According To The Scriptures
For almost two thousand years, the true followers of Jesus Christ have held the position that God's written Word, the Bible, must be the absolute and final authority for all faith and practice. Consequently, they have earnestly contended that there is but "one faith" (Ephesians 4:5) that can save, that being "the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3), that that faith is "the gift of God"--"not of yourselves"--"Not of works" (Ephesians 2:8-9), and that if "by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace" (Romans 11:6).
Exactly opposite are the New Age doctrines of pantheism which teach that God consists of all things and that man, being part of the universe, is part of God, possessing the ability to better himself and save himself, and collectively, to save each other. Satan has been preaching those doctrines to mankind ever since he deceived Eve with the promise, "ye shall be as gods" (Genesis 3:5).
The belief or faith of most religions, including most of so called "Christianity" falls somewhere in between these two positions with a general sliding toward the latter.
There can be no mixture of man's work with grace in the obtaining of salvation or else it is no more by grace. Romans 11:6 says, "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."
Many agree that salvation comes through repentance and faith alone, yet by the inference of their doctrine and teaching, repentance and faith are made out to be the works of man.
When God is portrayed as trying equally hard to save those who go to hell as those who go to heaven, yet is held at bay by man's stubborn free will, repentance and faith are made out to be man's works.
When Christ is portrayed as having died for every individual person in the world, while most are going to hell, repentance and faith are made out to be man's works.
When the Holy Spirit is portrayed as making equal effort to bring those to salvation who reject Christ and go to hell as to those who receive Christ, repentance and faith are made out to be man's works.
When "For God so loved the world" (John 3:16) and similar verses are interpreted as meaning every individual person in the world rather than "whosoever believeth in him" regardless of race or class, repentance and faith are made out to be man's works.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10)
It is important that we jealously guard against such error as that of a general atonement because it is the gospel message that is corrupted by such error. If the "gospel" we preach is to be "the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16) it must be as is twice specified in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, "according to the scriptures."
Let us consider the reason for Christ's death and what was accomplished by it. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Because God is just, all sin must be punished. Because God is holy, no one can be acceptable unto God unless all his sins are fully paid for. If God had not provided a plan of salvation, all who have sinned would be forever in hell paying on a debt that man can never pay. No one deserves salvation and God was not obligated to provide it, but because of God's love for all kinds of people, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, "he gave his only begotten Son" (John 3:16). According to Hebrews 9:12, "by his own blood," Jesus "obtained eternal redemption" for those He died for. In John 6:37-39 Jesus said:
"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day."
Ephesians 1:4-7 says that God:
". . . hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."
Christ did not merely provide a way for man to save himself by repentance and faith. Christ obtained eternal redemption for God's elect. By His death, Christ perfectly and completely satisfied the requirements of the justice and holiness of God. God will not allow someone to be punished in hell for sins that Christ has already paid for. By the causing of His Word to be preached and by the work of the Holy Spirit, God brings His elect to repentance and faith. Romans 10:14-15 says, "How can they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? . . ."
God has revealed the gospel in His written Word (the Bible), sends people to preach and declare it, but still it is rejected by the natural man because he is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1 and Colossians 2:13). In John 5:40 Jesus said, "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." In John 6:44 Jesus said, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." In John 6:65 Jesus said, "Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father."
One who is "dead in trespasses and sins" must be "quickened" (made alive) spiritually (Ephesians 2:1 and Colossians 2:13) by a new birth before he "can come" to Christ. In John 3:6-7 Jesus said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." After having been "born again" by God the Holy Spirit, a person can, and will readily, come to Christ in repentance and faith.
One's willingness to repent and one's faith in Christ are supplied ("given" John 6:65) by God. Acts 5:31 and Acts 11:18 show that God grants repentance. Romans 2:4 tells us that "the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance." 2 Timothy 2:25 shows that God gives "repentance to the acknowledging of the truth." Ephesians 2:8 declares that our "faith" is "not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."
It is because our salvation is God's work and "not of yourselves" that He can promise that it is "eternal" and "everlasting." If salvation were obtained by man's works it could be lost by man's works.
If God loves those who go to hell the same as He loves those who receive salvation, then God's love has nothing to do with salvation.
If Christ died for those who go to hell the same as He died for those who receive salvation, then Christ's death has nothing to do with salvation.
If the Holy Spirit works as hard to convict and draw those who go to hell as He works to convict and draw those who receive salvation, then the work of the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with salvation.
By eliminating the love of God the Father, the "redemption" that Christ "obtained" "by his own blood," and the quickening and effectual calling of the Holy Spirit from the plan of salvation, the doctrines of a general atonement dethrone God, exalt man and his free will, and declare that salvation is by works rather than by grace.
"For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)
"Salvation is of the LORD." (Jonah 2:9)
The doctrine of a general atonement is central and common to each of the various schemes of salvation by works that are taught by the various "Christian" denominations.
A "gospel" that degrades the work of Christ's sinless life, death, burial, and resurrection to that of a general atonement is "another gospel: Which is not another" (Galatians 1:6-7). A "gospel" that denies that by Christ's sinless life, death, burial, and resurrection He obtained eternal redemption for particular persons--those who God "hath chosen . . . in him, before the foundation of the world" and "predestinated . . . according to the good pleasure of his will" (Ephesians 1:3-12) is "another gospel." Such "another gospel" is only a continuation of that which Satan was preaching to Eve when he said, "ye shall be as gods" (Genesis 3:5). Such "another gospel" wherein God is decreased and man is increased is only a cunningly devised version of pantheism and a stepping stone and foundation for the one world religion that will flourish when "that man of sin be revealed" (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
"For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God" (2 Corinthians 3:5)
"For who maketh the to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" (1 Corinthians 4:7)
There are many rewards and blessings for the Lord's churches who declare the gospel "according to the scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) including Jesus' promise, "and , lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20). And, just as surely, there are grave consequences and condemnation for those who "pervert the gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-9).
When "another gospel" exalts man's free will above God's sovereignty, God is not glorified as God (Romans 1:21), "the truth of God" is "changed . . . into a lie," and "the creature" (man) is "worshipped and served . . . more than the Creator" (Romans 1:25).
When "another gospel" is preached, churches are likely to soon become filled with persons depending on a false salvation.
When "another gospel" is preached, occasion is given for the compromising and unionizing with other denominations. After all, isn't one man's works for salvation as good as another man's works for salvation?
God is not honored or pleased by a church that will "pervert the gospel of Christ" and preach "another gospel" (Galatians 1:6-7). Since baptism is an ordinance whereby a church pictures, or declares the gospel in "figure" or type (1 Peter 3:21), can God be pleased with a baptism administered by those who declare "another gospel"?
Can worship that involves rejecting and denying the truth and embracing "another gospel" be worship that is acceptable to God? In John 4:24 Jesus said that they that worship God "must worship him in spirit and in truth" [underlining added].
When a church fails or neglects to declare the gospel "according to the scriptures" she fails to "do the first works" (Revelation 2:5) as commissioned in Matthew 28:19-20 and eventually loses her identity in the eyes of God and man, being perceived as "pretty much like all the others." Jesus said:
"Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." (Revelation 2:5)
"He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:28-31)