Some Gospel Truths Considered
Return to Part One
by Curt Wildy
The Vessels Of Mercy, Afore Chosen, Pre-Bordered, And Preserved Unto Salvation
But what of God’s people? We see that God has clearly made and appointed the wicked for the day of His wrath, but were specific people really chosen by God unto salvation? Consider the following passages:
Psalm 65:4 Blessed [is the man whom] thou choosest, and causest to approach [unto thee, that] he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, [even] of thy holy temple. 5 [By] terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; [who art] the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off [upon] the sea:
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him:2 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.3 13 In whom ye also [trusted], after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
2 Thessalonians 2:13 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: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 Which in time past [were] not a people, but [are] now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
We see that the Triune Godhead has chosen a people unto Himself. From eternity, God the Father covenanted with God the Son to elect a people out of fallen humanity, to be a bride, a redeemed and perfected wife, for His Son. God the Son covenanted with God the Father to be the full and sole redeemer of His bride, the full atonement and propitiation for their sins (though they were not yet created and therefore had not yet fallen into sin). The Holy Spirit covenanted with God the Father and God the Son to make the finished work of Christ on the cross effectual in the lives of God’s elect people.
King David understood this, which is why he declared blessed those whom God chooses and causes to come unto Him. The Spirit of God makes it clear that God predestinated these chosen vessels; predestinate is the Greek word proorizo (proh-or-id’-zo) and it means to predetermine, decide beforehand, foreordain, prebound, to mark out or bound in advance, to appoint, decree, or to specify beforehand. God declares that He chose and put a boundary around His people that they would be in the Light, in Christ in the Heavenlies. He made this choice in Christ from before the laying down or formation of the world.
In order for the elect to be chosen and predestinated in Christ from before the foundation of the world, the Lord had to be appointed as the sacrifice and substitute for His people from before the foundation of the world. We read in Revelation 13:8 “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” In 1 Peter 1:18 we read “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you…“
What God decrees from eternity is what already is, even if we do not see it carried out in time as of yet. God is both inside and outside of time, He is the eternal I AM, and what He declares from old is not only “what will be” but “what now is” in the eternal mind of God. We read in Isaiah 46:9-11 “Remember the former things of old: for I [am] God, and [there is] none else; [I am] God, and [there is] none like me, 10 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: 11 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.”
His pleasure and purpose includes the salvation of His people. As we read above, the election and predestination of His people is based solely upon the good pleasure of His will as manifested in the finished work of Christ. I would encourage you to read Ephesians 1 again, and again, and notice how clearly God emphasises that it is all of Him. He did the choosing and predestinating according to His purpose and will; our will plays no role whatsoever in initiating, “improving,” or maintaining our salvation.
Free Will Is A Lie
Yet man wants to believe in his own free will; mankind wants to think that their free will plays some part in their salvation. The will of man is not free; it stems from the heart and God declares that “the heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Even after the flood, God stated in Genesis 8:21 that “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” That word imagination is the Hebrew word yetser (yay’- tser) and it means forming, framing, purposing, framework. Everything that is formed or purposed in our heart, and our will is what we purpose, is wicked by nature. Our natural will is bound to sinful self and to satan; God restrains and directs it as He sees fit. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:1).
Many will-worshippers believe in a god who does elect and predestinate his people, but only those whom he foresaw would exercise their free will and choose to turn to Him. One obvious question that arises is “why would a god have to elect and predestinate a people to do that which he foreknew they would be willing to do anyway?” The fact is, God looked down through the corridors of time and saw that no man seeks Him or chooses Him of their own strength. Consider:
Psalm 14:2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, [and] seek God. 3 They are all gone aside, they are [all] together become filthy: [there is] none that doeth good, no, not one.
Psalm 53:2 God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were [any] that did understand, that did seek God. 3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; [there is] none that doeth good, no, not one.
Romans 3:9 “…for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;1 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. 7 And [there is] none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.
When unbelievers maintain, nonetheless, that “you have to give your heart to Jesus,” they are lying to you. Jesus does not want your naturally filthy, corrupted, and polluted hearts. If you are an elect child of God, He will give you a new heart that is acceptable to Him; even the heart of the Lord Jesus Christ in you. God declares in Ezekiel 11:17-20 concerning His elect “I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. 18 And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” However, in verse 21, God states “But [as for them] whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD.“
God gives His elect a heart after His own; He gives them the Holy Spirit; and He gives them the land of Israel (not that physical nation called Israel over in the Middle East, but the holy nation of Spiritual Israel, the Israel of God, which is New Jerusalem, the Heavenly Jerusalem as we read in Hebrews 12:22, Galatians 6:16, and in Revelation 3:12 and 21:2). God does it all, and gives us all. When a sinner is struck down by God and brought to see his or her own utter sinfulness, and the infinite righteousness of God, they will immediately forsake the false notions of freewill and resistable grace. They will give all of the glory to God because all of it is due to Him alone.
Consider Romans 9:13-16 again “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? [Is there] unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then [it is] not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” In John 1:11-13, God puts it this way “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Even though God is clearly teaching that man’s will has nothing to do with being born from above (just like our will had nothing to do with our being born from our earthly mother’s womb), many will ignore these passages altogether. They will make arguments like “John 1:12 states that as many as received him, God saved them, so we must have the free will to receive him.” They fail to understand that “…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” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
The word receiveth in verse 1 Corinthians 2:14 is the Greek word dechomai (dekh’-om-ahee) and it means to receive with the hands (as with the ten fingers), to receive in general, to accept, to take up, to take hold of. God is stating that the natural man (the unsaved man, the unregenerate one who has not been born from above) cannot receive or accept the things of the Spirit of God. He cannot “accept Jesus” because He cannot accept the spiritual words that testify of Jesus. Only those already born of God can receive Him. This is why the Lord declared in John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him [helkuo, hel-koo’-o, literally, to drag or draw forcefully (against active or passive resistance)]: and I will raise him up at the last day;” and again in verse 65 “no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” This is also why God declared in John 1:11-12 “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Notice, that gave is in the past tense. God had already given them power (as I have written about elsewhere, power is literally, the authority that comes from having been given spiritual existence before God based upon the life that comes from the great I AM). Those who received Christ, were those who were already made spiritually alive in Him. This ties-in directly with:
Ephesians 2:1 And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
When the elect sinner was but a natural being, one who in times past walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, he or she was without strength to receive (or “accept”) Jesus. However, when God quickens the spiritually dead sinner, giving them Life (which is Christ in them), then they receive Him willingly; for God’s people are made willing in the day of His power (Psalm 110:3). When He gives them life, He also gives them the gifts of faith (the noun form of the verb believe) and repentance, causing them to hear and believe the Truth and to turn from their wicked ways.
Yes, But I Still Think That The Bible Teaches…
God wrote the Bible in such a way that the reprobate, in reading, will not understand. Anyone who wants to justify their false doctrines can do so, in their own minds, via scripture. I aim to develop this in future articles, but the basic idea is that unsaved men and women will gravitate towards those verses that appear to give us choices. Fallen men do not realise that they have no choices; the dead cannot make decisions unto life. God says seek, yet He declares that none seeketh. He says believe, but teaches that all men (naturally) have no faith. Those that do seek only do so because God is working in them, causing them to seek. God commands us to hear, believe, understand, repent, etc. But the hearing ear, wisdom, belief and repentance are gifts that He must give. No one can open the door of their hearts to a knocking God unless God has already made them alive and given them spiritual ears to hear.
When God commands us to do something like seek Him or believe upon Him, the true Christian strives to do it, but cries “Lord, I cannot do these things of myself; without you I can do nothing. Work in me, hear my prayers, and give me the strength and grace to do that which you would have me do.” The false Christian looks at these same verses and says “see, God wants me to exercise my free will to come to Him and accept Him, and to repent and muster up my faith;” such thoughts are foolish. If God does not give you liberally of His spiritual treasure, and does not work in you to cause you to put it to good use, then such things must come from you. If it comes from you, it is filthy and but dung as the Apostle Paul and Jeremiah taught. It must be all of Christ, through the Spirit, as the Father (the Giver of every good and perfect gift) has ordained. Anything outside of that is worthless and not fit to be brought into the spiritual temple of God.
Those who hold to free will also look to verses that speak of the Lord Jesus Christ as being the “saviour of us all” or the “saviour of the world;” they interpret it to mean that the Lord Jesus is the saviour of everyone that has ever lived in this world (or else that He wants to be the saviour of everyone that has ever lived). As proven above, this is wrong; Christ is the Saviour of His elect world. Jesus is the Saviour of those in the whole world (both the Jewish world and the Gentile world, the all flesh and not just the one flesh of national Israel) whom the Father has elected unto salvation.
A saviour is one who actually saves. God is not the Saviour of the world because He made it possible for people to save themselves by “accepting Jesus” into their filthy hearts; Jesus has no desire to reside there. Nor is He the Saviour of the world because He is not willing that anyone ever born in the world should perish, and wants all of them to come to repentance of their own free will, but is incapable of seeing that what He wills actually comes to pass. No, the reason God is the Saviour of the world of His elect is because He saves them all! He doesn’t save the reprobate world, but the world consisting of those who will inhabit the new heavens and the new earth. He is the Saviour of the Israel of God, which is spiritual Israel, the New Jerusalem. God came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21); He is the Saviour of “the believing into Him all” that we read about in John 3:16 (the word “whosoever” is a horrible translation). This is the same all we read about in John 6:37 “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” These are the “all taught of God” in John 6:45. We read in Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it [literally, her since αυτης is feminine].” Christ gave Himself for the church, the Bride, His wife. He did not die for both the Bride and the whore. He did not lay down His life for both the sheep and the goats. His blood was not shed for both the wheat and the tares; He died to save many amongst, but not “all of mankind” (that many being His people and His people only).
Finally, God says concerning His people “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29). The All for whom Christ died has been given the honour and mercy to suffer for Christ’s sake. We do this primarily by speaking the truth to the world no matter what the consequence. May it be that we boldly proclaim the doctrine of grace before men, even the Gospel, striving to combat the lies spoken in the name of our God and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.
To God alone be the glory.