Not So Random Thoughts 56

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

“God has surely promised His grace to the humbled: that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another—God alone. As long as he is persuaded that he can make even the smallest contribution to his salvation, he remains self-confident and does not utterly despair of himself, and so is not humbled before God; but plans out for himself (or at least hopes and longs for) a position, an occasion, a work, which shall bring him final salvation. But he who is out of doubt that his destiny depends entirely on the will of God despairs entirely of himself, chooses nothing for himself, but waits for God to work in him; and such a man is very near to grace for his salvation. (Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will)

One of the battles that has occurred throughout the history of the professing Church has been the battle between free-will and free-grace. One of the real issues between free-will and free-grace is that free-will focuses on the ability of man and free-grace focuses on the ability and power of God. It is not a simple issue and it is not a minor issue. At the very core of the issue is whether God saves man by Himself alone or whether man contributes something to his own salvation. Romans 11:6 teaches us that if we add something to grace then grace is no longer grace. A pure grace cannot have anything added to it or it will no longer be grace. Galatians 1 teaches us that there is only one Gospel and if anyone teaches a different Gospel that person is to be eternally cursed. But again, this is as important issue as one can deal with.

The Gospel is the Gospel of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not the Gospel of man. It is not about how man can manifest his power and goodness in saving himself, but instead it is about the power and glory of God in saving sinners for His own glory. The Gospel puts the character of God on display through Christ, but the only character we see in man is the sin of man. The Gospel is indeed all about God, though indeed man does benefit. The benefits of the Gospel, however, display the freedom of the grace of God in saving sinners from beginning to end. This is not something that should be something to argue about. The Gospel should be declared and it is all about the glory and grace of God in Christ Jesus. The Gospel drips of the grace and beauty of Christ Jesus in His work in His life on earth and in His sacrificial death which propitiated the wrath of God. The grace and beauty of Christ Jesus is in His giving a perfect righteousness to His people. There is nothing left for man to contribute and as such man has nothing to boast about but the cross of Christ.

Each of the passages of Scripture listed above and the quote by Luther are in perfect harmony. There is not a hint of free-will as a power, but all drive men and women to Christ Jesus who alone has power to save. The doctrines that support and are supported by free-will fly in the face of the Gospel of the free-grace of God. They are supported by teaching of man-centeredness rather than God-centeredness. They put the weight of salvation on the shoulders of man rather than on the character of God. This is twisting the truth of the Gospel and of the method of grace that is used by the Holy Spirit. Man must be converted by the Holy Spirit rather than something man does. Man must be humbled by God and regenerated by the Spirit of God. The will is not free to change the heart of man as that is the work of God.

The gate that free-will enters is not narrow. The road that free-will enters is quite broad. The false prophets are quite adept at promoting free-will, but that which flows from the human will is not what flows from the Holy Spirit. Men will argue in the day of final judgment that they did certain things which is an argument from free-will. Men will strive to enter the kingdom, even trying to die to self and to humble self, but those things are the things that God works in man by His grace. Men will and men run, but in doing so they are not looking to the mercy and grace of God alone. Men will fight and do anything but look to God to work in them a despair of self and all that the will can do. The doctrine of grace alone is talked about in some circles, but oh how lacking our day is in the real teaching of men dying to self and all that the will can do in order to be saved by that grace alone. It is not just an intellectual understanding that men are saved by grace alone that is needed, but it is a real grace doing a real work in men that is needed. A free-will cannot do that and cannot bring that about in any way.

 

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