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Sovereign Grace

     One of the great truths that was believed and preached wholeheartedly by Charles Spurgeon was the sovereignty of God and he credited his very salvation to God’s sovereign grace. He once answered the question; “Why is a man saved?” He replied, “I could only give the Calvinistic answer; He is saved through the sovereign grace of God and not at all of himself.” One thing very precious to those that teach this Bible truth is that God alone can be praised for a sinner’s salvation. The great reformers that proceeded Spurgeon by several centuries held to a belief that they labeled Soli Deo Gloria, which simply means God gets all the glory. If a person believes that he was saved by any part of human ability, he is terribly misinformed. “Salvation is of the Lord” and only of the Lord.

     Across the spectrum of today’s Christianity there is a sad misunderstanding as to what the gospel is and how it accomplishes a person’s salvation. Some church groups teach works salvation including the mass, or baptism, or joining some religious group. Others put the responsibility on the sinner to, by some decision, save himself. The fact is, as Paul made very clear in his teachings, people are “dead in sins and trespasses” (Eph.2:1), their minds are “hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot” (Rom.8:7). The lost sinner is “sold under sin” (Rom.7:14) meaning that they are slaves to sin. Paul states in Romans 3:10-12 that “none is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” It is obviously clear from the scriptures that a sinner not only cannot save himself but he is so lost that he is not interested in God or His salvation. In our natural, sinful condition we are powerless to change. It sounds very hopeless and it is for the most of humanity because of their unbelief. Jesus says, “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18). John MacArthur explains in a footnote that this phrase, “believes in his name” means more than intellectual assent to the claims of the gospel. It includes trust and commitment to Christ as Lord and Savior. The question then rises, “How can a sinner be forgiven of his sin while he is ‘dead in sins and trespasses,’ ‘hostile to God,’ and in ‘bondage to sin?”

     The great truth that Jesus presented in John, chapter three to Nicodemus was that a powerless sinner “must be born again.” However, the fact remains that he’s “dead in sin” so how does a dead man get “new life” (that’s born again). When God saves a sinner He brings new life and knowledge to that one in which He has decided to show grace. Jesus said that the new birth or being born again was accomplished by God’s Spirit. He says, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The Spirit of God is the only one that can regenerate a dead sinner (cause one to be spiritually reborn). Again, this is not accomplished by any human effort. In John, Chapter one it says, “. . . to all who did receive Him (Jesus), who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born not of blood (physical means), nor of the will of the flesh (human decision), nor of the will of man (a husband’s choice, NIV), but of God” (John 1:12,13).

     Throughout the New Testament this great truth of sovereign grace is taught. It is called sovereign because it is an act of God exclusively, accomplished by His will alone. It is called grace because salvation cannot be merited or worked for. Paul said to the Ephesians, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” If a sinner did something to win or achieve salvation, he could then glory in that he had accomplished this in part or in whole. This would rob God of His glory and place salvation in the hand of the sinner. However, this is not the Bible teaching. Jesus said in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” The question may rise, “Doesn’t God draw all men?” The Bible teaching is that God wants all men everywhere to hear the gospel. The problem is that God’s call for repentance and faith go unheeded. This was made so clear when Jesus walked among us. He taught pure truth, revealed God, raised the dead, along with scores of other miracles; yet, He was rejected and crucified. Some did believe and Jesus speaks of them; yet, He gives His Father all the credit for their coming to Him. Repeatedly in John 17 Christ uses the terms, “whom you gave me,” and “You gave them to me.” The Lord made it clear that His disciples were with Him because of His Father’s election. This is true of all those that are saved. Paul boldly states, “. . . those whom he foreknew (predetermined) he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn (preeminent Lord) among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called (elect) and those whom he called he also justified (declared righteous), and those whom he justified he also glorified”(future in heaven), (Rom.8:29-30).

     To those that are truly born again this is wonderful news. God gave us what we did not deserve (salvation by grace alone). Even the faith to believe, receive and trust the Savior was a gift from God. This teaching should result in praise and obedience to the One who bought us with His blood on the cross of Calvary. If Jesus had not died for us and settled the issue of our sin before the Holy Judge of the universe, we could not have been born again. But Jesus did die and rose again; thus, His life has been brought to us by the regeneration of His Holy Spirit.

     If you are perplexed by this article and feeling a sense of fear about your own forgiveness and salvation, I would advise that you call out to God and ask Him to enlighten you to His truth. Don’t stop pleading with Him until He comes into your life and shows the power of His Spirit. He will make it known to you how terrible your sin is before His holiness. He will also make it clear as to how Christ’s work of salvation saves a sinner from condemnation.

     Beware of those that would lead you into a false security by presenting a salvation message that is different than the Bible. They will often use the Bible to present their view but the outcome is usually a plan that leads a person into religious bondage. No church, pastor, priest, or ceremony can save a person from the condemnation of sin. There is only one hope for salvation and that is when a sinner yields to God’s work in his heart and then comes to sincere repentance and faith in the Savior Jesus Christ. God is the only one that can show you grace and save you from your sin. Call out to Him, don’t wait!

- David Parker

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