Archive for the ‘Free Grace’ Category

Free Grace 26

August 27, 2015

Nothing in man doth precede or prevent the grace of God. The light and beams of grace do dispel the clouds of our sins. Not for our sakes, but for his Name’s sake he covereth our sins. It is God’s prerogative to free us from sin by grace, and to remove them far from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” {Ps.103:12} He only can remove sin against whom it is committed. He only can cast sin into the depths of the sea, who hath an ocean of grace in himself, in which he swalloweth them up. John Simpson {Perfection of Justification, 1648}

Luke 23:32 Two others also, who were criminals, were being led away to be put to death with Him. 33 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left…38 Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

If we take a careful look at the text just above, it should strike us that the thief on the cross who was saved was saved by a free-grace that was totally apart from anything he did to move God to show him that grace. The argument that he could have just made an exercise of his free-will and made an act of faith is simply absurd in light of who this criminal was and in light of the biblical teaching on this subject. When Peter confessed Christ he was told by Christ that flesh and blood had not revealed that to him but the Father who was in heaven did this. That was why he was blessed. We simply cannot believe that the thief on the cross was blessed because he came up with the idea that Jesus was the Messiah and trusted in Him of himself.

Can the human soul make any decision for anything but out of self-love and enmity for God before it is regenerated? Any religious decision that the thief would have made before conversion would have been based on the same sinful self-love and self-centeredness that he based every decision on his whole life. This is to say that he could not have made any spiritual act toward Christ and so that act could not have moved God to save him. Not only that, but no spiritual act can move God to save a sinner either. Any spiritual act that a sinner (saved or unsaved) makes comes from God in the first place. The only thing that could have saved this thief on the cross was free-grace and nothing but free-grace.

Can the human soul have love for God before it has a regenerate heart and the Holy Spirit in it? What, then, could this soul do to move God to save it? But again, and knowingly repetitive, what decision or choice can a soul make before regeneration and apart from the fruit of the Holy Spirit that would move God to save it? The soul has nothing but enmity toward God and no love at all. How would that thief on the cross and that soul which hated God without the smallest bit of love be able to move God to save it? Can anything but free-grace save such a wretch or any wretch from the human race? Of course not, there is utterly no way. The salvation of any soul is by the free and sovereign grace of God. Why do men want to wrench some of the credit away from God? It is because they want to control their own salvation and trust in their own work of faith.

Could the will be free from its utter bondage to sin without being cleansed by Christ and in regeneration? But the will is not free and instead it is in utter bondage to sin, self, and the devil. The soul must be delivered from the bondage of sin, self, and the devil before it could even possibly be thought to be free, though of course the will is never free from its mind, nature, and affections. It is the soul as a whole that must be made free before any soul would love God. There must be a new nature before there can be a new love. The love for self and sin as a reigning principle must be taken away and the love of God must dwell in the soul. This is to say, once again, there is nothing that can precede and there is nothing or prevent the grace of God. The true and living God cannot be moved apart from Himself to save sinners. God saves sinners to the glory of His name and based on the work of Christ that He was sent to do and carried out for the glory of God. Sinners must die to self and look to Christ alone. This dying to self and looking to Christ alone is something that only free-grace can do. The thief couldn’t do it.

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Free Grace 25

August 26, 2015

Nothing in man doth precede or prevent the grace of God. The light and beams of grace do dispel the clouds of our sins. Not for our sakes, but for his Name’s sake he covereth our sins. It is God’s prerogative to free us from sin by grace, and to remove them far from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” {Ps.103:12} He only can remove sin against whom it is committed. He only can cast sin into the depths of the sea, who hath an ocean of grace in himself, in which he swalloweth them up. John Simpson {Perfection of Justification, 1648}

Luke 23:32 Two others also, who were criminals, were being led away to be put to death with Him. 33 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left…38 Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

In the last posting (Free Grace 34) I tried to point out that there is nothing but free-grace that could save this man as there was utterly nothing else that could be argued as to why this man was converted. But of course there is one thing that can be argued, though I don’t think that it is a real argument at all. Some would argue that the man simply made a choice of his own free-will and so God saved the man because he had faith. Perhaps one could even say that the vast majority of people who say they believe the Bible and the Gospel in our day would make that argument. I can only say that it is a terrible argument to make as it makes faith out to be a work and so the criminal is then said to have saved himself by one work, or at least contributed to his own salvation by that one work.

We can respond by simply asking those people where that faith came from (God’s gift or man’s work) and what is the biblical teaching on what is the purpose of faith. While this has been dealt with previously, it is good to look at it from a real life example and especially a biblical example. What would move God to save this man because the man came up with faith? What is it about faith that would make it of such a quality thing that it would move God to save the sinner who comes up with it? God demands perfection in salvation and as such there is no righteousness acceptable to Him but that of Christ. So can a man come up with a perfect faith and as a result of that one perfect act of faith God is moved to save the man? How can this be?

We must look at this and think through this issue. If there is a faith that can come from a human being that can come from the human being apart from grace, which clearly a will that is free is free of grace, then that human being is not saved by Christ alone and is not saved by grace alone. If a human being is partially saved or can do something to move God to save him that another does not do, then the doctrine of election is overthrown and man is sovereign. Of course the very concept of a will that is free also implies that the will is free of sin or free of depravity at that point to. If the will is not totally free of depravity at the point of faith, then how can the act of faith move God to save the sinner? If the will is free, then it is not only free of depravity and of grace but also of the regenerating power of God.

We must fight to our dying breaths the notion that sinners are saved in some way other than sheer and perfect free-grace. Sinners are saved and sanctified based on the glory of God in Christ and that alone. There are no other reasons than God for why sinners are saved and sanctified. If we are not saved and sanctified by free-grace, then we are saved and sanctified by grace plus something we do. As we look at the thief on the cross who was crucified for his crimes and yet saved by free-grace alone, we must know that this is the pattern and the only way anyone can be saved and sanctified. We will always look to Christ alone and grace alone or we will look to self in some way to move God on our behalf. God can only be moved by His own name and glory and the name of Christ. If He is moved by another, then He is no longer holy. We give up free-grace at a terrible price.

Free Grace 24

August 25, 2015

Nothing in man doth precede or prevent the grace of God. The light and beams of grace do dispel the clouds of our sins. Not for our sakes, but for his Name’s sake he covereth our sins. It is God’s prerogative to free us from sin by grace, and to remove them far from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” {Ps.103:12} He only can remove sin against whom it is committed. He only can cast sin into the depths of the sea, who hath an ocean of grace in himself, in which he swalloweth them up. John Simpson {Perfection of Justification, 1648}

Luke 23:32 Two others also, who were criminals, were being led away to be put to death with Him. 33 When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left…38 Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” 39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

In considering the conversion and death of the criminal who was crucified with Jesus, we again look for what would have moved God to save the criminal. Matthew 27:44 says that both robbers were insulting Him. What we have, then, is a man who was a criminal and is said to have been a robber. We don’t know if he assaulted his victims or even killed some, but he was a criminal and a robber. While this man was on the cross he was insulting Jesus and mocking Him. This man was born dead in sins and trespasses and it would appear that he had been given over to sin during his life and appeared to be a fairly hardened sinner.

There can be no doubt at all in this case that there was nothing in this man and there was nothing that this man did to move God to save him. This man was a sinner by nature and a sinner by practice. He was not even an outwardly good man. Even after he was nailed to a cross himself he mocked and insulted the Lord Jesus. Was there anything at all that could have moved God to save him? One could argue that he still had free-will and so he chose to be saved. In light of the teachings of Scripture as a whole, we know that argument is simply impossible. A hardened criminal will not confess his sin unless by grace God opens his eyes to his sin. We know that Peter was told when he confessed Christ that he was blessed because flesh and blood had not shown that to him but the Father who is in heaven had taught him that. The criminal had nothing in him to move God to open his eyes to his sin and then to show him something of the glories of Christ.

How could this hardened criminal know who Jesus was apart from having his eyes opened and being taught this by God? How could this criminal have such a change of heart apart from his heart being changed? How could this criminal who was a hater of Christ and mocked Christ now turn to the Lord Jesus who was also hanging on a cross and ask Him to remember him when He (Jesus) came into His kingdom? The free-grace of God is our only answer to the questions. This criminal stood and stands as an example and wonder of free-grace. There is absolutely nothing good that could be said about this man and there is nothing that could make him more savable than any other, though in the eyes of moralists there may have been some who were worse. Behold the free-grace of God in Christ Jesus that saves sinners despite who they are and what they are and makes them trophies of Divine grace!

We can see how this man was brought to a realization of his own sin and what that sin deserved. We can see how he went from enmity toward Jesus to faith and submission to the Lord Jesus. We can see that he trusted in nothing of himself but simply looked to Christ, but not just looked to any Christ but he was looking to Christ who was on the cross and being crucified before his very eyes. God had to have opened his eyes to see that this Jesus was indeed the King of the Jews. This criminal went from mocking Jesus about that to believing Christ was the true King in an eternal kingdom and that while Christ was being crucified as a criminal. If a person cannot at least see the concept of free-grace in this, that person has a hardened heart. But for the rest, behold the wonder, glory, and beauty of free-grace! Behold the loveliness of a thrice holy God who saves sinners through Christ because of who He is and not for anything found in us sinners. Look to this free-grace alone and ask God to show you the nature of free-grace and the workings of free-grace. This free-grace will work in your heart to show you your sin, subdue your heart to Christ, and then give you a new heart and all of that quite apart from what you deserve. This grace has no cause found in you, but all is found in Him and His love for His own name and glory.

Free Grace 23

August 24, 2015

Nothing in man doth precede or prevent the grace of God. The light and beams of grace do dispel the clouds of our sins. Not for our sakes, but for his Name’s sake he covereth our sins. It is God’s prerogative to free us from sin by grace, and to remove them far from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” {Ps.103:12} He only can remove sin against whom it is committed. He only can cast sin into the depths of the sea, who hath an ocean of grace in himself, in which he swalloweth them up. John Simpson {Perfection of Justification, 1648}

In our daily trials and in the greater trials that He brings to us in His great mercy, He makes us share in the sufferings of Christ. One of the sufferings of Christ was in the Father withdrawing from Him, though there could never be a complete withdraw since they are united in the Trinity. For believers every physical trial is really a spiritual trial. The evil one fires his darts of doubt and unbelief toward those who are in physical discomfort and they may begin to doubt that God can really have grace and love for them.

The grace of God is always based on God and not on our worth or merit. When we seem to be set aside and can do nothing for anyone else, we will be attacked with doubts of many kinds. How we need to hear that the grace of God is not for the worthy and is not for those who can obtain just a bit by their doing for others. There is nothing in us and there is nothing we can do that will move God to show grace to us. God shows grace to us because of who He is and for the glory of His name. Not only, however, can nothing in us precede His grace and so He is always free to be gracious to whom He will be gracious, but nothing can prevent His grace either. The soul must come to the knowledge that God will be gracious to whom He will be gracious. The body that is weak and has no strength may think that it is to be set aside by God and all others, but God shows grace to such because of who He is. Nothing can precede grace and nothing can prevent it. The poor sinner and fainting soul needs to hear that.

Behold His utter and absolutely free-grace in Christ. It is free in the sense that there are no conditions on our part that we must fulfill. If there is something that we need for Him to show us grace, then He must work that in us. But what we really must have is an utter insufficiency on our part and look to Christ and His glory as totally sufficient to show grace to us. That, after all, is truly grace. Poor fainting souls need to look to grace for all that is needed and forget trying to be worthy of the slightest amount. Forget trying to be this or that and simply look to the free-grace of God in Christ Jesus. Knowing that despite the greatness of their physical trials they (trials) have all been sent by the hand of God and most likely to teach them the wonders of His free-grace in Christ in a deeper way. All grace is given to us in Christ and it is only and completely for the sake of Christ that we receive grace. How we need to look to Christ and Him alone for the grace of faith and the grace to keep us going each moment. We are not sustained by grace because we have faith, but because of grace we have faith and so are sustained by grace. If our faith weakens, we must not look to ourselves as failures in faith, but instead look to Christ for more faith and more grace. If He shows us pride in our hearts and the devil tells us that He opposes us, we must look to Christ for humility and then the grace He gives to the humble. If we find ourselves so tired that we cannot look to Christ, then we are simply to collapse in the arms of His grace as a baby does in the arms of its mother. Looking to grace is not a work, but instead it is the work of grace as well.

Collapse and give up all rights to self and all the anxieties and even tiredness that goes with physical problems and the spiritual battles that do come. Give yourself up to His hand of providence and to the greatness of His grace. Nothing can befall you but what He has planned from eternity to bring grace to you. All our physical problems, our spiritual battles, and even the fiery darts of the evil one have been planned for our good. It matters not how mature we think we are or really are in spiritual matters, we will always have a lot of room for growth. As our every breath comes from Him in the ultimate sense, so our every spiritual impulse is from Him as well. When we are weak, He is strong. When we cannot go any longer, underneath are the everlasting arms. As Paul said in pointing us all to the reality of life and eternity, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Every breath we breathe we are to breathe Christ, but we can only do that by grace alone. Oh look to that Divine hand which gives grace as He pleases and when He pleases. If He keeps our tears in a bottle, how precious it is to Him to behold Himself and His glory shining in us as our bodies weaken. However, the inward person is getting stronger and stronger despite how weak it appears to us. It is, after all, in our weakness and our nothingness that His strength and grace shine forth. Shine, shine, and shine some more as the Lord shows us more of His grace and glory in our inward persons.

Free Grace 22

August 23, 2015

Nothing in man doth precede or prevent the grace of God. The light and beams of grace do dispel the clouds of our sins. Not for our sakes, but for his Name’s sake he covereth our sins. It is God’s prerogative to free us from sin by grace, and to remove them far from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” {Ps.103:12} He only can remove sin against whom it is committed. He only can cast sin into the depths of the sea, who hath an ocean of grace in himself, in which he swalloweth them up. John Simpson {Perfection of Justification, 1648} Obtained from Supralapsarian.com

The teaching and reality of free-grace is the most comforting and helpful to souls that are worn out and deeply tried. The heart that has felt the weight of his or her sin and has nothing in self to come to God with and nothing to move God to answer his or her prayer is a soul that must have free-grace or it knows it has no hope. The soul that has been wearied with many trials and each one beyond its own strength has nothing to look to but free-grace. The soul that God has put under a dark cloud sees nothing in itself that could possibly move God to come and comfort it knows the comforting truth of free-grace. The soul that has had Christ Himself teach it that it is utterly impoverished of spirit and has nothing that it can obtain righteousness with knows from the depths of the soul just how comforting the truth of free-grace is.

God trains His children with trials and hard things. He will not have them to look to themselves for anything at all. He will bring them to an end of all hope in self and all trust in self for grace or anything else. In doing this He is stretching them beyond what they can endure and as such teaches them that they are insufficient for the slightest thing, but also that grace must be free-grace or they would never have the blessing of it at all. The children of God wrestle with God on behalf of their children, marriages, spouses, churches, and their own hearts, but it should never escape the heart of tongue of a true believer to pray on behalf or in the name of anyone but Christ. God does not give grace because we pray and He does not give grace to others on our behalf, but grace is always in the name of Christ alone and it is always a free-grace.

There are few Calvinists in our day in reality, though many take that name. Calvinism, in one sense, should be just a synonym for free-grace and for free-grace to be applied consistently in all areas. It is one thing to speak on behalf of doctrinal Calvinism, but it is quite another to have our hearts bowed in humility to where we plead with God to give us hearts that love Him and thoughts that exalt in Him. It is also quite another thing from the theological statement about sovereignty to know that it is only by free-grace that our hearts will love Him and our thoughts will exalt Him. Even more, our prayers can only be answered by free-grace as well. Our prayers do not put an obligation on God in any way, though it is true that His grace will put prayers in our hearts. The Scripture tells us that we are to walk or live by grace, but the real intent is to tell us to walk and live by free-grace.

If we are to live by free-grace, then we must be humbled by the sovereign hand of God to where we really and truly are broken of heart enough to know in the depths of our souls that God cannot be moved by any condition we can keep. There is nothing that we can be or do at any point in our life that brings God under any obligation to us to give us the slightest grace. However, that is also very freeing to the soul that desires to live by love for Him and His glory. What moves God to give grace is His own glory. When a soul begins to seek the Lord and ask Him to change it to where it will begin to long for His glory and to long for it to be manifested to others, that soul must know that it will have to live by free-grace alone as that is what glorifies God. In fact, we should not even desire anything to come to us but by free-grace because that is how God glorifies Himself.

The doctrine of free-grace can be disputed with words and with Scripture, but the soul that has been taught of the Lord in the depths of the heart will know that it lives upon the bounty of His grace that is moved only by Himself and that the soul has nothing in itself to look to at all. There are no conditions that a soul can meet or come up with in its own strength and power and so the inwardly taught soul will look to free-grace alone for all things. The soul that has learned at the foot of the cross knows that regardless of the trial and regardless of the strength of the trial that there is nothing meritorious it can do in that trial, so it learns to look to free-grace which is for His glory. While free-grace sounds horrible to most, it is actually the most freeing teaching for those who love His glory. In fact, we cannot love His glory in truth if we are enemies to free-grace. Free-grace is meat for the children of God and is cold water to those who are thirsty for Him. Free-grace is the strength of weary souls and gives energy to those who are completely worn out. Oh that someone today would preach this glorious truth!

Free Grace 21

August 22, 2015

Nothing in man doth precede or prevent the grace of God. The light and beams of grace do dispel the clouds of our sins. Not for our sakes, but for his Name’s sake he covereth our sins. It is God’s prerogative to free us from sin by grace, and to remove them far from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” {Ps.103:12} He only can remove sin against whom it is committed. He only can cast sin into the depths of the sea, who hath an ocean of grace in himself, in which he swalloweth them up. John Simpson {Perfection of Justification, 1648} Obtained from Supralapsarian.com

Acts 16:25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. 33 And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. 34 And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.

If we look at the biblical narrative about the conversion of the jailer with the distinctly different ideas between free-grace and free-will (conditional grace) in mind, there is no question which side the Bible teaches. There is nothing in this text that teaches a conditional grace (free-will) and yet we see free-grace exalted and set forth in all that happened. Were Paul and Silas in prison based on their “free-will” or because God had a plan to save the jailer by grace alone? Were Paul and Silas praying an singing hymns of praise to God because of their free-wills or because God had saved them by free-grace and so they were now slaves of righteousness who recognized that God owned them and was sovereign over all that happened to them? Were the prisoners listening to Paul and Silas because they were free to do so or because as part of God’s sovereign will they were in prison with Paul and Silas?

The earthquake, clearly and without question, could only happen because God had decreed it and it happened at the precise moment God decreed it to happen. How could a mindless and “natural” earthquake open all the doors to the jail and also unfasten the chains of all the prisoners? Even more mind-boggling, not one of the prisoners took the opportunity to escape. We can see the power of God over all the prisoners. Whether God saved some or all of the other prisoners we may not know, but we know that part of His plan for this whole event was the salvation of the jailer by free-grace.

The wonder of the free-grace of God is put on display for those who have eyes to hear. Did this jailer deserve to have Paul and Silas be put in his jail? Did this jailer deserve to hear Paul and Silas pray and praise God? Did this jailer deserve to have his heart awakened to his sin? Did this jailer deserve to have an earthquake set the prisoners free from their bonds and yet not have one of them escape? Did this jailer deserve to have Paul crying out to him not to harm himself? Did the jailer deserve to be able to ask Paul and Silas what he had to do to be saved and then to have them tell him the Gospel? Did the jailer deserve to have his heart opened in order to hear the Gospel and be regenerated by the sovereign grace of God?

In simply asking all the questions above it is quite clear that nothing preceded the plan of God and the grace of God toward this jailer and his household. It was all from a sovereign plan and free-grace. The same is true of all those who are saved or will be saved. No sinner deserves to have sovereign circumstances and sovereign actions to bring him or her to an utter humility and brokenness of heart. No sinner deserves to even hear of Christ Jesus much less hear of the glory of Christ in the Gospel and of free-grace. How awful and wicked it is to tell sinners that they must trust in their free-will choice when in fact it is all of free-grace. How deceptive it is to point sinners to themselves when the circumstances around them and the Gospel points to free-grace. Let us never ascribe anything that comes from our sovereign God on the basis of free-grace to ourselves even if it is ever so slight. Let us learn to abhor all the glory and ability of man and exalt free-grace. All the conditions that men set out are opposed to free-grace and so if we stand for free-grace we must oppose conditions as well. In our day it appears as if few stand for free-grace. Nevertheless, there is no other Gospel. May God send forth preachers of free-grace in our day that His glory would shine.

Free Grace 20

August 21, 2015

Nothing in man doth precede or prevent the grace of God. The light and beams of grace do dispel the clouds of our sins. Not for our sakes, but for his Name’s sake he covereth our sins. It is God’s prerogative to free us from sin by grace, and to remove them far from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” {Ps.103:12} He only can remove sin against whom it is committed. He only can cast sin into the depths of the sea, who hath an ocean of grace in himself, in which he swalloweth them up. John Simpson {Perfection of Justification, 1648} Obtained from Supralapsarian.com

Acts 16:25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. 33 And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. 34 And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.

As we behold the glory of God in His giving of free-grace to the jailer, we can note that nothing that the jailer did preceded the grace of God. It is surely obvious that God had set His heart on showing this jailer grace and that the whole event shines forth with that grace. The text tells us that Paul and Silas were thrown into jail after being beaten and were in stocks. But Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God. Surely this was not lost on the jailer. The very men who were beaten and jailed were praising God. If the jailer was moved by these truths about God then this was simply the grace of God and no works by the jailer.

Why did an earthquake hit at the very moment it did? God had at least one man and his family that He was going to bring to Himself. The earthquake, then, should be seen as a means of grace to the man and we can see that God used that earthquake to strike fear of sudden doom in that man. The man deserved nothing but a hardened heart, but God awakened the man according to His good pleasure and surely that was grace to the jailer and then his family to come. We can behold with great admiration what God did to bring the jailer and his family to saving grace. He planned and then used the arrests of Paul and Silas to bring men who would proclaim the Gospel of grace to the jailer even while in their bonds. He planned and sent the earthquake that awakened the jailer and brought terror to his heart. He kept the prisoners from escaping. He used Paul to cry out with a loud voice for the jailer not to harm himself. But again, behold the grace of God shining through providence.

The jailer came trembling to his captives and asked them what he must do in order to be saved. He was told that he must believe in the Lord Jesus, both him and his household. What happened next? Was there an act of the free-will of the jailer? No, what we see is that Paul and Silas were enabled to preach the word of the Lord to the jailer and his whole household. God used the preached word and by His sovereign grace He saved the jailer and his whole household. What we see, then, and that quite clearly, was that God had orchestrated a series of events that brought the message of the Gospel to these people. There was nothing that they did that can be thought of as preceding the grace of God. No, what we see is the sovereign hand of God reaching out because of His great name and not because the jailer worked hard or was good enough in any way to have grace. What we see is the providence of God in using His servants, using nature, and then His sovereign hand over the very heart of the jailer. The grace of God preceded anything that the jailer did and as such nothing preceded the grace of God. Instead of admiring the wise decision of the jailer and his household, we should admire the grace of God, the wisdom of God, and the power of God in the events leading to the salvation of the jailer and his household. Behold the glory of grace. Behold the beauty of grace. Behold the absolute wonder of the sovereign God who moves mountains (earthquakes) to bring sinners to Himself. In that we also see that nothing can prevent grace either. Free-grace is glorious!

Free Grace 19

August 20, 2015

Nothing in man doth precede or prevent the grace of God. The light and beams of grace do dispel the clouds of our sins. Not for our sakes, but for his Name’s sake he covereth our sins. It is God’s prerogative to free us from sin by grace, and to remove them far from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” {Ps.103:12} He only can remove sin against whom it is committed. He only can cast sin into the depths of the sea, who hath an ocean of grace in himself, in which he swalloweth them up. John Simpson {Perfection of Justification, 1648} Obtained from Supralapsarian.com

Galatians 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

We must never, ever think of grace coming to sinners based on anything but grace alone. This is utterly vital to consider and think of in regarding the biblical teaching of grace and of how grace relates to the character of God. Whether we think of grace in terms of justification or sanctification, grace must never be thought of in terms of coming as a result of something we do. Grace must never be thought of in terms of conditions we fulfill. The only slight caveat to that is that God does give us grace and then more grace after the first grace, so it may appear that He gives grace on a conditional stance. However, what we must understand that is there is anything like what we might think of as a condition, that condition comes to us by grace as well. It would be more helpful to think of this as the steps of grace. For example, God requires humility in order to give grace. However, we only receive true humility by the grace of God. So the truth of the matter is that God does give grace in place of grace.

We do not receive grace because we are growing in sanctification, but we receive grace because God has given us grace by sharing His holiness with us. This is utterly vital in thinking of sanctification and how that can only come to us by grace. Apart from Me (said Jesus) you can do nothing. There is nothing good in us and there is nothing good we can do unless we receive it from God by grace alone. God does not give us grace because we are growing in sanctification, but instead He works in us this growth in sanctification by grace and then gives more grace. We only grow in sanctification when we die to the efforts of self to grow in holiness in its own strength and we give up all hope in self to obtain any degree of holiness at all. It is just as legalistic to think that we can do something to obtain holiness and sanctification (and please God by that) in our own strength as it is to think that we can do something to move God to save us. We have people denouncing legalism for salvation while the same people teach and practice virile forms of legalism in sanctification. We must die to self rather than seek holiness by self.

There is no holiness and no righteousness that we can possibly work up unless we receive it from God first. Do we have anything at all that we have not received? If we have not received it, then where did it come from? If we did not receive it from God, then it is of the works of the flesh and the works of self. There is no other option unless we want to admit that we received it from the devil. If we think we can obtain holiness by the strength of self, then we are as assuredly slighting the work of Christ as those who think they can save themselves by something they do. If we think that we can obtain holiness by our own works, then we are the ones that distinguish ourselves from others by the work of self and we are the ones that can do things to move God to show us grace.

Why is it that people think that God will give them things if they will do something for Him prior to that? The only good we can do must come from Him first and that will only come on the basis of grace. Anything less than that is a type of thinking that is nothing more and nothing less than a works based system that destroys the Gospel of grace alone. We cannot believe and we cannot love from faith unless we receive all of that by grace. The true job of faith is to receive grace (Romans 4:16) and faith comes to us as a gift of God by grace so that we may receive grace. Faith is not some power that we can come up with in order to please God, but faith is that which we receive grace and so God is pleased when His own glory shines out of Himself, comes to us through Christ, and then shines back to Him. Indeed faith is said to work by love, but love comes to us by grace as well. Only Christians can possibly love and they can only love because they are born of God and know God. This knowing God is to receive from Him all that we receive and all that we receive we receive by grace alone. There is utterly no possibility that grace can be anything but free of conditions that we can meet, but God by His grace works in us by grace what we must have to receive more grace. Indeed we live by grace in all ways.

Free Grace 18

August 15, 2015

Nothing in man doth precede or prevent the grace of God. The light and beams of grace do dispel the clouds of our sins. Not for our sakes, but for his Name’s sake he covereth our sins. It is God’s prerogative to free us from sin by grace, and to remove them far from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” {Ps.103:12} He only can remove sin against whom it is committed. He only can cast sin into the depths of the sea, who hath an ocean of grace in himself, in which he swalloweth them up. John Simpson {Perfection of Justification, 1648} Obtained from Supralapsarian.com

Galatians 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

With the recognition that this may be repetitive, the issue of turning faith into a work is so widespread and deceptive and turns the Gospel of free-grace alone into a gospel of works that the risk must be taken. It is not wrong to be repetitive on vital issues. While the first sentence from the above quote is not a direct quote from the Bible, it is a statement that gets at a vital biblical issue and is why we must never back down from declaring that faith is not a work and cannot be thought of as a work. If faith is allowed to be a work regardless of what it is called, then the Gospel of grace alone has been overthrown.

The issue of a work of faith (work up faith) in order to obtain grace is rampant among the teachings for unbelievers as well as believers. God never gives grace because we come up with faith as an act of the will or any other work we can do. Grace always comes to a person because of who God is and there is nothing we can do to precede grace. It is true that a soul that has true faith is a soul that will receive grace, but the vital point is that true faith comes by grace and it is given to sinners so that they may receive more grace. It is true that God gives grace to the humble, but humility is an act of grace as well. We cannot work up humility in our own strength and by our own wills, but instead humility comes to us by Christ and all we receive from Him is by grace.

It is vital to the Gospel of grace alone to fight all attempts to bring a work into the Gospel even when it is termed “faith.” The whole concept of faith is that it too is a gift of God and that we are to seek faith from God as well rather than work it up in our own power. Even when those who are Reformed in name try to teach people that they must believe, there is really nothing that they are teaching them that is different from Arminianism. Just as we are to look to God for all blessings to come to us in Christ and by grace, so we must teach people to look to God for faith. If we don’t, then we have twisted faith into a work that people can come up with and we have God responding to men because they came up with faith. At that point the Gospel is no longer about grace alone.

But again, when ministers are urging people to have faith in order to do good works, where does that faith come from? Are they urging people to work up this faith in their own power or are they urging people to seek faith from the hand of God who gives faith itself based on grace as well? As long as we are not making it clear to people that their sanctification is by grace and that their growing faith must come by grace too, then what we are teaching people is a system that is based on works. Oh, says the other side, we must always balance God’s act with our responsibility. Okay, but we must never try to balance the grace of God with our works. It is our obligation to see God for the grace and strength to give us the ability to respond to our obligations. It seems as if the word “responsibility” is being used as an excuse for bringing works into the Gospel.

Let the ministers of the nations repent of their vile wickedness in preaching a Gospel of works under the guise of using biblical language of grace alone. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in man that can precede the grace of God. This is to say with Romans 11:6 that for us to bring one work into grace is to make grace no longer grace. For a man to bring one work into the Gospel of grace alone means that it is no longer the Gospel of grace alone. One work destroys the whole. When anyone teaches faith as a work, whether they intend to or not, whether they are Arminian or “Reformed” in name, that person makes grace no longer to be grace. In line with Romans 4, men must stop working in order to look to Christ alone. It is not that they must almost stop working or stop all working except for working up faith, but they must cease all works in order to look to grace alone. This is utterly vital!!!

Free Grace 17

August 13, 2015

Nothing in man doth precede or prevent the grace of God. The light and beams of grace do dispel the clouds of our sins. Not for our sakes, but for his Name’s sake he covereth our sins. It is God’s prerogative to free us from sin by grace, and to remove them far from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” {Ps.103:12} He only can remove sin against whom it is committed. He only can cast sin into the depths of the sea, who hath an ocean of grace in himself, in which he swalloweth them up. John Simpson {Perfection of Justification, 1648} Obtained from Supralapsarian.com

Galatians 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

There is a huge difference between the one who preaches free-grace and the one who preaches faith alone in the modern way and sense. The way of faith alone focuses on the sinner and the need of the sinner to have faith, so the Arminian and the Calvinist (in name) can use the same type of preaching and say they have the same Gospel. Perhaps they do, but that is not the same Gospel as the Gospel of free-grace alone. The Gospel of free-grace focuses on the need of the sinner in light of the glory of God, but its real focus is on the God who alone can give a new heart which is a believing heart. The modern focus is on faith and the need of faith, yet the older way focuses on God and His ability to give the faith that is needed. The modern way is really just another man-centered method while the old way is the God-centered Gospel of free-grace. The modern way puts the focus on man and so man focuses on himself to come up with the faith that is needed, the older way focuses on God because He alone can save sinners and He alone can give a new heart. The differences, once again, are huge.

Some people don’t seem to see the huge differences between these two views. One could argue that they are simply blinded by the same language and cannot see beyond the words. On the other hand, it can also be argued that the real issue is the disagreement over the underlying theology. The Arminian is comfortable using words like “faith” and “grace” as long as they are used in a certain way, and for some reason modern Calvinists are comfortable using the same words in much the same way. When a person stresses the sovereignty of God and free-grace, however, the Arminian and the modern Calvinists will stand together against what they perceive as hyper-Calvinism. Without denying that there is such a thing as hyper-Calvinism, it is interesting that the Reformers, the Puritans, and many of the older Baptist writers were quite opposed to Arminianism and would not stand with them in their use of the words “faith” and “grace.” In the older days there were many volumes written specifically against the Arminian teaching. Perhaps, then, we should begin to wonder if modern Arminians and modern Calvinists are really standing together against old Calvinism or against the biblical teaching of free-grace.

Martin Luther wrote that unless a man had been humbled enough to where he denied his own free-will he was not ready to be saved. I would argue that when Luther wrote that a man is saved by grace alone through faith alone he was arguing for free-grace alone. When Luther argued that for grace to be grace it must be sovereign grace, he was arguing for free-grace. When Luther argued for justification by faith alone, he was arguing for free-grace alone. Words are important and even vital, so we must argue for the meaning of words and the concepts behind words in order to use words properly and to be sure we are communicating properly. I would argue that the words or term “faith alone” are being used differently than Luther used them and in fact are being used to set forth heresy in our day. I would also argue the same for “grace alone” as well. Words that were used to set out orthodoxy are being used in our day to set out heresy. We must get to the meanings of concepts that the words either use or even hide.

We must never think of faith as anything less than what God can work in the soul of man and He will only do that by grace. We must never think of grace as anything less than what God sovereignly and freely gives to man apart from anything man can be or do. Our theology and the Gospel that we preach must never contradict or go against the true meaning of faith and grace, but instead our theology and the Gospel we preach must flow in accordance with the true meaning of faith and grace because only then will they be in accordance with the truth of who God is. The Gospel is never contingent upon the response of man, but instead man’s response is always contingent upon God and His glorious grace. The glorious doctrine of God’s sovereign and free-grace will always oppose and militate against any doctrine that makes anything contingent upon man and his response. Men must learn to look to God alone for faith instead of self. Men must learn to look to God for believing hearts that they may believe. Despite using the same words, modern Calvinists (not all, but most) have joined with Arminians against free-grace. Regardless of what language is used, even when the language is biblical, when the content and meaning of what they are saying is not biblical, they are in great error.