemption. It brought Jesus Christ into the world to die for the elect. Grace reigns in regeneration. By grace, the elect are born of the Spirit. Grace reigns in sanctification. By grace, the elected, redeemed, regenerated person embraces Jesus Christ as Lord by faith. Grace reigns in glorification. The elected, redeemed, regenerated, converted person will be glorified.

We rejoice in what God has done for us, but we also rejoice in the results of what He has done for us. Thanking God for what He has done for us is a manifestation of grace. Graciousness toward others is a manifestation of the grace of God that has been wrought in one's heart by the Holy Spirit, called "the Spirit of grace." Liberality, which is another translation of the Greek word for grace, demonstrates God's grace within (I Cor. 16:3). Self-centeredness does not manifest grace. But liberality, graciousness, thankfulness, and pleasure in the things of God are manifestations of grace having been wrought in our hearts.

 

The Greek word for grace is also translated "benefit" in II Corinthians 1:15. This verse does not teach what the Charismatics say about it. Paul was talking about the benefits of his oral and written teaching. There is no substitute for the oral ministry and teaching of God's word at God's appointed time in God's appointed place by God's appointed man. The gift of II Corinthians 8:4 comes from the same Greek word for grace. Among the different translations of the Greek word charis, "grace" is the most outstanding. Grace signifies what God has purposed to do and what God does do in time in the heart of every person He purposed to save by His unmerited favor. The other translations are simply the fruit of the grace of God having been wrought in our hearts. Absence of fruit indicates that there is no grace.

 

Grace is an appropriate designation of the relationship and conduct of God toward the elect through Jesus Christ. Election is the first moving of God's grace looking toward salvation. God's purpose and grace were given to the elect in Christ Jesus before the world began (Eph. 1:4). The sheep were in God's eternal covenant, and they are Christ's by gift (John 6:37) and purchase (John 10:11,15). The grace of God will search and find all who have been elected to salvation until the last one is brought into the ark of safety (John 6:37). The grace of God brings salvation planned by the Father, purchased by the Son, and applied by the Spirit.

 

Grace is an act of favor wherein no mention can ever be made of obligation. This element of spontaneousness is not prominent in the classical use of the word charis, although it is traceable even in classical Greek. However, in the New Testament, the element especially emphasized is God's dealing with His chosen ones that He purposed to save by His grace. We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). We believe through grace (Acts 18:27). One does not believe in order to get grace; but having already received grace, he is enabled by this grace to embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

 

The apostle Paul set grace in contrast with debt (Rom. 4:4,16), works (Rom. 11:6), and law (Rom. 4:13-16). Grace has been manifested by the appearing of Jesus Christ (II Tim. 1:10). He is full of grace and truth for the benefit of those the Father gave Him in the covenant of redemption (John 1:14,16).

 

A person cannot believe in grace without believing in Divine election (Rom. 11:5). The statement "a remnant according to the election of grace" means the choice of grace proves that salvation is in the purpose of God and not in the determination proceeding from the so-called will of man. Salvation, therefore, is not man's choice of God, but it is God's choice of man. If man were left in the enmity of his depraved nature, he would not and could never choose Jesus Christ. A message on grace may be tolerated in any congregation, but the depraved heart is always enraged at grace illustrated. As man has the rightistians must act toward others in the grace that has been shown to them. The Lord making the sun to shine on the evil and on the good and the rain to fall on the just and on the unjust exemplifies the actions of Christians toward one another. Those who advocate common grace use the statement "he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" of Matthew 5:45 to substantiate their view. But this verse of Scripture is better understood in the light of God's providence and forbearance than associated with the humanly coined phrase,"common grace."

 

The Greek word for "providence" (pronoia) means forethought, provident care, or to make provision for (Acts 24:2; Rom. 13:14). God has made provision for all His creatures. The verb form of this word means to perceive before or to provide for one (I Tim. 5:8). It is used in the sense of taking thought for or caring for (Rom. 12:17; II Cor. 8:21). Providence is purpose in execution.

 

The Greek word for forbearance (anoche) means toleration or forbearance (Rom. 2:4; 3:25). God tolerates many for the sake of those He gave to the Son in the covenant of redemption. In His toleration, God does not withhold His goodness in the sense of sending sunshine and rain and enlightening every rational person with the light of general knowledge (John 1:4; Rom. 1:19-21). The wheat and tares grow up together in the world until the harvest.

 

Christians acting toward others in grace that has been shown them is a manifestation of imparted righteousness. Loving our enemies is our duty. We do not know how many of them might be among those the Father gave the Son in the covenant of redemption. This is the greatest and strongest motive for manifesting love to our enemies. God loved us when we were His enemies (Rom. 5:6-10). He continued to do good things for us in His providence when we were unthankful and unholy. Believers do not know who are the elect. Therefore, we are to act indiscriminately toward our neighbors.

 

A hungry and thirsty enemy should be given food and drink: "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee" (Prov. 25:21,22). Do not expect reward from the enemy. The Lord will give the reward. The apostle Paul exhorted Christians to "Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men....Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom. 12:17,21). The same principle is taught in I Thessalonians 5:15.

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GRACE GIVEN IN CHRIST JESUS

The one who has saved [sosantos, aorist active participle of sodzo, which means has saved] us, and who has called [kalesantos, aorist active participle of kaleo, which means has called] us with a holy calling [klesei, instrumental of klesis, which means call, calling, or station in life], not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His own purpose [prothesin, accusative feminine singular of the noun prothesis, meaning God planned or prepared before time] and grace [charin, accusative feminine singular of the noun charis, which means grace, free favor, or gift] having been given [dotheisan, aorist passive participle accusative feminine singular of didomi, which means to give, grant or bestow] to us in Christ Jesus before [pro, which means before or prior to] the times of ages.--II Timothy 1:9 (translation)

 

Grace was given to the elect in Christ Jesus in the purpose of God before "the times of ages." The elect are given to Jesus Christ before the foundation of the world; therefore, they are chosen in Him. Those chosen in Christ are redeemed in time. Jesus Christ is God's elect: "BEHOLD my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles" (Is. 42:1). In I Peter 2:6, the Lord Jesus is called God's elect: "...Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious...." Christ was chosen by the Father to redeem us, and we are chosen in Jesus Christ. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus Christ would come as a Servant; He was Divinely chosen for His work; He would be endowed with the Spirit; He would be tender and gentle; His courage would be equal to His gentleness; He had assurance in the success of His cause; He was a Prophet of things to come.

 

The elect Redeemer, therefore, is represented as acting under the appointment and authorization of the eternal Father. God, as the sovereign against whom man has sinned, was alone competent to determine whether any mediation could be admitted between Himself and His rebellious creatures. He also must determine the nature that mediation should be, if any. Jesus Christ is the Head of election and of the elect of God. Therefore, He is said in predestination to be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:29). The Father did not choose some from among mankind apart from Jesus Christ. As in the woman's womb, the head and members are not conceived separately; Jesus Christ, the Head, and the members, the body of Christ, were formed together in election. God's choice did not terminate with Christ "and" us but with us "in" Christ. Divine election must be considered apart from Jesus Christ as the Head of the elect. Jesus Christ has life in Himself (John 1:4; 5:26). The last Adam--Jesus Christ--was made a quickening spirit (I Cor. 15:45). This was not for Himself but the elect. The elect are reconciled to God; but in this reconciliation, the finite remains the creature and the Infinite remains the sovereign Creator. The Son is the fountain of Divine life because He is equal with the Father.

 

There is a union that involves more than regeneration by the Holy Spirit. It also involves more than faith in Jesus Christ. The elect's union with Jesus Christ has a nature peculiar to itself. It may be compared with another union but can never be fully explained by any other union. The union between the human body and the human soul is a wonder. It is an inexplicable fact. The union between mother and child is a unique union in its sphere. It is difficult to explain, but it is a fact. The union between a vine and its branches is an inexplicable union of life. The union between a man and his wife is a mystery, but it is a fact. The union we have with Jesus Christ cannot be explained by these unions. We cannot understand the hypostatic union of the Divine nature to the human nature of Jesus Christ; yet we accept it as a Biblical fact. But we cannot comprehend the mystery of it. Although some things about it are explained, it remains a mystery; and it will always be a mystery. The mystery of the union between Jesus Christ and the believer is a mystery, but the soul of every regenerated person is satisfied to know he is united to Jesus Christ.

A very subtle doctrine concerning union which is not the truth of Holy Scripture is taught by some. Those who hold this doctrine teach that the thesis--God is the Creator and we are the creatures of God's creative act--and the antithesis--the union between God and man--find their synthesis in the Mediator who is both infinite and finite. They declare that God is the Creator; man is the creature. God is infinite; man is finite. God dwells in the eternal; man lives in the temporal. God is holy; man is unholy. God is righteous; man is unrighteous. But their opinion is that the differences disappear in Christ who mediates equally between God and man, spirit and body, time and eternity, and heaven and hell. Thus, they conclude that in Christ as Mediator all contrasts disappear.

 

Contrary to that subtle doctrine concerning union, the contrast between God and man shall never cease. God will always be the infinite, and man will always be the finite. God will always be the Creator and man the creature. Jesus Christ united in Himself the Divine and human natures, but these two natures are never mixed or blended. Each retains its own properties. If all contrasts were destroyed, man would become God. Heaven will always be heaven. Hell will always be hell. God will always be the Creator. Man will always be the creature. These contrasts will never be destroyed.

 

Union with Christ is a great impenetrable mystery, but the different aspects of this union are not mysterious. They are stated in terms which we can understand, even though we cannot fully comprehend them. The clearest definition of a mystery to a child of God is that it is something progressively made known to him. There are different stages of our union with Christ, and these are explained in the paragraphs that follow:

 

FIRST--The first stage of this union with Christ lies in God's eternal decree of Divine election. The elect were given to Jesus Christ. A relation was established between the Father and the elect at this point. If election were according to foreseen faith, the choice would not be of persons but of graces. God chose persons, not graces. An act of faith is an act of grace. Election is not according to the foreseen death of Jesus Christ. We are nowhere told that we are elected through the blood of Jesus Christ. Blood is the cause of salvation, but it is not the cause of election. The shedding of blood by Jesus Christ is the result of God's having given us to Jesus Christ before the world began. We are not elected to be in Christ. But by election, we were given to Jesus Christ before the world began. Election is not at the point of one's faith in Christ. If it were, that would made God subservient to man.

 

The duration of Divine existence is from eternity, according to our way of understanding eternity. The Divine duration must be considered as wholly permanent and the ever present now, incapable of division into parts any more than the Divine existence of God can be divided into parts. As the present "I AM" of the Divine existence does at once fill heaven and earth, the present "now" of the Divine duration does at once comprehend all time and eternity (I Kings 8:27; Ps. 139:7; Is. 46:9,10; Acts 15:18). Therefore, we were given to Christ, and grace was given us in Jesus Christ before the world began. All subsequent relations flow from the eternal covenant of God.

 

SECOND--The second stage of our union with Christ occurred when Jesus Christ came into this world. This involves more than the incarnation. The incarnation placed Him in the position for becoming our Mediator, Surety, Advocate, Redeemer, etc. The Son of God carried all the elect in the loins of His grace, as Adam carried all the children of mankind in his loins in the fall. When the Lord Jesus Christ died and rose again, we died with Him, were raised with Him, and are seated with Him in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6).

 

THIRD--The third stage of our union with Jesus Christ occurs when the elect are born of the Spirit. This takes place in the time of love, when the Spirit of God implants the Spirit of life in the hearts of those for whom Christ died (Ezek. 16:8). Until this stage, the mystic union was hidden in the decree of the Father and in the loins of the Mediator. This stage must be distinguished from the next.

FOURTH--The fourth stage of our union with Jesus Christ begins not with the quickening by the Holy Spirit but when one becomes conscious of what Jesus Christ did for him; and then by faith, which is the fruit of Divine election, he embraces the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Saving faith is given in regeneration; but there may be some time between a person's regeneration by the Spirit, his becoming conscious of what Jesus Christ has done for him, and his exercising the faith given to him in regeneration to trust the Lord as Savior. A child possesses his mother from conception. But the consciousness of his mother's love comes gradually. Although some time passes before we come to a conscious understanding of our union with Christ, this subjective union existed from the time of regeneration. An individual can never believe on Jesus Christ without this subjective union. To say that a person is not united in any sense until he is consciously aware of the union by faith, is like saying that a baby is not united to his mother until he grows enough to become conscious of the union. At the time of embracing Jesus Christ by faith, there is a sense in which one is consciously united. But there was a subjective union that preceded that union, enabling him to believe, embrace Jesus Christ, and become conscious of it. There were unions that preceded that union--when Jesus Christ carried the elect person to the cross in the loins of His grace and when the Father gave him grace in the Son before the world began.

 

FIFTH--The fifth and final union with Christ will be in glorification. The union which began with Divine election will be consummated in glorification, when these bodies of humiliation will be fashioned like the glorified body of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian is not yet perfected; therefore, he grows in grace as he looks for the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ, when he will be complete.

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GRACE GIVEN THE ELECT BEFORE THE TIMES OF AGES

The one who has saved [sosantos, aorist active participle of sodzo, which means has saved] us, and who has called [kalesantos, aorist active participle of kaleo, which means has called] us with a holy calling [klesei, instrumental of klesis, which means call, calling, or station in life], not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of His own purpose [prothesin, accusative feminine singular of the noun prothesis, meaning God planned or prepared before time] and grace [charin, accusative feminine singular of the noun charis, which means grace, free favor, or gift] having been given [dotheisan, aorist passive participle accusative feminine singular of didomi, which means to give, grant or bestow] to us in Christ Jesus before [pro, which means before or prior to] the times of ages.--II Timothy 1:9 (translation)

 

Grace was given to the elect "in Christ Jesus before the times of ages." The translation "before the times of ages" does not do violence to the Greek text, and neither does the translation "from all eternity." The gift of grace was by the Father to the Son in eternity. The Father gave grace to the elect in Christ in His eternal purpose in eternity. The second stage of giving is the impartation of grace by the Holy Spirit in the act of regeneration. This takes place in the heart of the person who has become an entity--born of the flesh--and has been preserved by prevenient grace until the time the Holy Spirit regenerates him and gives him the gift of grace in time. We do not see the preciousness of this truth in its proper perspective unless we see grace beginning with the Father in eternity, when He gave grace to each individual He chose in Christ.

 

There is a difference between being given something "in" Christ in eternity and being blessed "through" Christ in time. God doing something for us "in" Christ refers to the eminent act between God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. The word eminent is an adjective which describes what took place within the Godhead in eternity. This is exactly what is taught in God having saved us prior to the times of ages. God purposed to give the elect grace in Jesus Christ in time (Eph. 1:3,4). God doing something for us "through" Christ is done in time. That which is actually performed and applied to the elect is through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We have redemption through His blood (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). We have peace through the blood of Christ's cross (Col. 1:20). We have access into the holiest place through Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:19).

 

The decree of Divine election took place "in" Christ in eternity (Eph. 1:3,4). Election "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit" does not refer to the decree of Divine election (I Pet. 1:2). It refers to God actually picking out the elect from among mankind and saving them by His grace. The same truth is taught by the Lord Jesus when He said, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:19). Hence, the word election is used two ways--God's decree and His actual picking out in time. God planned what He would do from the foundation of the world.

 

There is a twofold giving of grace--in eternity and in time. Grace given in eternity was by the Father. Grace given in time is by the Holy Spirit. "For by grace are ye saved [sesosmenoi, perfect passive participle of sodzo, which means having been saved] through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). The Ephesian saints were completely saved by grace in time past, resulting in a state of salvation at the time present when Paul wrote to them. Therefore, there was never a time that the regenerated person was not in a state of grace, because grace was given him in Christ eternally by the Father. Furthermore, there will never be a time that he is not in a state of grace. He is in a state of grace actually as the result of the Holy Spirit regenerating him and imparting the grace of God to him. He is kept by grace now, and he will always be in a state of grace.

 

Grace was given in intent but not actually in eternity. The gift of grace was ordered as an actual bestowment in God's eternal purpose. This can be understood in the same sense as glorification. The elected, redeemed, regenerated, and converted person is foreordained, predestinated, called, justified, and stands in the blessing of those four great truths; but he has not yet been glorified (Rom. 8:29,30). However, from God's point of view, he is already glorified. God "calleth those things which be not as though they were" (Rom. 4:17). There is no time with God. That which is future to man is a present reality to God. An understanding of the eternality of God will enable one to accept the truth; and he can say with the Psalmist, "My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them" (Ps. 139:15,16). The Psalmist was giving honor to God because he recognized His omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence.

 

A known existence and a real existence are known simultaneously to God. This truth may be illustrated with our knowledge of prophecy. There are many prophecies that are not yet fulfilled. The Christian believes them on the authority of God's word. Jesus Christ has not yet come as King of kings and Lord of lords. He is not reigning on the throne of His father David. The knowledge of the Lord is not covering the earth as the waters cover the sea. Men are not beating their instruments of warfare into instruments of peace. But we believe these prophecies and understand them, in a measure, based on the authority of Divine testimony. They are real by faith. They are future from the Christian's point of view. The patriarchs saw things afar off and called those things that were not as though they were (Heb. 11). Conclusively, there is a knowledge of future things that are not actually fulfilled. An astronomer makes certain predictions concerning an eclipse of the sun or the moon. According to his calculations, it may be six years before the eclipse occurs, but the eclipse is known to him. Hence, there is a known knowledge and an actual knowledge, but they are not simultaneous with man. But both are simultaneously known to God, because He is the ever present "I Am."

 

The giving of grace before time and in time are great truths. The time of the imparting of grace by the Holy Spirit is unknown to the individual. He is not conscious of God's grace in regeneration. The grace given in Jesus Christ before the world began is a mystery (I Cor. 2:6-10). The elect individual knows nothing about this gift of grace while in a state of depravity. At the point of time when the Holy Spirit imparts grace, the elect individual is still unaware of the grace that was given him in Jesus Christ before the times of ages. The Holy Spirit takes the things of God and reveals them to the regenerated person over a period of time.

 

The first mention of the Greek word for grace is Luke 1:28. The virgin Mary was highly favored (kecharitomene, perfect passive participle of charitoo, which means highly favored or much graced). She was not full of grace. Fullness of grace is characteristic of Jesus Christ Himself (John 1:16). Mary was much graced without being conscious of it. She was blessed for the fruit of her womb, the Lord Jesus. She gave birth to the human nature that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, assumed in the incarnation. Mary had to be informed of her gift of grace; after which, she was doubtful and needed assurance. She was confused about the significance of the grace given to her. This is true of every recipient of grace.

 

The highest sense of grace is God working in us "both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13). It is God Himself working in special ways for His own end. Grace is the freely given presence of the Holy Spirit in a man, applying Christ to him and manifesting Christ in and through him.

 

Great-heartedness is not grace. It perverts grace in its truest form, because it detracts from the righteousness of God and the cross of Jesus Christ. Many religionists believe that grace is given as a reward for a work that has been done by an individual. But if grace should accept payment, it would not be grace. Anyone who thinks he will be acceptable to God in the future because he has done certain things while here on the earth does not understand grace.

 

Grace is not an exchange for faith. Many believe that they come into possession of grace because they muster up enough human faith to embrace Jesus Christ. But grace is not a reward for faith. It produces faith by which one embraces Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in a conversion experience.

 

The saving of a sinner is a judicial action flowing from an act of grace by which the Father put to death His Son for the elect. The Greek word for grace (charis) contains the idea of kindness which bestowed on one what he does not deserve. It is used of the merciful kindness by which God regenerates the elect, turns them to Jesus Christ, and strengthens them in the faith, knowledge, and affection. It kindles them to exercise Christian virtues and fashions them into the likeness of Jesus Christ in glorification.

 

Objective salvation lies in God's eternal purpose. It is one act of God in grace toward the elect. Subjective salvation is given in time by degrees. God first saves, then sanctifies, and will glorify those He saves and sanctifies. There are three aspects to one's salvation: "Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us" (II Cor. 1:10). God has saved us from the condemnation and guilt of sin. He is presently saving us from the power of sin. He will save us from the presence of sin. Grace delivers us from sin, restores us to Divine favor, and preserves us to the heavenly kingdom. Therefore, grace is a golden thread running from eternity into time and back into eternity.

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15

 

GRACE MADE MANIFEST

But now having been made known [phanerotheisan, aorist passive participle of phaneroo, which means to reveal, make known, or appear] by the coming of our Savior Christ Jesus, on one hand who has canceled [katargesantos, aorist active participle of katargeo, which means to nullify, cancel, destroy, or abolish] death, on the other having brought to light [photisantos, aorist active participle of photidzo, which means to bring to light] life and incorruptibility [aphtharsian, accusative of aphtharsia] by means of the gospel.--II Timothy 1:10 (translation)

 

The apostle Paul moved from eternity in II Timothy 1:9 to time in II Timothy 1:10. The grace that was given the elect in God's purpose before the times of ages "now having been made known by the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ, on one hand who has canceled death, on the other having brought to light life and incorruptibility by means of the gospel."

 

There is harmony between Titus 2:11-13, Romans 16:25-27, and II Timothy 1:10. The Greek word translated "appeared" (epephane, aorist passive indicative of epiphaino) in Titus 2:11 means shone forth or come openly to view. Whereas, in Titus 2:13, the word translated "appearing" (epiphaneian, accusative of epiphaneia) means appearing, appearance, or coming and does not come from the same Greek word. Paul is the only apostle who used this word. He used it six times, five of which refer to the second advent of Jesus Christ (II Thess. 2:8; I Tim. 6:14; II Tim. 4:1,8; Titus 2:13). The sixth use, which is the same word, refers to the incarnation (II Tim. 1:10). Another inflection of the same word is used in Romans 16:26--"now is made manifest [phanerothentos, aorist passive participle of phaneroo]."

 

The incarnation, which is more than the mere act, is a mystery. The life, death, resurrection, ascension, and second advent of Jesus Christ are all included in the incarnation. There is the mystery of godliness (I Tim. 3:16), the mystery of union with Christ (Col. 1:27), the mystery of Israel (Rom. 11:25,26), the mystery of iniquity (II Thess. 2:7), etc. The mystery of the gospel, which was kept secret since the world began, does not indicate that it is incomprehensible to the saint. That which was hidden in the secret purpose of God is revealed in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Christians do not completely understand these mysteries. They will continue to be made known to us throughout eternity.

 

The hypostatic union, which is the union of the Divine and human natures in the one Person, is related to the incarnation. The negative aspect of the hypostatic union is taught. The hypostatic union was not a consubstantial union. It was not the union of one and the same nature. The union of the two natures of Christ is indissoluble. He arose from death, ascended, will come again, and will reign forever in His glorified body. The positive aspect of the hypostatic union is taught. The hypostatic union is one in which the human nature was miraculously united with Christ (Luke 1:34,35). It was miraculous to protect His human nature from original sin. Had His human nature been contaminated with original sin, He could not have died for the sins of the elect. He would have had to die for His own sin. The Spirit of God separated a section of Mary's womb and protected it from original sin. The hypostatic union was one in which the human nature was intricately united with Christ. Jesus Christ assumed a sinless human body, soul, and spirit in order to die for the sins of the elect and provide salvation for their sinful bodies, souls, and spirits. Complete redemption was provided on the cross.

 

The hypostatic union is one in which all the infirmities which Christ's human nature possessed were sinless. This union is one in which Christ's Divine and human natures each retained its own essential qualities and properties. The Divine and human natures were never confounded. Christ possessed both natures without mixture or change. He was God before He came. He was the God-Man when He came. He will never lay aside the nature He assumed when He came. He lived, died, arose, ascended, and will come again as the God-Man.

 

The hypostatic union is one in which the effects of each nature attributed to and agreed in the whole Person of Christ. The properties of the Divine nature were never imparted to the human nature, and the properties of the human nature were never imparted to the Divine nature. But there is cooperation in both. His mediatorial work is according to both natures.

 

Jesus Christ had two natures and two wills, both perfect. Christ's human nature did what was human, and His Divine nature gave approval and infinite value to it. Only the human nature could be weary, suffer, hunger, thirst, die, etc. God absolutely considered could not become weary, suffer, hunger, thirst, die, etc. "...God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them..." (II Cor. 5:19).

 

John did not mention the nativity in his gospel. The other gospel writers did. John recorded the underlying principle of all the facts. God was manifest in the flesh, and the Word was made flesh (John 1:1,14). The other gospel writers recorded the facts. John stated the Person assuming flesh--Christ the living Word. He related the nature He assumed and the assumption itself. A true human nature was united with the Divine Person. The Savior who appeared is the living embodiment of the eternal purpose of God and the love of the Father.

 

Christ Canceled Death

The Greek word for canceled (katargesantos, aorist active participle of katargeo) in II Timothy 1:10 is a favorite word used by Paul. It means to cancel, abrogate, or abolish. The word is used in the sense of rendering useless in connection with the barren fig tree (Luke 13:7). It means without effect or make void (Rom. 3:3,31), free from (Rom. 7:2,6), bring to an end (I Cor. 2:6; 13:8), and destroy (I Cor. 15:26; II Thess. 2:8). There is no contradiction between the use of the Greek word in I Corinthians 15:26, where it is translated destroyed, and in II Timothy 1:10, where it is translated abolished (canceled). The former refers to the consummation of Christ's work forever. The latter refers to the whole range--completion--of the death of Christ on the cross. Physical death has not been completely destroyed. It is the final enemy to be destroyed (I Cor. 15:26). There will then be no more death (Rev. 21:4).

 

The context of II Timothy 1:10 reveals that Jesus Christ is the living embodiment of the purpose and grace of the Father. He has also made death, which is man's curse, inoperative for the elect. Death is the antithesis of life. Sin and death are man's greatest enemies. Both are in league against man. Sin is the reason for transgression, and death is the penalty for transgression: "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Rom. 5:12).

 

The following questions with their answers should be considered:

 

1. Why should Timothy suffer hardship for the testimony of Jesus Christ? In the testimony of Christ, the entire revelation of the Godhead is made known to us. The revelation of God in Christ--who has saved, effectually called, defeated death, and brought life and incorruptibility to light through the gospel--is made known through the testimony of Christ.

 

2. Is death really dead? There is a sense in which it is not. Physical death is not yet abolished. Man's flesh is as grass that withers and the flower thereof falls away (I Pet. 1:24). Man's physical life is as a vapor that soon vanishes (James 4:14). It is appointed for men to die once (Heb. 9:27).

 

3. What makes death the object of universal apprehension and dread? The accountability one must give to God, not the act of death itself, is the object of universal apprehension and dread. All men know God's existence, and they know that they must face Him. Abolishment of death is only for those for whom Christ died. He laid down His life for the sheep, not for the goats (John 10:11,15). The elect consist of saved and lost sheep. All the lost sheep will be found and saved (John 10:16). The nonelect are goats and will never be anything else. Jesus Christ tasted death for only the elect.

 

The elect die physically, but death's sting has been removed from them. Although imprisoned, the apostle Paul did not fear death. He called death a departure (II Tim. 4:6-8) and sleep (I Thess. 4:13-18). Eternal life was in him, and he was assured of incorruptibility. Every child of God will go through the valley of the shadow of death, if the Lord tarries His coming. Paul could say that dying is gain (Phil. 1:21). It is gain because the same body of the elect person who dies will be resurrected and glorified like the glorified body of Jesus Christ. The grace of God alone can give this assurance.

 

4. What is the real enemy in question? Death itself is the real enemy. Suppose there was no revelation from God concerning death. Human reason would tell you that death is cessation of being, is universal because everything dies, and is unavoidable and irreparable. Scripture teaches death's true nature. The cause of death is sin. The true remedy for death is Jesus Christ who abolished death--made death inoperative to those who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Christ's death on the cross is the death of death for the elect. Jesus Christ made death spiritually inoperative for the elect (Eph. 2:1). He did so in His own Person on behalf of the sheep (John 10:15-18). He was crucified so that the elect might not have to pay for their own sin (Gal. 3:13).

 

Jesus Christ was victorious not only in His death but also in the abolishment of death for His people. He was resurrected out from among the dead by His own power. The spirit of one who knows Christ as Savior and Lord was expressed by Simeon when he spoke of his death as a departure, not something to be feared: "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation" (Luke 2:29,30).

 

To the child of God, there is life instead of death and not life after death. God made the first marriage of body and soul in creation. He breathed into man's body the breath of life, and man became a living soul (Gen. 2:7). Job said that although worms destroyed his body, he would in his flesh see the Lord (Job 19:26). The Christian knows that "if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven" (II Cor. 5:1,2).

 

Death is a subject shunned by most. The nonchristian wants to stick his head in the sand and ignore death. Nevertheless, death is a reality which well-informed Christians do not mind discussing. Death is appointed for all living: "For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living" (Job 30:23). Job had a personal knowledge of death--"I know." He ascribed death to God, not to man--"thou wilt bring me to death." Men ascribe death to disease, accident, etc., but Scripture ascribes it to God. Death is of Divine appointment. It is universal--"for all living." Some are stillborn. They die before they come forth from the womb. Others die in infancy, youth, middle age, or old age.

 

There are various reasons for anxiety about death. Some people are apprehensive about the stroke of death. Others fear entering a world from which there is no return. Some are doubtful about their redemptive relation to God and eternity. Others become so occupied with the thought of seeing God face to face that they forget the promises of eternal blessings that enable them to look beyond death to the eternal state.

 

There is a temporal death. The believer's influence may be dead, resulting from his disobedience to God. This is the Lord's admonition to influentially dead Christians: "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Eph. 5:14). The bride of The Song of Solomon was a sleeping Christian (Song of Sol. 5:2-8). The Christian's relationship is secure, but his fellowship is not. The bride had slept, put off the coat of separation, and washed her own feet. The Lord alone can cleanse from daily contact with sin (John 13:3-10). He withdraws His conscious presence from the temporarily dead Christian. The backsliding Christian wastes his breath praying. Confession of sin must precede his praying. There is also a positional death. It is death to sin in Christ (Rom. 6:1-11). There is an operational death. It is faith without works: "faith without works is dead" (James 2:26). There is a sexual death. It is the inability to procreate (Rom. 4:19).

 

The major subject of Hebrews 9 and 10 is death. In history, man is born, lives, and dies once physically. From a different perspective in history, Jesus Christ was born, lived, and died once physically. The nature of physical death is the same in all. It originated with Adam (Gen. 2:17; 3:19; Rom. 5:12). Adam was not immortal. Immortality is immunity from death. God alone is immune from death: "Jesus Christ...who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen" (I Tim. 6:14-16). The statement "immortality of the soul" is unscriptural. God could not create an immortal creature. He cannot create God. God alone is immutable: "...The Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning " (James 1:17).

 

The statement "conditional immortality" is hypothetical, based on the supposition that if Adam had not sinned his body would have been kept in perpetual equilibrium. Adam sinned and brought death on himself and all his posterity. Death is called man's long home (Eccl. 12:5). Man's body is the wonderful creation of God (Ps. 139:13-16). The body was first formed, and then the soul was infused into the formed body. The infusion of the soul was God's creation of man. The soul is the direct creation of God.

 

A person is made up of body, soul, and spirit (I Thess. 5:23). Each is distinct from the other (Heb. 4:12). The body comes with the sentence of death on it (Rom. 8:10). The principle of death is present, and the body is the prey of death. Death is the result of sin. As soon as the body is conceived in the womb, it is sinful (Ps. 51:5). Death may be called mortality which is in our bodies. There is a time to be born and a time to die (Eccl. 3:2). The believer has the comfort of Christ's presence in the act of dying. Jesus Christ stood for us at Calvary. He stands by us in life. He will go with us through the valley of the shadow of death. In contrast, the unbeliever does not have the presence and comfort of Christ through death. The act of dying is instantaneous, but death may be produced by a variety of causes. Disease, accidents, and self-inflicted wounds are considered causes of death, but the act itself is in the hands of God. God gives life, and He takes it. The instruments of death are under God's control.

Man is passive in both life and death. God has determined the times appointed. In Him we live, move, and have our being (Acts 17:25,26,28). As man does not perceive the change wrought on his soul in regeneration, he does not perceive the change wrought in his dying. By being quickened by the Spirit, the elected sinner is regenerated, and by death he is admitted into the eternal state.

 

There are great lessons to be learned about death. Every person should consider his latter end (Deut. 32:29). His attitude should be that of the Psalmist, "LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am" (Ps. 39:4). The Christian views death the same way he sees his sin. Both were borne by Jesus Christ at Calvary. He who lives and believes in Jesus Christ shall never die (John 11:26). He has life instead of death.

 

The following things enable persons who have life instead of death to have no fear of death: (1) Since the guilt and condemnation of sin is removed from our minds by grace, we should have no fear of death and judgment. (2) We know by the word of God that our sins have been forgiven and death cannot harm us. (3) As the Old Testament saints died in faith desiring a better country, so do New Testament saints (Heb. 11:13-16). (4) Death can do no more harm to the children of God than it did to Jesus Christ. (5) Believers shall die in union with Christ, interested in His life and death. This is the reason the last words of Christ are important to Christians. The last words of David and Paul reveal that they were anticipating being present with the Lord (II Sam. 23:1-4; II Tim. 4:6-8). (6) Christ's perfect love to the believer, not the believer's love to Christ, is comforting in death. The believer's attention is directed to Christ and not to himself. (7) Anyone who fears the act of death is looking away from Christ to himself.

 

The death of Christ was in the stead of the death of many. (1) Christ triumphed over death for the elect. (2) There are several remarkable sayings of Christ which agree that the believer's death is not death. The believer shall never see the second death (John 5:24; 8:51; 11:25,26). (3) How do believers not die when we see their bodies buried? Their bodies have the seed of incorruptibility in them. They never die, no matter how they seem to die. (4) Believers pass through only the shadow of death (Ps. 23:4). They will never encounter death properly so-called, because they are already possessed of life. (5) The actual abolition of death has not yet occurred (I Cor. 15:26). But its sting has been removed for the believer (I Cor. 15:51-58). (6) Death has ceased to be penal for the believer. Christ's death on his behalf assures him that death is swallowed up by life (II Cor. 5:4). (7) Christ is the Prince of life to the Christian; therefore, he shall not see death in its full consequences.

Since Divine justice has been satisfied, why do believers undergo physical death? The physical death of the Christian is not punishment for the penalty of sin. That condemnation was borne by Jesus Christ on the cross (Heb. 2:9). Believers cannot suffer for what has already been punished. They have passed through death into life (I Cor. 15; Eph. 2:1-10; Heb. 2:14).

 

Since Divine justice has been satisfied, why do the consequences of sin remain? This may be illustrated with a person imprisoned for a crime he has committed. Although someone mediates for him and he is freed, he bears the scar of his offense. Likewise, Christians suffer many things in the flesh to remind us of what we were by nature and what we are by grace. These things must be endured throughout our earthly pilgrimage as we await the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23). Temporal or physical death has no eternal wrath in it. However, it can result from paternal discipline for disobedience (I Cor. 11:30; I John 5:16). Moses committed this sin leading to death.

 

There are contrasts between life and death: (1) Physical birth is the introduction of a depraved person into the world. Death is the removal of the depraved nature, as the believer is introduced into the world to come. (2) Physical birth brings one into the world of sin. Death takes the believer from the world of sin. (3) Physical birth is into the world of toil and labor. Death takes the believer into the world of rest. (4) Physical birth brings one into the world of sorrow. Death takes him into the world of endless joy. (5) Physical birth brings one into the world of death. Death takes the believer into the world of endless life. (6) Physical birth brings one into the world of imperfection. Death takes the believer into the world of absolute perfection. (7) Spiritual birth brings one into a small company of brothers and sisters in Christ. Death takes him into the world of glory with a company of all his brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Christ's Continuing Life

Christ's death was no interruption of His continuing life. He was put to death in the flesh but quickened by the Spirit (I Pet. 3:18). The Lord's statement "because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19) was made before His death. Hence, He declared that His death on the cross would not interrupt His continuing life. He had already predicted His death when He said, "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). "I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:15). "...I have power to lay it down..." (John 10:18). He also spoke of His death when He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:24). It was necessary for Jesus Christ to come into the world, to go to the cross of Calvary to die, and to be raised out from among the dead before there could be any life for the elect. When Jesus Christ said, "Because I live, ye shall live also," He was speaking of resurrection life. This is in view of His death and resurrection.

 

The Lord's affirmation "because I live" of John 14:19 must be viewed as the essence of God, or life as resurrection life. As a Divine Person, the Lord Jesus possesses independent, infinite, immutable, and eternal life. Therefore, in Him is life, and there will ever be life in Him (John 1:4). All life proceeds from this independent fountain of life, Jesus Christ Himself. Through this life, all life is sustained. By this life, life shall be perfected.

 

None beyond the circle of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can participate in the independent, infinite, immutable, and eternal life of John 1:4. Creatures do not share it. The Lord Jesus lived the life of a Man while here on earth. As the God-Man, Christ was commissioned to give His life for the sheep. His death in the flesh was the atonement for the sins of His people (John 10). The procuring cause of the elect being quickened is by the Spirit. Not until Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection out from among the dead could His life be displayed to the elect.

 

"Because I live" is resurrection life, a life better than any with which man had ever been acquainted. It is a life of liberty. It spoke of Christ's finished work (John 17). Resurrection life is a life of favor with the Father. It is a life of glory. The life of humiliation and shame is now over. Jesus Christ has been given a name that is above every name (Phil. 2:9,10). The life of which Christ claims proprietorship is a life subsequent to death and resurrection. There is no time with the Son of God; therefore, He spoke as though it were already accomplished. He "calleth those things which be not as though they were" (Rom. 4:17).

 

Jesus Christ lives. He was dead, but He is alive forevermore (Rev. 1:18). His past death points to resurrection life. The death of Jesus Christ is the fountain of life for the people of God. "I am he that liveth" is a title belonging exclusively to God. "I am alive forevermore" means Christ's life shall experience no interruption or cessation. His having the keys of death and hell manifests His supremacy over hell and death. He has the authority of death.

 

Life is guaranteed for the people of God in John 14:19 in the Lord's statement, "ye shall live also." The redeemed shall reign in life with Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:17; 6:3-11; Gal. 2:19,20; Eph. 2:5,6; Col. 3:1-4). This life is incomplete now, but it is destined to be perfected at the resurrection (I John 3:2).

 

The word because (hoti) in John 14:19 is the connecting link between the life of Christ and the life of the believer: "because I live, ye shall live also." (1) His life proves that all has been accomplished to secure life for the elect of God. (2) His life proves that He possesses all that is necessary to bestow life on the elect. (3) His life proves that He supports the life He bestows.

 

The unending life of Jesus Christ is great comfort and assurance for the people of God. "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Rom. 5:10). Objective reconciliation by Christ's death precedes subjective experience of that reconciliation which is salvation by Christ's life. A person is not actually reconciled to the Father when he believes. As one of God's elect, he was reconciled to the Father when Jesus Christ died. Christ's death removed alienation objectively before it removed alienation subjectively. The elect's alienation from God was removed when Christ died. It is removed subjectively when he is regenerated.

 

Both the death and life aspects of salvation must be considered in Romans 5:10--(1) Christ died to put away sins. This is the means of reconciliation. (2) In Christ's life, the elect are saved to be uttermost. Christ's life is the means of their present preservation. They were not experientially saved when they were reconciled by the death of Christ. Reconciliation points to God. Salvation points to the elect. The first is the work of redemption. The second is the application thereof. The hindrance on God's side was removed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that the straying elect might return (Is. 53:6). Salvation on the side of the elect is not accomplished until he is quickened by the Spirit of God. This work of salvation which begins in regeneration is carried on throughout the Christian life on earth and will not be perfected until the child of God stands face to face with the Son of God.

 

"Shall be saved by his life" of Romans 5:10 refers to Christ's mediatorial life. The Father is the Head of the mediatorial economy, and He gave Christ authority to bestow, sustain, and perfect life. Had Jesus Christ not risen out from among the dead, our hopes would have perished with Him in the grave. But "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (I Pet. 1:3).

 

Paul argues in Romans 5:10 from what Christ has done to what He shall do: "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Rom. 5:10). "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things" (Rom. 8:32). It is wonderful that God provided salvation for the elect, but it would not be wonderful if He failed to apply that salvation. It is wonderful that God has given us precious promises, but it would not be wonderful if He did not fulfill them. It is wonderful that Christ began a good work in us, but it would not be wonderful if He failed to complete what He began. Jesus Christ did not die in vain. He is the support of our salvation.

 

The continuous giving of life of John 10:28 is in the present and not the past tense in the Greek. There is no contradiction between this statement and II Timothy 1:9. The Lord did not say, "I gave," or "I will give," but "I give" (didomi, present active indicative, which means I am giving). Eternal life which was planned, purchased, and applied is continuously given. It is like the bud that is growing and expanding and will blossom into a perfect flower in the kingdom. Furthermore, the possessed righteousness grows and develops as the Christian grows and develops. This righteousness is the imputed and imparted righteousness which was wrought by Jesus Christ on the cross. It is not the righteous character of God. Christians possess the principle of life, and it grows and develops (I John 3:9). Every breath a man takes is by the breath of life that God gives presently (Acts 17:28). As men live, move, and exist in God physically, Christians live, move, and exist in Him spiritually. He who began the good work in them will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6). He who planted the principle of life will continue giving that life. There is an initial giving and a continual giving. There is an initial believing and a continual believing by the elect. A person believes when he embraces Jesus Christ after his regeneration (I John 5:1). Then, he continually believes. There is an initial coming to Jesus Christ and a continuous coming to Him (Matt. 11:28; I Pet. 2:4). Eternal life given by Jesus Christ is uninterrupted life. It is life without cancellation. This uninterrupted life is the well of John 4 springing up to eternal life. Jesus Christ Himself is the living fountain.

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16

 

THE METHOD OF BRINGING LIFE
AND INCORRUPTION TO LIGHT

But now having been made known [phanerotheisan, aorist passive participle of phaneroo, which means to reveal, make known, or appear] by the coming of our Savior Christ Jesus, on one hand who has canceled [katargesantos, aorist active participle of katargeo, which means to nullify, cancel, destroy, or abolish] death, on the other having brought to light [photisantos, aorist active participle of photidzo, which means to bring to light] life and incorruptibility [aphtharsian, accusative of aphtharsia] by means of the gospel.--II Timothy 1:10 (translation)

 

The result of Christ's incarnation is that He has brought life and incorruption to light by means of the gospel. Life has reference to the soul, and incorruption refers to the body. The gospel reveals both. Bringing anything to light is for the purpose of enlightening, illustrating, or clearing up something. Hence, Jesus Christ has illustrated life and incorruption by the gospel. This doctrine had never before been demonstrated or illustrated. It existed in promise but had never been practically exhibited. Jesus Christ brought to light the purpose and promise. He Himself in His glorified resurrected body is the object of hope for those who have spiritual life. True hope is in the coming again of Jesus Christ, the One who has been revealed to the heart of man in regeneration and shall appear the second time to consummate man's salvation by the redemption of the body (Rom. 8:18-23; 9:28).

 

Life Brought To Light By The Gospel

The gospel does not produce life, but it brings existing life to light. A person is not conceived--regenerated--by the gospel. But the conception by the Spirit of God is brought to light by means of the gospel. The word of the gospel is not the means of the new birth. A creative command of God and the work of the gospel in bringing forth that which has already been brought forth by the word of command are distinct. God's statement "Let there be light: and there was light" was a command (Gen. 1:3). The written revelation of God's mind was not the means of bringing light into existence. God needed no instrumental means. The word of command must be distinguished from the gospel preached by God-ordained ministers. God spoke a word of command to the polluted infant in Ezekiel 16, and the infant lived: "When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, Live! I said to you while you were in your blood, Live!" (Ezek. 16:6 NASB). The command to live does not imply the word of the gospel. This is an illustration of regeneration. It does not illustrate life being brought to light by the word of God that is preached.

 

Does regeneration precede, accompany, or follow the preaching of the gospel? Contrary to religious teachings that baptism is essential to salvation, that the will of man cooperates with the grace of God, and that the gospel is the means God uses in regeneration, the new birth is by the Holy Spirit without the use of means. "Baptismal regeneration" is offensive to the spiritual mind because it places regeneration in the hands of the preacher, not in the hands of God. The "free will of man" is also offensive to the spiritual mind. It makes the will of man the primary factor in man's salvation. "Gospel regeneration" is as offensive to the spiritual mind as "baptismal regeneration" and "the free will of man." It demands the preaching of the gospel; therefore, it is dependent on the preacher. The Bible teaches Spirit regeneration, which gives the ability to receive the gospel message. The sinner is passive in regeneration, but he is active in conversion. There is no repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ until a person has been turned by the Spirit of God in regeneration: "...turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth" (Jer. 31:18,19). After the sinner has been turned by God, he can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, repent and believe. Conviction of sin always follows regeneration.

 

One must consider what is meant by the term "hearing the gospel." Does the hearing refer to the ear that has been sensitized by the Spirit of God in regeneration, or does it refer simply to the organ called the ear? Jesus Christ commanded the multitude to "hear and understand" (Matt. 15:10), and He commanded those in the assemblies of Revelation who had an ear to hear to hear what the Spirit said to them (Rev. 2:7,11,17,29). But according to Proverbs 20:12, the hearing ear and the seeing eye are both of God. Before any man can hear or embrace the gospel of Christ in a conversion experience, he must first have been given a hearing ear. He himself cannot acquire it, and no man can give it to him. Only the sovereign Spirit can give man a hearing ear. He does so in regeneration.

 

The Bible distinguishes the influence of the Holy Spirit from the word of God and declares that such influence is necessary for the proper reception of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God does not give a spiritual message and a human key to unlock the spiritual meaning of that message. A spiritual key is necessary to unlock the spiritual mystery in order to understand the mysteries of God. The key that unlocks it is the Holy Spirit in regeneration. This is portrayed in Lydia: "And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard [ekouen, imperfect active indicative of akouo, which means was hearing--a single act] us: whose heart the Lord opened [dienoixen, aorist active indicative of dianoigo, which means opened--a single act], that she attended [prosechein, present active infinitive of prosecho, which means to pay close attention to, hold on to, or give oneself to--result] unto the things which were spoken of Paul" (Acts 16:14). With the organ of her ear, Lydia heard Paul speak words. When the Lord opened her heart, she gave attention to and understood what Paul said. Prior to the Lord's opening her heart, she did not understand. She only heard words. Lydia had nothing to do with the Lord's work in her heart.

 

The unregenerated have no inclination to receive the spiritual message of the gospel of Jesus Christ: "...light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). There is no disposition in darkness for receiving light. An unregenerated person can receive the historical facts of Christ's incarnation, death, resurrection, and coming again; but that is no indication that he has embraced the glorious gospel and has had a spiritual experience in true conversion. He has no disposition of heart to receive the spiritual nature of that message apart from regeneration. Accepting the mere historical facts alone will not suffice any more than it did for the Jews who saw Jesus Christ perform miracles and believed on Him. But Christ would not commit Himself to them.

 

A blind person has no disposition to receive light. A deaf person has no ability to hear. A dead person has no power to quicken himself. Moreover, the unregenerate person has no willingness to receive the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ: "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Cor. 2:14). A spiritual mind, which is the result of regeneration, is necessary in order to understand the spiritual message of God.

 

The gospel describes the message that brings life forth to light. The gospel is good news, not that which is new. It is as ancient as God Himself, because He is its Creator. As to its nature, the gospel is not good advice, a message satisfactory to the depraved mind, or relative to modern man. The message is glad tidings to those in whose hearts God has worked grace. The gospel deals with certain objective facts, such as Christ's virgin birth, sinless life, death on the cross, resurrection, ascension, and intercession. Only when these facts are within a redemptive framework can we rejoice. Without these facts, there is no more than mysticism. Without the explanation of these facts, there is no more than impotent history. But the explanation of them causes joy to the heart that has been redeemed by grace. Therefore, the effect of the good news is to bring a cheerful countenance to the one born of the Spirit of God. The radiation of joy from within cannot be eliminated by circumstances (I Cor. 10:13). The purpose of the gospel is to bring life to light. It gives joy and contentment. The glory of God is made manifest in the Christian's countenance (II Cor. 4:6).

 

The gospel was preached in the Old Testament: "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound" (Is. 61:1). The Hebrew word for "good tidings" (basar) has the same meaning as the gospel in the New Testament. This word is also translated flesh. It first appears in the record of the woman's being taken from man's side and his flesh (basar) was closed up (Gen. 2:21). This portrays Jesus Christ on the cross, which is the foundation of the good news proclaimed by Christ and the apostles. The second and third references where the word basar is used give hope for the flesh of man (Gen. 2:23,24). But in Genesis 6:12, the flesh takes on a different meaning. Here, it is corruption or wickedness. This was after Adam's fall. Flesh refers to the old sinful nature for which there is no hope. When a person is born again, his flesh is compared with the old nature, which must be put off and reckoned as dead. Hence, flesh does refer to the old nature which is bad and will never be changed, but it also refers to the human body for which there is hope. The two things brought to light by the gospel are life and incorruptibility. The Old Testament saints had this hope: "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God" (Job 19:25,26).

 

The truth of the gospel brings to light only that which is kindred to it. Since truth is holy, it can fraternize with only that which is kindred with its own nature. The gospel "is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..." (Rom. 1:16). It invades man's life as a call to belief and conversion for love and obedience.

 

The holy God is the source of the gospel. Holy men of old are the channels of the gospel. The holy Christ is the message of the gospel. Practical holiness in the lives of the recipients of grace is the purpose of the gospel. The following are things that the gospel is called: (1) The gospel is called the "gospel of God" (Rom. 1:1). This denotes its source. The gospel is God's forethought, not His afterthought. It was purposed in God's eternal decree before the foundation of the world. (2) The gospel is called "the gospel of Christ" (II Cor. 10:14). He is the subject. There is no gospel without the discussion of both the Person and Work of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 2:1-5). (3) The gospel is called the "gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). (4) The gospel is called the "gospel of your salvation" (Eph. 1:13). (5) The gospel is called the "gospel of peace" (Eph. 6:15). This reveals the protection and equipment the child of God has in his warfare. (6) The gospel is called the "gospel of the kingdom" (Matt. 4:23). This does not mean that there is another gospel to be proclaimed at the end time. It only denotes its perfection. (7) Paul referred to the gospel as "my gospel" (II Tim. 2:8). It was his because it had been committed to him to proclaim. The same is true of every person saved by grace. (8) The gospel is called the "everlasting gospel" (Rev. 14:6). This denotes its perpetuity.

 

Why preach the gospel if men are dead and cannot be regenerated by hearing it? God commanded the proclamation of truth. It is a means of conversion. Conviction of the conscience and conviction of the will differ. Truth can bring conviction to the conscience but not to the will before regeneration. The design of the gospel is to save but not to regenerate. It is neither the instrument nor the agent in regeneration. The gospel is a proclamation. A proclamation cannot be an agent. Regeneration is performed by a Person--the Holy Spirit. No one outside the Godhead can create. Hence, the gospel cannot be used by men to create. God's eternal purpose is not dependent on men to effect a creative work. Regeneration is the creative act of the Holy Spirit to bring into existence that which did not formerly exist.

The gospel makes disciples, but it does not make children of God. The disciples were commissioned to make disciples, but they were not commissioned to make children of God (Matt. 28:19,20). There is a vast difference between making followers and bringing children of God into existence. I Corinthians 1:18 states that the gospel is the power of God to those who are being saved (sodzomenois, present passive participle of sodzo). Since the gospel effectively reaches only the called, the saving effected by it is not the saving of II Timothy 1:9. There is no way to maneuver the gospel into such a position that it saves a person before he is "saved"--regenerated--and called with a holy calling. Regeneration precedes the effectual call.

 

If the gospel were God's appointed means of regeneration, both man and the gospel would be instruments used in Divine quickening. God would be dependent on man to proclaim the gospel before He could regenerate. But a noncreative means--man--is not associated with God in a creative act.

 

The channels of the gospel were men of old (II Pet. 1:19-21). They were men on whom God breathed. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were each inspired to write their Gospels. The same is true of the prophets and the other apostles who recorded the word of God. The word inspiration (theopneustos) of II Timothy 3:16 comes from a compound Greek word which means "God-breathed." It has to do with the writings of Scripture, rather than the men themselves. When we think of the books written, we do not think of the men who wrote them but the Holy Spirit who inspired them to write. It is not simply that their minds were elevated or their spirits sublimated, but their tongues were regulated by God's Spirit.

 

Divine origin of the word is a necessity. Man's depravity requires that its origin be Divine. God who is above time sees through time. He controls all, even the men He chose to give the Scriptures. He has ordered and explained His purpose in Scripture. The Lord of history can explain it because He is above history. The Bible does not merely contain the word of God. The original manuscript is the word of God. Hence, channels can be reduced to "the channel." It was written by the Old Testament prophets and the apostles, but the Holy Spirit regulated all of them. He is the channel of Scripture.

 

The message of the gospel is personified in Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:3,4). The holy Christ is the embodiment of Scripture. In I Corinthians 2:1-5, Paul preached the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. "Jesus Christ" refers to His Person, and "Him crucified" refers to His work. Paul proclaimed the testimony of God (I Cor. 2:1) that the Corinthians' faith might stand in the power of God (I Cor. 2:5). Therefore, the testimony of God is the power and wisdom of God. The Spirit searches the deep things of God (I Cor. 2:10). One can never fathom the depths of the gospel.

The gospel is personalized in its recipients (Rom. 1:5-7). The purpose of the gospel is to effect practical holiness in those regenerated by bringing life to light by the gospel. The gospel was never designed as an instrument of regeneration. When the gospel is embraced, it brings life to light in a conversion experience. The Holy Spirit alone gives life. That life given in regeneration enables the individual to embrace the gospel when he hears it. A person is not regenerated by repentance and faith. These are fruits of the principle of life that was imparted in regeneration. But the person with the principle of life will respond to the gospel.

 

All who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God and have embraced Jesus Christ by faith know what it is to experience conversion. Before regeneration, the gospel was foolishness to them; but after regeneration, it becomes the power of God to experience salvation (I Cor. 1:18). Truth is spiritually understood in conversion. It is not foolishness to a spiritual mind.

 

The new birth and conversion are not synonymous. The Greek word for convert (epistrepho) means to turn around, turn toward, bring back, or convert. It never implies the impartation of life; therefore it cannot be equated with quickening. The Lord saves some through preaching, but they are those who have already been quickened. The gospel must be proclaimed and continually repeated for the salvation of regenerated persons (I Cor. 1:18-20). The apostle Paul was used of the Lord to convert many whom the Holy Spirit had regenerated (Acts 26:16-20). A brother may convert another brother who has erred from the truth (James 5:19,20). He turns him back in the right direction and saves him from physical, not spiritual, death.

 

The sufficient cause of life being brought forth to light is the will of the sovereign God. God the Father willed the death of Jesus Christ, and He willed the salvation of individuals He gave to Christ in the covenant of redemption. We have been created anew by the grace of the sovereign God (Eph. 2:4-10). The new birth is of God (John 1:12,13). Regeneration is of God who shows mercy. Regeneration is not dependent on two wills. However, conversion is dependent on two wills--the will of God plus the will of the recipient of grace, who was made willing in the day of God's power (Ps. 110:3; Phil. 2:12,13). Man's will is subservient to God's will only by grace. God's will determines not only the conception but also the time for bringing forth that principle of life to light by means of the gospel. James discussed the natural act of bringing forth to light already existent life with the word of truth: "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures" (James 1:18).

 

After nine months of pregnancy, a mother gives birth to a child; but that child's life existed before it came forth from the darkness of the womb to the light of day. Likewise, the principle of life given us by the Holy Spirit in regeneration in the darkness of our subconsciousness is brought to light by means of the gospel to our consciousness.

 

The purpose for bringing forth life by means of the gospel is that we might be a kind of firstfruits of God's creatures. The word of truth has an active force on the will that has been made willing by the grace of God (I Thess. 1:5-7). The word of God effectually works in the regenerated (I Thess. 2:13).

 

Without subjective life, it is impossible for one to believe the objective message given of Jesus Christ in a conversion experience. Life in the objective sense is life in the judicial sense (John 3:14-16; 5:24; Acts 16:31; Gal. 3:26). This describes the repentant sinner, and there is no repentance apart from subjective life. This is the repentant sinner embracing the objective message of Christ's redemptive work through the gospel. In the objective aspect of life, the subjective spirit embraces the objective fact of Christ's incarnation (I John 4:1-4), the historical record of Christ (I John 5:9-13), the finished work of Christ on the cross (John 3:14-16), the resurrection of Christ out from among the dead (John 20:1-10; I Cor. 15), and His glorious coming again (Acts 1:9-11).

 

Life must be wrought in the sinner before he can embrace life wrought for him on the cross. The distinction between subjective and objective life was made by the Son of God Himself (John 3:8-16). That which is born of the Spirit is life in the subjective sense. Life through faith in Jesus Christ is life in the objective sense. This distinction is in harmony with man's depravity, the effectual call, and God's absolute sovereignty. It is true in the experience of every recipient of grace. The Biblical order is given in I Peter 1:2--(1) The chosen ones are elected according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. (2) God's choice takes effect through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. This is to be considered subjectively. (3) Election by the Father and positional sanctification by the Spirit are to obedience by the recipients of what the Father has done.

 

Incorruption Brought To Light By The Gospel

Jesus Christ is not only the great destroyer but He is also the great illuminator. He has destroyed death by the means of death. He illuminates by the Spirit of regeneration. The Spirit of regeneration within an individual brings to his attention by the gospel what he is in Christ positionally and what he will be when he stands in Christ's glorious presence. Hence, the two things emphasized in II Timothy 1:9 and 10 are the life the Christian has presently and the consummation of that life. The latter is indicated by the use of the term "incorruptibility." Incorruption is brought to light by the gospel of our Savior.

 

There are various opinions concerning immortality. Annihilationists believe that immortality and eternal life speak of the same thing. They ask, If immortality is the natural attribute of every son of Adam from the moment he breathes, why does he seek for that which he already possesses (Rom. 2:7)? They believe it is a thing to be regarded as a reward. Their opinion may be called "conditional immortality." Some evangelicals say immortality is a physical term, and its opposite is mortality. Thus, they say the word immortality, as referring to the endless existence of the soul, must be questioned. Other evangelicals contend that immortality means immunity from death. Therefore, they conclude that Adam did not possess immortality, because he was warned of death. Most evangelicals agree that the nonmaterial being of man continues after death. When the body dies, the soul lives on.

 

The word "immortality" does not have the same meaning as in secular philosophy or in modern speech. While some suggest that the word should never be used in the Biblical sense, others suggest it is all right to use the term, provided one keeps in mind the difference in Biblical usage. A consideration of the Greek words to describe immortality will be beneficial to the student of Scripture.

 

The Greek noun aphtharsia is incorrectly translated "immortality" in II Timothy 1:10 and Romans 2:7. It is inaccurately translated "sincerity" in Ephesians 6:24. This Greek word means incorruption or perpetuity (Rom. 2:7; I Cor. 15:42,50,53,54; Eph. 6:24; II Tim. 1:10). "Incorruption" is associated with glory and honor and is an incentive to moral excellence in Romans 2:7. In Ephesians 6:24, it speaks of the "uncorruptness" of the Christian's love for Christ. The word aphtharsia is correctly translated "incorruption" with reference to the resurrection of the body in I Corinthians 15:42, 50, 53, and 54. In Titus 2:7, aphthoria is translated "uncorruptness" in reference to Paul's exhortation to Titus to be a pattern in doctrine and good works.

 

The adjective form of the word is aphthartos, which means incorruptible, not liable to corruption or decay, or imperishable (Rom. 1:23; I Cor. 9:25; 15:52; I Pet. 1:4,23; 3:4). In Romans 1:23, it refers to depraved men exchanging the incorruptible God for an image like corruptible men. An incorruptible crown will be awarded every faithful child of God at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 9:25). The body of the Christian will be raised incorruptible (I Cor. 15:52). The inheritance of the child of God is incorruptible (I Pet. 1:4). The hidden man of the heart is incorruptible (I Pet. 3:4). The word is also translated immortal, one of the three adjectives used in I Timothy 1:17 to describe the nature of God: "Now unto the King eternal, immortal [aphthartos], invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen." The word aphthartos which is translated immortal in this verse does not signify deathlessness. This is also true of the noun aphtharsia--incorruption, translated immortality in Romans 2:7 and II Timothy 1:10. The Greek noun for deathlessness, athanasia, is the negative of the word death, thanatos, translated incorruption in reference to the resurrected glorified body of the believer in I Corinthians 15:53 and 54. It is used to speak of the nature of God in I Timothy 6:16. The word expresses more than deathlessness. It suggests the quality of life enjoyed.

 

God alone has immortality: "Who [God] only hath immortality [athanasia], dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen" (I Tim. 6:16). God alone has underived immortality intrinsically in Himself. God is life, and His life is underived. God is the first cause. Although He communicates never ending existence to angels and men, God alone has endless existence as His essential property: "For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself" (John 5:26). The verb translated "given" (edoken, aorist active indicative of didomi) means appoint. The life referred to is that independent, immutable life of Jesus Christ. The Father is not the source of Deity, and the Son did not derive His Deity from the Father. To assert that the Son derived His Deity from the Father is a denial of the eternality of Christ. Either a derived, independent existence or a communicative, original power is an absurdity. Some interpret John 5:26 as denying the eternality of Jesus Christ. They argue that since the Father gives life to the Son, the Son did not have it; therefore, He is not eternal. However, this verse does not refer to life itself but to the manner of having and holding life or communicating life in a mediatorial capacity. The Father as Head of the mediatorial economy appointed the Son to hold and exercise the independent power of conferring life. It is the characteristic property of which both Father and Son are equally possessed. This argues neither inequality nor inferiority in the Son. It signifies that the Son holds and communicates life independently and equally with the Father. (See John 10:28.) Jesus Christ is the spring of life.

 

Death must never be viewed as cessation of existence in a physical sense, but it was separation from God when Adam fell in the garden of Eden. On the other hand, life of both the material and immaterial parts of man cannot be separated in either eternity or time. The immaterial does not exist apart from the material in either eternity or time, because man without a body is something less than a person. Therefore, immortality as it relates to man refers to the corruptible body putting on incorruption: "FOR we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (II Cor. 5:1).

 

Incorruptibleness is ascribed to the body of man exempt from decay after its resurrection: "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption [aphtharsia]" (I Cor. 15:42). Incorruption is existence without decay. Human existence in this world is not incorruptible. It is subject to decay. But the gospel has brought the truth that the body shall exist without sin. By the gospel, the Lord has shown us that the body shall be united with the spirit and soul so that the complete man shall appear in the presence of the Lord.

 

Life and immortality (incorruption) do not speak of exactly the same thing. There are some instances in Scripture where they may appear on the surface to be closely related, but that is not true in II Timothy 1:10. There are such passages as Matthew 10:28 where our Lord said a person can kill the body but he cannot kill the soul. This teaches that the soul has everlasting existence. When one becomes a Christian, he passes from death into eternal life (John 5:24). Eternal life means that it will never cease. Therefore, there is deathlessness as far as one's relationship with God is concerned. But strictly speaking, incorruptibility refers to the body of saints who die.

 

Man was made for incorruption. All the Old Testament saints longed for it, but we read over and over again that each was born and died, except Enoch and Elijah who did not see death. Adam was warned of death for eating the forbidden fruit. He ate; he died spiritually; he later died physically. Death as a physical fact is inevitable and universal. History is a succession of generations. Before Christ appeared, life and incorruption were concealed in darkness. Before Christ, incorruption was a conjecture or a vague hope. By His life, Jesus Christ has made it a certainty.

 

Natural man is alive to the world, but he is dead to God. Nothing can remove the elements of destruction but the removal of sin. The believer is not subject to spiritual death, but he is subject to physical death. He does not yet possess incorruptibility. Incorruptibility will be experienced when the believer passes from time into eternity. The unbeliever will exist spiritually and physically eternally separated from God. This is the second death (Rev. 20:14).

 

Death is existence out of harmony with God. By Adam's one act of transgression, he fell; and all mankind fell in him (Rom. 5:12). Death to Adam and to his descendants means separation from God. The Christian is not subject to spiritual death, but he is subject to physical death. He has passed out of spiritual death into spiritual life. Hence, death cannot mean cessation of existence. The fall did not kill the bodies of Adam and Eve, but they became spiritually dead. They were separated from God by sin; therefore, they had no fellowship with Him. Man may kill the body, but he cannot kill the soul because the soul is deathless (Matt. 10:28).

 

The term incorruptibility is used when speaking of the never ending life of the wicked in hell. Our sense of justice leads us to believe that God's moral administration will vindicate in the life which is to come (Luke 16:19-31). There will be degrees of punishment in hell as there will be degrees of rewards in heaven. The soul is capable of dying spiritually, but it is not capable of ceasing to exist. The soul will live forever in either a saved or a lost state.

 

Incorruptibility in the sense of never ending existence is ascribed to all spirits, including the soul of man, Satan, and the fallen angels, none of whom lost his existence through his fall. The character of each has changed, but his being remains the same. Hence, man's character was changed, but he did not lose his spirit in the fall. His body became subject to death, but his soul does not share its dissolution (Dan. 12:2; Luke 16:19-31; Acts 24:15).

 

Incorruption is used to designate the state of man in grace (John 5:24; 10:28). This is incorruption in a spiritual sense. In this state, man is not assured that he will escape physical death. Man in this state has incorruptibility in a mortal body subject to mortal woes. "Perish" and "life" stand in contrast to each other. They represent two ultimate extremes of human destiny. The Greek word for immortality is not used in John 5:24 or John 10:28. The word aionios, which means eternal, unending, or everlasting, is used. Eternal life is the imparted principle of life to the person who has been regenerated by the Spirit of God. It is a present possession, but it has a future consummation--"hope of eternal life" (Titus 1:2). "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal" (John 12:25). This means that people who have the living hope of eternal life (Titus 1:2; I Pet. 1:3) will easily digest any temporal loss, especially when their hope cannot be attained without that loss. Preservation "unto eternal life" is sufficient to persuade a Christian when he is called to it to despise his life in this world in order to live for God. Verses like John 12:25 and Titus 1:2 do not contradict other passages which state that we presently have eternal life (John 10; I John 5). "And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life" (I John 2:25).

 

There will be a glorious consummation and full realization of life in the future. In this sense, eternal life includes incorruption of the body. The body will be redeemed, because Christ will not lose part of His possession. Man is incomplete without his body in either time or eternity. Strictly speaking, mortality refers to the body; however, life and incorruption are not two words for the same thing. Sometimes they go together. For example, "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40). This is what Paul had in mind when he said, "The one who has saved us, and who has called us with a holy calling, not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of his own purpose and grace, having been given to us in Christ Jesus before the times of ages, But now having been made known by the coming of our Savior Christ Jesus, on one hand who has canceled death, on the other, having brought to light life and incorruptibility by means of the gospel" (II Tim. 1:9,10--translation). A person could know nothing about the consummation of this life apart from the gospel.

 

As stated previously, the expression "immortality of the soul" is unscriptural. Immortality cannot be applied to the soul of man. This is not to say that the soul is subject to death. Mortality and incorruption are physical terms. Jesus Christ is the one exception to the universal program in which either incorruption or immortality is attainable. Although He died, Christ did not see corruption. His present status is that of incorruption (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:27), and immortality is His inherently. Christ has entered His transformed incorruptible body. Believers await their departure from time into eternity for their glorified incorruptible bodies. This fact has no bearing on the present redemption of the elect.

 

Never ending existence is ascribed to all spirits. The soul of man has a never ending existence. Satan and the fallen angels have not lost their existence by their fall. Their characters have been changed, but their being remains the same. Sin has brought a similar change in man. The word "soul" alone does not imply immortality. If it did, animals would be immortal, because they, as well as man, have a soul. Man's spirit distinguishes him from the animal kingdom. As all flesh is not the same, all souls are not the same (I Cor. 15:37-39). There is the soul of man, and there is the soul of animals. Angels are designated spirits, but men are designated souls. The angels are pure spiritual beings. But men are lower than the angels and not pure spiritual beings. Man is a tripartite being with spirit, soul, and body (I Thess. 5:23). Although mortality and incorruption refer to the body, that does not indicate that the soul will cease to exist.

 

Man's soul is capable of spiritual death, but it is not capable of ceasing to exist. The soul will live forever in either a saved or a lost state. The following things prove the never ending existence of the soul: (1) The never ending existence of the soul is proved by its creation (Gen. 2:7; Job 33:4). The soul cannot be killed. The souls under the altar in Revelation cry out for vengeance (Rev. 6:9,10). Every person will live eternally in either the presence of God in communion with Him or in eternal separation from Him. (2) The never ending existence of the soul is proved by its spiritual nature. Souls of men are spirits (Heb. 12:9,23). The soul is immaterial. It is not educed out of matter. (3) The never ending existence of the soul is proved by its faculties of understanding, affection, and will. Eternity is set in the heart (Eccl. 3:11 NASB). The Psalmist said the heart shall live forever (Ps. 22:26). This verse asserts the absolute indestructibleness of Christian affection.

 

The one deathless thing in this world is the soul. Not one soul shall ever pass out of existence. There is a distinction between life and mere existence. The heart may have one of two states--nearness to God or separation from God. Grace makes the difference. Incorruption does not reside in the body. This is not to say the Christian will not experience incorruption of his body. Deathlessness of heart is independent of all accidents and all surroundings. We have a deathless soul in a body that is subject to death. We have the principle of life and the light of the gospel that has given us all the information we will ever have here on the earth concerning the principle of life.

 

What is the nature of life through death for the Christian? There is no interim state between one's death and the resurrection of his body. The soul is not an entity capable of existence independent of the body. The soul is not inherently immortal. That we shall live subsequent to the death of our bodies is truth. Therefore, every Christian desires to know what his existence will be like. The kind of life anticipated for man understood as a disembodied soul differs significantly from that of man as an embodied soul. The latter is appropriate to describe the state of life through death. The former would be a subtraction from our present condition. The soul separated from the body would be a meaningless existence.

 

Every human person exists after the death of his body. Life on earth requires the presence and activity of the physical body. Can a body be eliminated from the mode of existence in heaven? If so, one could not speak of perpetual activities as seeing, hearing, feeling, and tasting. These require the presence and activity of the body. The body is used in the presence of the Lord for seeing and worshipping Him. Perception and agency cannot be accounted for without invoking the presence of the body.

 

As a kernel of corn yields a corn plant, the resurrected body will be a glorified body. The same body that was sown shall be resurrected and glorified. It will be an incorruptible body. The re-creation act will occur immediately at death.

 

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom (I Cor. 15:50). That which leads to death cannot be a part of the new life where death has been conquered. The corruptible and mortal can have no place in the incorruptible and immortal. The resurrection will be a new creation where the glorified, changed person will be controlled by the Spirit. The New Testament (with one exception noted later) never uses the phrase "resurrection of the body." Rather, it speaks about the resurrection of the complete individual in reference to both just and unjust people (Luke 14:14; Acts 24:15), Lazarus (John 11:23,24; 12:1,9,17), the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:22-24), Tabitha (Acts 9:36-41), Jesus Christ, and any individual who is raised (Luke 16:31; John 6:39,40,44,54). Note that in all these cases it is not the body alone but the entire person who is raised.

 

Other New Testament passages which directly teach the resurrection, particularly insofar as they use Greek verb or noun forms of egeiro or anastasis, speak about either the dead being raised (Matt. 10:8; 11:5; Mark 12:26; Acts 26:8; I Cor. 15:16,29,35,52; I Thess. 4:16; Heb. 11:35; Rev. 20:5,6) or the resurrection of or from the dead (nekron) with or without the preposition ek (Matt. 22:31; Mark 12:25,26; Acts 4:2; 17:31,32; 23:6; 24:21; 26:23; Rom. 1:4; I Cor. 15:12,13,21,42; Heb. 6:2). Again, in these passages, what is spoken of is not dead bodies per se but the dead person who is, was, or will be raised.

 

The one exception noted above is found in Matthew 27:52 and 53--"And the graves were opened; and many bodies [accusative of soma] of the saints which slept arose [aorist passive indicative of egeiro], And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." Two things must be noted about the account it presents of the raising of many bodies: (1) The emphasis in these verses is on the appearances of the resurrected saints who had been deceased (they appeared to be many). It would seem that the reported phenomena were visual appearances, not personal encounters. As such, it would be natural to speak of the resurrection of that element or aspect which gives the appearance--the body. (2) The use of soma (body) here is not in contradistinction to other parts of man, but rather denotes the persons who appeared.

 

Two other passages must be considered with regard to the New Testament not speaking of the resurrection of a body only. Romans 8:11 and 23 and Philippians 3:21 are the passages:

 

1. In the context of Romans 8:11 and 23, Paul provided a contrast between the two spheres of the flesh and the Spirit. To attend to the former is to be hostile to God and results in sin and ultimately death (Rom. 8:6,7). However, those in Christ Jesus are freed from their concern with the realm of earthly things to devote their attention to the new order of things of the Spirit (Rom. 8:2,5). Although our bodies which feel the full effect of sin suffer its consequence, mainly death (Rom. 8:10), Christ Jesus will also effect the redemption of that most affected by sin (Rom. 8:23; Rom 6:12), and give it life through the Spirit who is already working in us (Rom. 8:11). The emphasis on giving life to our bodies is not that these alone will be resurrected but rather that the part which felt the full effect of sin is such as to be created anew in the resurrection in a form in which this power of the flesh will not have dominion. That which is in view here by the phrase "give life to your mortal body also" must be seen in the light of the contrast developed. Whereas sin has the power of death over the body, the Spirit which had the power to raise Jesus Christ has the power of life to restore the body and redeem it from sin's domination.

 

2. The second passage to be considered is Philippians 3:21. Jesus Christ will change our lowly body to be like His glorious body by the power which enables Him to subject all things to Himself. The context of this passage is similar to the Roman passage just discussed. Paul was contrasting the sphere of earthly concerns; in this, one puts his trust in the physical acts of circumcision, flesh, and the covenant--community consequences of it, with the sphere of the Spirit, which transcends any confidence in the flesh (Phil. 3:3-21). One's own righteousness counts as nothing in the sphere of faith (Phil. 3:8,9). The enemies of the cross are those whose ultimate concern is the earthly sphere. Whereas, the true concern (commonwealth) of the Christian is the heavenly sphere (Phil. 3:18-20). With this context, it can be seen that the theme of verse 21 is not so much the resurrection as the culmination of the transformation from concern with and confidence in the earthly sphere to the attainment of the heavenly sphere. The culmination is the resurrection of the person (Phil. 3:10,11), which will involve a transformation of his body to be remade like the glory-body of Jesus Christ. The passage is therefore not focusing on the resurrection of the body per se but rather on a transformation which will continue or complete the perfecting process already begun (Phil. 3:12). We may conclude from these different analyses that the notion of resurrection of only bodies is a conception foreign to the New Testament.

 

The New Testament declares the monistic, instead of a dualistic or pluralistic, view of man. A unitary anthropology has the general support of both the Old and the New Testaments. In the Old Testament Hebraic perspective, man is a whole or unity. Although various parts of man are mentioned--soul, spirit, breath, heart, and bowels--these are not different elements of man capable of separate existence; but they constitute different aspects of the total person. New Testament writers rarely used the Greek term soma, which means body, living body, dead body, corpse, or reality of substance. Furthermore, with the exception of Matthew 6:25; 10:28; and I Thessalonians 5:23, the word "soul" is not a comparable term. The word "soul" (psuche) is used to designate the following truths: (1) the natural physical life (Matt. 6:25-28; Acts 20:10), (2) the true life as distinguished from mere physical life (Mark 8:35), (3) the whole person (Matt. 11:29; Acts 2:41; 7:14; 27:37; Rom. 2:9; 13:1), (4) the inner man as the place of decision (John 10:24; Acts 14:2; 15:24; Eph. 6:6; Col. 3:23), and (5) experiences of joy, sorrow, love, etc. (Matt. 12:18; Mark 14:34; Luke 12:19).

 

The New Testament writers were not concerned merely with the resurrection of the body so that it may be subsequently conjoined to a continuously existing soul. Rather, they were concerned with the resurrection of the whole person from the dead. Of course this involves the body. Life after death is an embodied existence. The question, "how are the dead raised?" leads to the query, "with what kind of body do they come" (I Cor. 15:35)? There is no continuously existing inner life or soul without body. The entire resurrection is a creative act of God. The resurrected body will be a changed body. It dies in weakness and dishonor as a physical body modeled after the image of Adam who was made from dust, but the new body will be raised in power and glory to be an imperishable spiritual body (I Cor. 15:35-53). This body is not described in detail; but it will be changed; and the model for the change is the resurrected body of the Man from heaven, Jesus Christ (I Cor. 15:49; Phil. 3:21). The regenerated person is a new man (Eph. 2:15; 4:24), a new creation (II Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15), possessing a new nature (Col. 3:10), who has experienced the new birth (John 3:3 ff). Hence, his resurrection is a further work in the re-creative process begun in the work of regeneration.

 

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