God alone saves. God saves alone. Not only does God do the saving alone, but He does it His way. He doesn’t save our way. He saves in a way that brings Him glory. God deserves glory. He above all things deserves the highest value, especially from His creation, and even more so from His children. God saves in a way that He will receive the glory. God must receive the glory for the salvation of a lost soul. Those working for God should desire for Him to receive the glory. It’s not just that God saved apart from our works, because we could receive the glory if salvation were by works, but also that He saves in a way that no one but God could receive the credit. If we could get the credit from it, then we are doing something wrong, contradictory to the Word of God. We know from Romans 1 that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. We know from 1 Corinthians chapters one through three that God does the salvation work by means of preaching. God saves through the preaching of the gospel. We can’t add anything to that particular methodology and that is the threshold through which God works to the saving of men’s souls. It’s foolishness to men, but it is the plan of God. It’s how God wants it done. We should do it that way. Are you participating? Is preaching the gospel a priority in your life? Do you see it as the worship of God it should be?
Bethel Baptist Church ~ El Sobrante, CA
All of humanity divides up into two parts. I understand that people don’t want it that way. They are looking for more nuance. For instance, the world would like some historically great people to be included as a special category and perhaps some really evil, historically bad people to be another category, in addition to a few other categories. Some might say land owners and non-land owners. Some could divide it by race. Reality is everyone is a sinner, but some are saved sinners who are saved from their sin and others are still lost in their sins. Again reality is that you can’t please God in your sins. You must get rid of the sin and that’s only through Jesus. Jesus is the Savior of the world. He’s the only way to heaven, the only way into His kingdom, the only sacrifice to wash away your sins. That’s God’s plan. If you just ignore that, and turn it into something temporal, then you might judge people in a different way, where they were really great if they were good speakers, could get people to follow them, helped people get rich, got rich themselves, owned a lot of property, or just went through completely tolerant of all behavior—whatever the standard you want to make for greatness. However, if it’s all about pleasing God and getting into eternity with God and on His side, which it is, then it comes down to two categories, saved or lost. You can be saved, so be saved.
This planet, the entire universe operates according to uniform laws. Why is that? Where did those come from? They got here. Why are they here? Everything looks designed and orderly, like we would think something would look if it were designed and orderly. Normally we give credit for something that looks made that it was made. Things that were not made, but came about by accident – those look obvious too. There can’t be an eternal regression of causes. There must be a first cause. Things can be so complicated that something or someone had to make them or design them. They could not have occurred by accident, because several of the parts are components, which had to exist and be working together for the entire organism to exist. By what we see, that doesn’t happen. It can’t happen. The Bible gives a very complicated, very detailed, very consistent explanation. It’s really the only explanation. You can’t see anything else. Then the Bible itself sets itself up for failure if there were any possibility it could fail. The author of the Bible is obviously God and knows He is God. He makes predictions. People don’t make the kind of predictions God makes. They can’t. God does because He knows what will happen and He can cause to happen what He want. The Bible reports what we see happen: the history, how creation looks and operates, and then it nails humanity.
April Fools Day seems to have reached proportions of almost a national holiday. “Holiday” comes from “holy day,” which means that it is a sanctified, set apart kind of day, not common. The concept of holiday has been through history something of an actual sacred day. What I’m saying is that holidays meant something. They had a sacred meaning, I’m saying. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Easter. Even Independence Day. God came into holidays, giving them the sense of holiness. At a certain point in time, nothing is sacred anymore. You’ve heard that, nothing being sacred anymore. When holidays aren’t holy any more, April Fools Day is as holy as any other holiday. Between family members, at the office, on the team or in school, the pranks and practical jokes and schemes for April Fool’s Day have become as celebratory sometimes as actual holidays. I’m not making some big point about April Fool’s Day itself. Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Holidays can turn into a sort of fool’s day when people behave on or with them as if God doesn’t exist. When nothing is sacred, holidays aren’t any more, and they may as be a sort of fool’s day, because the holiday has been emptied of its real meaning. Thanksgiving can be a holy day if someone can be and is thankful to God. Christmas can be holy if it is about God the Son. You know what I’m saying. A holiday that doesn’t have a mention of God, like Halloween, takes on more importance in a culture that doesn’t regard God any more as even existent if not important. On the other hand, if you’re a believer, every day is holy to you.
As you read through scripture, you see the various institutions God has ordained and the regulations and principles by which they are to function at their best. There are three: one, family, two, government, and, three, the church. You see in the world and even in this culture the failure of each of these God-ordained institutions. Each comes with the authority of God. The authority for every human institution is hierarchical, which means the authority is ultimately God. For instance, if government violates God’s authority, one obeys God’s authority. Government receives its authority from God, but not to function against God. Even with family, if dad or mom or husband solicits or requires disobedience to God, God again is obeyed. How does the church fit in as one of these institutions? The church is most important of the three, because through the church God rules directly. A church though isn’t a church if the Lord isn’t in charge of it. God uses government out of His sovereignty. The family is still the most fundamental institution of the three, but families are still families, even if they are almost entirely disobedient to God. The church is only the church when Jesus is the Head. Someone isn’t in line with God if He isn’t submitting within the church, which will move into His kingdom.
People need to change. People are not fine just like they are. Everyone starts out in sin. They can’t and they don’t want to do what God wants. Psalm 51:5 says man is born in sin and Romans 3 says that everyone sins. Because men are sinners does not mean that they will do the worst they could do. But what holds them back? God gets the credit here too, because we know at least three factors explain why things are not as bad as they could be. One, men are made in God’s image, so there is the image of God in man. This gives men God’s law written in their hearts and their consciences. Two, the goodness of God is all around. God’s grace is evident every where so that men will experience God’s goodness. Three, the Holy Spirit, God Himself, indwells believers so that they are salt and light. The existence of true believers, their influence, holds back the unbelievers from being as bad as they can be. This is another way that the Holy Spirit restrains a wicked world. Men know in their hearts what is right and what is wrong and out of the working of God will do what’s right. However, they should not mistake that for their own righteousness or goodness to the extent that they don’t need to be changed. All of us still need the imputed righteousness of God, His justification, because we are lost without it.
Only Jesus healed blind people in the history of the world, because He can create new eyes for someone. Only God as well can relieve spiritual blindness. I want us to think about it, because the Bible says that men are blinded. That explains what it happening. One of these is 2 Corinthians 4:4, which says, “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” The god of this world is Satan and Satan uses the world system and the flesh to blind people’s eyes. We also know that men get harder and blinder the more they reject the light. Scripture is replete with that teaching, but the classic location is Matthew 13 where Jesus says in v. 15, “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” When you consider why more don’t hear or receive the truth, understand that this is what scripture says will occur, and it is because of blindness. It’s not surprising for a blind person not to see something. The message of the gospel is a great message, but few receive it because there is a lot going against people toward receiving it.
I very often talk about the doctrine of perspecuity, which is a sub-category of the doctrine of scripture. I recognize that “perspecuity” is a very technical word, which most people don’t recognize. I still use the word because it is the technical name for a doctrine. I don’t call it the “doctrine of plainness” or the “doctrine of clarity” because those are not the historical name of the doctrine, neither are they clear at distinguishing a particular doctrine. You do have to learn some technical terms if you are going to learn theology or doctrine. It’s part of your growth. More than ever, I believe perspecuity has moved its way up in vitalness as a doctrine. I say vital, because all the doctrines of scripture are important, but this is one that is being diminished or disbelieved right now at an all time high in the world. All scriptural doctrine is attacked by the world and the devil, and all those who work for those. However, this is a unique attack on the truth. People don’t acknowledge that the Bible is plain or perspicuous, that is, you might not understand what it means. If you say you know, you are attacked for pride. By keeping scripture ambiguous and not to be understood, it loses its authority, so that people don’t have to do what it says. Whatever you want to say it means becomes as important as whatever someone else says. Then, man becomes the authority and not God.
In Exodus 15:26, you can read, “And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.” These types of verses you will find all over the Old Testament, and then in the New Testament too. I draw your attention to “keep all his statutes.” Nowhere does scripture say “keep some of his statutes” or “keep the important statutes” or “feel like keeping his statutes.” God wants all of His commandments, judgments, statutes, instructions kept. He wants them believed, obeyed, and taught. If you recognize God for Who He is — God, you will keep everything He said. Reducing what God said to what we think is important isn’t what God told us to do. We don’t even expect that for ourselves. We don’t frequent businesses or think that we are getting good customer service if we don’t get everything we ordered. There are numbers of reasons why people feel justified or think they are justified in plainly not doing all that God said, but there isn’t a good reason. We don’t expect it for ourselves, God doesn’t accept it, and we shouldn’t think that we are loving Him if we are thinking, believing, or acting that way.
We saw in John 8 something that we all know about Satan and this world system. Satan is a liar and the father of lies. God always tells the truth. God is a God of truth. As we consider Satan as a liar, we contemplate separate lies and then “the lie.” If someone believes “the lie,” then his life becomes a lie, the path he walks itself is a lie. Perhaps he thinks he walks a path of truth, but it is a lie. The truth still exists and in the end the truth about his life is that it was a lie. You can’t have a life of truth made up of a lot of separate lies. Someone who walks the path of truth eliminates the individual lies of his life. Every lie is a problem, but there are lies that are more damaging and those are lies in someone’s beliefs. If he believes wrong, that has an overall greater impact on his life before God. You can see this in scripture. For instance, David was a man after God’s own heart, and yet he had some lies in his life that were contrary to God’s will, each of which are unacceptable lies. You don’t want to tolerate in yourself any belief and practice contradictory to the truth. If it is someone else, you can’t accept the lies in and from him. For many, what’s most important are the personal lies. They are not irrelevant, but again the doctrinal and practical lies that violate scripture, those should get your attention, because they contribute to the big lie.