Why I Remain Primitive Baptist

 

  

 

Why I Remain Primitive Baptist

 

Elder Jeff Winfrey, Pastor

Dawson Springs Primitive Baptist Church

101 East Walnut Street

Dawson Springs, KY 42408

 

 

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him… (1 Peter 2:9)

 

 

Opening Thoughts on 1 Peter 2:9 

As we are studying God’s word and come to a verse like this we just pause—and ponder—and say, “Wow!”  Just think about what you areYe are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.  Unless you are these things you are not saved.  Without being these things no man can be saved.  But the verse declares that you are these things.  Oh, the glorious thought of what we are as God’s children!  As the teachings of salvation unfold and you come to see that ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, your soul is lifted to great heights of rejoicing.  

But do not stop with the glorious thought that you are saved (although it might be worth stopping a while and just pondering that wonderful idea), for the words chosen generation, royal priesthood, holy nation and peculiar people do not stop with the notion that you are saved.  In the concepts expressed by the words chosen generation, royal priesthood, holy nation and peculiar people we can discover how we are saved, for in these words we find the basic fundamental doctrines associated with and essential to our salvation.  These words describe election, regeneration, glorification, justification and redemption.  Just to think of the ideas that are involved in the words, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, almost knocks a child of God off his feet.  So not only do the words tell you what you are, but they also describe the very concepts that are essential to making you what you are.  Thus we see in the verse that you are saved and we see how you are saved.  

Oh, but do not stop with the wonder that you are saved and do not even stop with the admiration of how you are saved, for the verse does not stop with what you are or even with how you are what you are.  It goes on to declare why you are what you are.  Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.  And the reason you are all these things is in order that ye should shew forth the praises of Him.  The grace that has made you what ye are calls for a response.  The idea that ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people requires that ye should shew forth the praises of Him.  

I believe in the words that ye should shew forth the praises of Him we find the ultimate purpose for the salvation of men.  In a very real sense men are saved for God’s sake and not for men’s sakes.  In other words the ultimate purpose in salvation is not just to get men to heaven so that they can enjoy the place forever.  Now it is true that the enjoyment of heaven is a part of salvation.  But the main reason for the salvation goes beyond the pleasure that men will receive in having salvation.  The highest purpose in salvation is to raise men to that salvation so that they will forever praise God for the salvation.  The ultimate reason that ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people is so that you would now and eternally forever shew forth the praises of Him who has made you what you are.  

Thus in the few words of our verse God declares that His children are saved.  You are all these things that pertain to your salvation.  He declares how His children are saved.  They are saved even by the concepts represented in the words chosen generation, royal priesthood, holy nation and peculiar people.  And God declares why His children are saved.  They are saved in order that they should shew forth the praises of Him.  To me it is utterly awesome that God can say so much in such a short statement!  

So in this one verse we find God’s amazing grace and man’s proper response.  In this simple statement we find the salvation of man and the reason for the salvation of man.  And as we continue to study and dig out the details of the complexities of the simple terms chosen generation, royal priesthood, holy nation and peculiar people, we hope to find much reason to praise God for His salvation of sinners.  So that by the end of our study, I hope that you not only understand that ye should shew forth the praises of Him, but beyond understanding that ye should, my desire is that the Holy Spirit will give you and me such an appreciation of our salvation that we would shew forth the praises of Him.  

 

 

Chosen Generation

Ye are a chosen generation.  Our first thought might be that the chosen generation is some special selected group of people limited to Peter’s day.  Just as we speak of the Pepsi® generation, or the baby-boomer generation, or grandma’s generation, we might assume that Peter was referring to his generation of time.  And it might seem reasonable to pursue this line of thinking and come to the conclusion that the people who lived in the days of the Apostles were truly a chosen and select special group that lived in a special generation, for they really did live in wonderful times.  

Or you could even expand the generation to what might be thought of as the ‘gospel generation’ or the time span since Christ and declare that people in our day are a part of a chosen generation.  And as we consider the revelation of truth in the gospel in our day, we do conclude that it is better to live in these times than in the times before Christ.  So the people of our entire era could truly be called a chosen generation.  

But even though it is true that to live in the days of Christ or in the era of the gospel is indeed a great blessing, is this really what the Holy Spirit is saying with the words chosen generation?  Well the whole idea sounds fairly reasonable and if we rush through these words without some diligent study this thought might become our conclusion.  But if this is what we conclude then I believe that we have very much missed the truth that is declared, because I do not believe that the word generation has any connection to what we have just described.  And I further believe that the words chosen and generation are actually describing two separate though closely related concepts. 

But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself.  The Holy Spirit used the sequence chosen generation.  So since chosen comes first let us study it first.  But before we delve into the study, an explanation about the way I study might be appropriate.  I find it very helpful when I study the Bible to look up key words in easy to use reference books.  I am certainly not a Greek scholar, but you do not have to be a scholar to do what I am about to describe.  You can look up a word such as chosen in Strong’s Concordance and quickly find a couple of important things that will help your understanding.  First of all, you can find all the places where chosen appears in the Bible.  And secondly you can find a reference number that will direct you to the proper place in the Greek/English dictionary in the back of the concordance so that you may determine the Greek word from which the word chosen was translated.  So with only a little effort we can quickly learn of several places where chosen appears and we can easily determine that it was translated from the Greek word eklektos.  

Furthermore, for even more information you can chase this thing a step further by looking up eklektos in an English/Greek concordance.  This allows you to determine all the places where eklektos and its derivatives appeared in the original language of the New Testament.  And by doing this you will further see that eklektos was not always translated chosen, for in many places the translators used the word elect instead of chosen.  All of this looking up words may at first sound somewhat complicated but it is really quite simple to do.  It just takes a little time.  But it is well worth the effort if it will help us know what God is saying to us in His word, for I have found that before I can understand God’s word I must understand the words in God’s word.  

So after a quick look into a couple of reference books we can find that the Holy Spirit through Peter has already used the word eklektos three times in the letter prior to the usage in our text.  Twice it is used in reference to Christ when He is called the chosen of God and a chief corner stone, elect, precious. (1 Peter 2:4-6)  And in reference to God’s children we find the words, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. (1 Peter 1:2)  So by the time we arrive at the use of the word eklektos in the words, ye are a chosen generation, we find that it is a concept that has already been repeatedly used.  And as we branch out to other places in the New Testament we find the Holy Spirit often moved the writers of the New Testament to use the word, eklektos.  But before we move to other writers let us consider a little further Peter’s amazing words elect according to the foreknowledge of God

What might it mean to be elect according to the foreknowledge of God?  Before we try to determine what it means lets see what it does not mean.  Many have pondered election and tried to explain the basis for God’s choice of particular men.  Some have rationalized that God in His infinite ability to see past, present and future looked ahead in time and saw who would be worthy in some way to be chosen by Him and then God chose according to what He saw.  There are perhaps two reasons why this way of thinking has become popular.  First of all, this explanation makes the whole idea seem fairer to most people.  And secondly, as with most of man’s explanations of God, there is a tendency to want to decrease God’s role and increase man’s role.  If we can base our salvation in ourselves then there is an accompanying thought of taking credit for our salvation that by nature feels good to man’s way of thinking.  But the biggest problem with the idea that God based election in what He through His ability to see the future would have known ahead of time is that this way of getting around the issue is not agreeable to scripture.  

Consider these words found in the midst of a passage concerning election.  (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.  As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. (Romans 9:11-13)  According to the passage the election was not of works.  It was of God.  It was not according to any foreseen good or evil in the individuals.  It was something done by God so that His purposes might be brought to pass.  So then it was not based in man or in the works of man.  Instead it was solely based in God.  It was of Him that calls. 

And further consider another passage that clearly teaches the basis for election.  According as he 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.  (Ephesians 1:4-6)  As in the previous text, this passage clearly states that the choosing and the predestinating are according to God’s will and pleasure.  So we again see that the basis is according to God and not man.  

But in addition to the clear statement of the basis, we need to consider that the text also states that the choosing and predestinating are to the praise of the glory of His grace.  By definition God’s grace is an undeserved and unmerited free gift.  This is important to consider because if God had chosen according to what He looked down through time and saw in the individual, then the text is wrong in declaring that we should praise God’s grace for election.  If God’s choosing is based in what God saw in the man then we might praise God’s ability to see the future.  Or we might praise God’s ability to look at the man and properly judge whether he deserved to be chosen.  But if election is based in something about the man that God saw and judged to be worthy, then God is wrong in telling us to praise His grace for choosing the man. 

Oh but election is not based in what God looked down through time and saw.  Election is not based in some choice the man made in his life.  Election is solely based in a choice God made before the world began.  Election is to the praise of the glory of his grace.  According to God’s good will and pleasure, and according to God’s amazing grace, God chose to save men and chose men to save before the foundation of the world.  It is truly an unmerited act of grace by God on which election is based.  And God is right in teaching us to praise Him for His free gift.  The scriptures and the clear logic behind the scriptures teach us that election is based in God’s free gift and is not based in any merit that God saw in the works of man. 

So we come back to the question, what does it mean to be elect according to the foreknowledge of God?  As we consider the foreknowledge of God we need to understand that there is a much deeper meaning to the thought than the idea of seeing and knowing the future.  In the Bible the concept of knowing oftentimes goes beyond an intellectual awareness to an intimate oneness.  We see this idea in the words, “And Adam knew his wife Eve; and she conceived, and bare Cain.” (Genesis 4:1)  So as Adam took Eve to himself and the two of them became one in intimate love, so God chose a people and took them to Himself in the oneness of an intimate love. 

More than to have knowledge of the elect, God had feeling for the elect.  It is beautiful to understand that God elected not just according to His observation; but He elected according to His affection.  God did more than identify the elect according to foresight.  God embraced the elect according to fondness.  God in election surpassed having the elect in His sight.  In a sense He held them in His arms.  More than a close watch, there was closeness.  Elect according to the foreknowledge of God implies much more than God being aware of a people and watching them.  It implies that God was in love with them and wedded them.  

Oh, it just thrills my soul to think of the beauty in the words elect according to the foreknowledge of God.  This is not a fairy tale about a prince and Cinderella.  This is eternal reality about the God of the universe and you.  This is love beyond the fantasy of imagination.  This is God Almighty loving you.  Let your mind ponder that God chose you according as He loved you.  Wow!!! 

As we further consider the concept wrapped up in the word chosen, let us look at what Jesus said to Ananias concerning Saul of Tarsus.  Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. (Acts 9:15)  The idea of election is incredibly brought to light in these words.  Of all people that might have been chosen could anyone have imagined that this Christian-killing sinner would be the one?  The apparent absurdity of the whole situation is the very reason why Jesus was conversing with Ananias.  To Ananias it seemed impossible that such a vile persecutor as Saul of Tarsus should ever be preached to.  So Jesus made a personal appearance to Ananias and assured him that Saul was a chosen one. 

Surely the truth of the idea that the choosing is not according to merit in the sinner is brought out in this pattern of Saul of Tarsus.  Was Saul chosen for his goodness?  No way.  The choosing of one such as Saul proves that election is not according to any goodness in man.  The choosing of any sinner by God proclaims the goodness, grace and mercy of that Holy God.  

If you are a real sinner who sees the vileness of sin and the holiness of God, then the idea that God loved and chose such sinners is almost unbelievable.  Now if you imagine that you are not a sinner and that you in some way deserve salvation, then the whole idea of election may be rather repulsive to you.  But if you see yourself as a hopeless sinner, then the thought that God might have loved you and chosen even you seems too good to be true.  Oh that sinful man would praise God for His mercy in that He would choose to choose sinners to eternal salvation.  What a thought is expressed in the words, ye are a chosen generation!  Imagine even you chosen by God!  And as I think that God wanted even me, and wanted me to the point of giving His Son for me, I am overwhelmed.  The thought that God chose me brings me to my knees and at the same time raises me to heights of glory.  Oh God’s electing and choosing a people is and forever shall be to the praise of the glory of His grace

Though much more perhaps should be said about chosen, let us now delve into the tremendous ideas expressed in the word generation.  I remind you that I do not believe that the word generation is here used as we most often use it.  It is not referencing some span of time and the people in that era.  And if we think of the word in this familiar way I believe that we will totally miss the glorious point that the Holy Spirit is teaching.  

So in order to see the meaning of the word as it is used in the passage let us again use our simple reference books.  When we look up generation in the concordance we find that it was translated from the Greek word genos.  And when we look up genos in an English/Greek dictionary we find only a few places where the Holy Spirit chose this word.  But I believe that much understanding of our text can be found if we pursue these few passages that contain the word genos in the Greek New Testament. 

First of all let us look at these words of Jesus.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind. (Matthew 13:47)  In this verse the word genos was translated into the word kind.  So we have our first clue that will help us understand the meaning of generation.  Sometimes genos can mean a particular kind as in every kind of fish that was in the net.  

And next we look at the following verse.  The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. (Mark 7:26)  In this verse the word genos was translated into the word nation.  So we further see that genos can sometimes be used to speak of a particular nation such as the nation to which this particular woman belonged. 

As we continue let us look at yet another place.  And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. (Acts 4:6)  Here we find genos translated into kindred.  So we learn that the word can mean a particular kind, or a particular nation, or a particular kindred or family.  

Now we come to a real key in our search for the meaning of the word generation.  Look at the following statement.  Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. (Acts 17:29)  In this one we find the word genos translated as the offspring of God.  Now we are really getting somewhere in our quest.  We have seen that genos may be a particular kind, or a particular nation, or a particular kindred or family.  But here we begin to see an amazing use of the word, for we do not have here just any offspring mentioned.  But we have a particular offspring, even the offspring of God. 

And for our final piece of the puzzle let us look at this one.   And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. (Acts 18:2)  The word genos is translated in this verse as born.  So if you were wondering how someone might become an offspring of God, I believe that you will find your answer here.  A person is born to it.  

Thus as we now see the ways that genos was translated we can begin to better understand the word generation, for I believe that the word generation includes ideas from all of these verses.  The ones considered in the word generation are God’s children, even the offspring of God.  And the way of becoming an offspring of God is to be born to the position.  Your natural birth made you an offspring of your natural father.  And when you have been spiritually born from above you are an offspring of God.  And in this generation you become a particular kind, even one after God’s kind.  And you become a part of a particular nation, even a holy nation.  And finally you become a member of a particular kindred, even the family of God.  

Thus ye are a chosen generation declares that you are a chosen offspring, chosen to be a particular kind in a particular nation and family.  And the way you became this offspring of God is by being born to it.  Oh the glorious thought of being chosen to be generated into the family of God and to be His offspring!  Oh the wonder of being made after His kind and to be part of a nation that will inhabit heaven!  I believe that the word generation declares a new realm of existence where you are a particular kind in a particular nation and family.  And I further believe that the word generation declares that you are a born again offspring of God.  Ye are a chosen generation.  You are an elect born again offspring of God. 

So I do not believe that the word generation in the verse is speaking of some particular people living in some particular time span.  Much more is involved here than a reference to particular people of a particular age.  This word generation declares a sovereign act of God whereby God’s children are spiritually born, becoming His offspring and becoming a part of His family, nation and kind.  So I believe that the two words chosen generation refer to two great concepts, election and regeneration.  But though there are two ideas in the words, it is clear from scriptures that the two concepts are closely related, for the ones who were chosen are the same ones who experience generation.  The very ones that God did choose and predestinate to eternal salvation are the ones that He calls by His life giving voice to be born again to that eternal life.  Consider the words:  Whom He did predestinate, them he also called. (Romans 8:30)  In these words we can see that the ones whom God chose to have eternal life are the same ones to whom He calls and gives the eternal life. 

As we begin to consider the close connection between election and regeneration let us look at the words of Jesus, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you. (John 15:16)  This is a very simple yet a very important statement.  In these words Jesus declared a fundamental truth concerning election and the basic truth is that the sinner does not begin his salvation by choosing Jesus.  Instead of the sinner choosing God and instigating salvation, Jesus declared that God instigated the salvation by choosing the sinner.  The whole thing starts with God.  We do not set our salvation into motion by choosing Jesus, for our salvation was begun long before we ever existed as expressed in the words, he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.  So if we ever in any sense choose Jesus that choice is at best a reactionary response to a chain of events that was set in motion before the foundation of the world when God chose us.  

Moreover, with further study of the truths given in God’s word it becomes clear that God’s choosing particular people to save is not simply the way that God chose to do it, but it is the only way that it could ever have been done.  We hope to soon prove beyond any doubt from the scriptures that an unregenerate sinner will not and cannot choose God.  And if this is the case then God had to go beyond simply choosing to save sinners and choosing to give His Son for the cause of saving sinners, for in addition to these things God had to choose particular sinners to be saved.  So the words of Jesus, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, not only describe the way that salvation is; they describe the way that salvation has to be.  

I suppose that most would agree that salvation is made possible because God chose to save.  If God had not chosen to save fallen sinners, then it seems reasonable that none would or could have been saved.  But people seem to have in mind that God chose to save mankind by generally offering himself to men.  At first this seems to be a very reasonable idea, but in truth such a plan of salvation as this would have been doomed to failure.  The problem with this scheme is that it requires an unregenerate man to choose God.  And if salvation hinges on a plan that requires unregenerate man to choose God, then in the end salvation will not have been accomplished.  The simple reason for this is that no unregenerate man in all of history has ever chosen God.  Nor will any unregenerate man from now to the end of time ever choose God.  

The teachings of scriptures do not allow the idea that a man in his fallen nature would ever choose God.  Think of what we are taught about the way the mind of a natural man thinks. According to God’s word the carnal mind and the sinful heart respond in very predictable ways.  The scriptures describe the feelings, the thoughts, the desires, and the lusts that are innate to a human being in this world of sin.  Now I do not have a lot of understanding in the field of psychology.  And I do not know a lot of things pertaining to the philosophies of this world.  But I am getting my information from the word of truth, God’s Bible.  I get my information about the nature of man from the God who can look into man and see what is really inside of him.  

So what does the God who looks into the depraved heart of man say concerning the condition of sinful man?  God who looks into the heart and the mind of man says in his word that the carnal mind is enmity against God: Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (Romans 8:7)  When God looks inside of a natural human being, He finds that sinful men are haters of God: Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents. (Romans 1:30)  When God looks inside of a fallen sinner He sees that there is no fear of God in there:  There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3:18)  Will this man who hates God willfully choose God?  Will a man choose to come to one that he considers his enemy?  Can there be any motivation to cause the man described here to choose the presence of the God for whom he has no fear or reverence?  

As we pursue this still further we find these words, The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God:  God is not in all his thoughts. (Psalms 10:4)  God who looks at the wickedness of man’s mind declares in His word that this wicked one because of pride will not seek after God.  Not only will he not seek after God, God is not in all his thoughts.  Wicked men refuse to think about God.  When God looks into the thoughts and minds of sinful, unregenerate humanity, He sees that man does not think about God.  No wonder carnal man does not fear God.  He never thinks about God to fear hHm.  God’s word describes a mind that will not seek God, or fear God, or even think about God.  Will this man with this mind ever choose God? 

So the natural man does not fear God.  He does not respect God.  He does not reverence God.  He does not seek God.  God is not in all of his thoughts.  And if you force the issue and bring up the thought of God to this mind you will find that the problem is more than a lack of interest in God.  The real problem is a deep hatred of God and a carnal enmity against God.  If you could see into that mind as God can, you would find that the very thought of God is a terrible thought.  The possibility of an all-powerful God is a horrifying idea to an unregenerate mind.  A wicked man does not wish to think of a God that has mighty power to destroy.  Again the question, will this man voluntarily choose to come to God? 

The teachings concerning fallen humanity continue with these words:  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)  The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God.  If you attempt to teach the natural man the things of the Spirit of God, the things of God’s book, the things of Christianity, he will have no part of it.  If you present to a natural man Christ on a cross, he will scoff at the whole idea.  He will not receive any such things.  Such things are foolishness to him.  Anything about God is foolishness.  Any concepts concerning the things of the Spirit of God are absurd.  What could motivate such a character to choose something so utterly ridiculous to his way of thinking?  

Now assuming the natural man to be as God’s word describes him to be, it becomes obvious that natural man’s mind must surely be a very foolish mind.  This natural man thinks that spiritual things are foolishness.  But the real truth is that his fallen mind is perhaps the most foolish thing of all.  If men’s natural minds were as wise as they think them to be, they surely would function differently.  Just from a logical and reasonable standpoint a mind would be most foolish to hate the God of the Bible.  It is a very foolish mind that would not fear the God that could speak the irreverent being into oblivion.  It is a foolish mind that would have thoughts of hate toward a God with the power to instantly destroy.  It is not in the mind’s best interest to act in such a way, yet in its lack of wisdom the natural mind innately hates the God it should reasonably worship.  

In similar fashion, it is a mind without feeling and reasoning that would hate a God of so much love as the real God of the Bible.  How could a reasonable mind hate the God who would send His Son to die for sinners?  Natural man who is so proud of his great and wonderful mind actually possesses a most foolish and unreasonable mind.  The nature of fallen man is such that he cannot discern wisdom from foolishness.  He will not choose survival over destruction.  He will not choose God over hell.  His mind is such that he loves to hate the God of love. 

So the natural man’s mind is foolish, even unreasonably foolish, concerning the things of God.  A reasonable mind should come to terms with God, but the natural mind will not.  It insists on hating God.  It remains at enmity against God.  It refuses to fear God.  It will not even think about God.  Why would a reasonable man not come to his senses?  How can an otherwise intelligent mind be so warped?  Again God’s word gives us further insight.  

The natural man thinks the way he does because he has been deceived.  And it is dreadful to know that he has even deceived himself into this unreasonable state of mind.  His depraved heart has deceived his depraved mind.  For concerning fallen man God’s word says:  The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked:  who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)  Natural man’s heart is as depraved as his mind is.  The hard heart even deceives the foolish mind into its continual unreasonable thinking.  The heart’s deep seeded feelings of hatred have so influenced the foolish mind as to cause it to continually function in a most unreasonable fashion.  Have you never seen a man so full of hate and rage that he cannot think straight?  Well so it is with unregenerate man concerning God.  Can it be imagined that the man with this full of rage heart and this foolish deceived mind will ever choose to come to God?  

Fallen man’s heart is so deceitful and so wicked that it cannot even know its own nature.  Men are very good at hiding their sins from each other and even from themselves.  When carnal man examines himself he does not see the depth of the problem.  He does not see himself as he really is.   He does not see what God sees.  The God who does see the minds and the hearts has declared the true makeup of the vile nature in unregenerate man.  But natural man continues to invent his psychology, and to concoct his philosophies, and to argue against the truth of his depravity.  With his foolish and deceived mind he continues to refuse to admit his vileness.  And with his inventiveness he continues to deceive even himself.  But God is not fooled.  God looks into the mind and the heart and sees things as they truly are.  

So it is a foolish and a deceived mind that would be at enmity against a being with as much power as God has.  And it is a foolish and a deceived mind that hates a being with as much love as God has.  Both God’s power to destroy and his love to save should be enough motivation to cause a person in his right mind to seek a peaceful relationship with that God.  But instead, the carnal mind chooses to be an enemy to the Almighty God of love.  Surely a man with a mind like this is going to need a lot of help if he is to be saved even from himself! 

We now come to a final and very enlightening statement concerning unregenerate man’s unwillingness to choose God.  Jesus said, And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. (John 5:40)  This is a very straightforward statement.  These words are not hard to understand, though they may be hard to accept.  What Jesus said with these words was that the minds of these natural men were so against God, that these doomed men would not come to Jesus.  And it was not just that they would not come to Jesus.  He said that they would not come to him even that they might have life.  They were unwilling to come to Him even if it meant that they might live forever.  

Surely these are words with great impact.  How dreadful the condition of a natural man must be!  To consider the warped thinking that exists in the mind of a hell bound sinner is almost unbelievable.  What a picture of the extent of depravity!  Just think of one who could hate Jesus so much that he would refuse to come to him for eternal life.  According to God’s word this is the exact state of mind of every individual in his natural way of thinking.  This is man’s case by nature.  This is God’s description of fallen men in a fallen world.  This is the natural state of humanity.  This is where we are, who we are, and how we think according to our innate nature. 

Fallen man has a free will.  But his free will is so warped by his nature that he will never of his own free will choose God.  Natural man will not come to Jesus because he does not have any will within his very nature to come to Jesus.  He has no desire to come to the one he hates.  He has no reason in his mind to seek out what is foolishness to him.  There is no motivation to approach and come to the one that he has so much enmity toward.  Nothing in the fallen nature of man can move the deep-seated ‘will not’ to say, “I will.”  Man by fallen nature is such a hater of God that he will not even act reasonably.  His hard and wicked heart has so deceived his foolish and hateful mind that he willfully refuses to come to the lovely Son of God that he might have life.  

Now this is what God’s word declares about man’s will.  God concerning man’s will comes to the conclusion that man’s will is really a ‘will not’.  Will man ever choose the God that God Himself says man will not choose?  If man of his own will does choose God then God is a liar, for God has declared of fallen man that he will not come.  The scriptures are clear that unregenerate man will not ever choose God.  Depravity in sinful man is such that man will never choose to come to God, not even that he might have eternal life.   

So it is seen from scriptures that no carnal man is going to choose to come to God.  No depraved man with an attitude toward God like the Bible describes will ever choose to come to Christ.  The fallen nature of man is such that it always leads the sinner to hate and reject God.  The carnal mind of man will not make the choice of eternal life with Christ.  If God does not choose this vile man and change him from what he is by nature he will ever be a hater of God.  And God is the only one in the universe who can change this vile nature in man.  

So since man will not choose to come to God, it is apparent that if the relationship is established God must choose to establish it.  And beyond choosing to establish the relationship with man in general, God must choose which men in particular He is going to initiate this relationship with.  The act of God in choosing which sinners He would choose to come to was the act of the election of God.  Salvation could not have been accomplished if God had not chosen to save.  And men are so vile by nature that salvation could never occur if God had not chosen particular unwilling men to come to with salvation.  Due to man’s unwillingness to choose God, God had to choose men if any were to be saved.   

Oh the wonder of the Biblical concept expressed by the word eklektos!  It is amazing to me that God chose to save sinners, because included in God’s choice to save sinners was His choice to give His precious, chosen, elect, Holy Son as the ransom for the sinners.  So we are amazed by the choices of God that were involved in the salvation of sinful men.  But though the choice to save and the choice to give His Son in order to save are amazing, they would have amounted to nothing unless God had also chosen particular people to save.  No sinners would have ever been saved without the idea expressed by the word eklektos.  What would have really been accomplished if God had chosen to save sinners and chosen to give His Son in order to do it and then stopped there?  What would have happened if God had gone that far and then waited for unregenerate sinners to come to Jesus?  I declare to you that if God had only chosen to save, and then chosen to give His Son, and then chosen to wait on the sinner to come, that none would have ever been saved for none would have ever chosen to come. Remember the words of Jesus, And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. (John 5:40)  

But to compound the problem the condition of natural man even goes beyond a lack of willingness to come.  The problem is even greater than a fallen will that is compelled to follow a fallen nature.  For even if man wanted to come, the Bible declares that he still cannot come.  So even if you in error imagine that man might want to do that which he by nature considers to be foolishness, or if you really believe that man would choose to befriend the one he so hates, then there is still an insurmountable problem with the idea that man can come to God.  For besides being unwilling to come, unregenerate man is unable to come to God.  If a natural man was to have the will to come, which he does not have, he still could not come to God.  The Bible is clear that by nature man will not come and by nature man cannot come.  

Well what could keep man from coming to God that he might have life?  You might assume that man is big enough to do whatever he wants to do.  Again let it be said that natural man has no ‘want to’.  But even if he were to find the ‘want to’, he still has no ‘can do’.  Even if unregenerate man were to will to do what is against his very nature and decide to come to God, the Bible repeatedly declares that man cannot come to God.  Let us go to several places in God’s word where it declares that a man according to his lack of abilities cannot come to God.  

First of all, a natural man cannot know God.  The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:  for they are foolishness to him:  neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)  We have used this verse to show the unwillingness of man to pursue that that is foolishness.  But now let us look at more than what man will not do.  Let us now look at the verse and see what man cannot do.  The verse is referring to a man in his natural state, a man without the Spirit of God in his heart, an unborn again man.  And the verse declares that unless God has entered a man through the work of the Holy Spirit at the time of the new birth, the man by nature cannot know anything concerning God.  In other words, a man must be made to be a spiritual creature before he can know spiritual things.  And without the Spirit of God in a man he cannot know God, he cannot know things about God, and he cannot discern or understand spiritual things.  So prior to God’s life giving work in regeneration the verse declares that a man cannot know any thing concerning God.  And thus the problem goes beyond a man not being willing to receive spiritual things because of the perceived foolishness of such things.  Beyond an unwillingness to receive, there is an inability to truly know anything concerning the God who is a Spirit.  

Thus it is not just that a man will not come to that which he sees as foolishness.  Truly the difficulty goes far beyond a problem of will.  There is an overwhelming inability in the natural man that prevents him from coming to God.  The natural man cannot come to the God of heaven, because he cannot know Him to come to Him.  And if natural man cannot know God, how can he be able to come to that which he cannot know?  He may come to something he has imagined in his mind.  He may come to something someone has carved out of stone.  He may come to some philosophy.  But he cannot come to the true God, because he cannot know the true God to come to Him.  There is no strength or ability in man that can enable him to approach unto the God that he cannot know.            

Secondly, the scriptures teach that a natural man cannot come to God’s kingdom, because he cannot see God’s kingdom to come to it.  Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)  The statement is a simple one.  Jesus’ words teach that a natural man, prior to or without the new birth, cannot see the kingdom of God.  The unborn again man has no visual image of God’s kingdom in his mind.  He has no awareness or understanding of such a thing.  He cannot see it to even know that it exists unless he has previously received the new birth.  So a natural man without the regeneration brought by the new birth cannot see the kingdom of God.  And it is only reasonable that a man cannot come to that which he has no awareness of.  

Thirdly, we find this follow-up statement made by Jesus to the above statement.  “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)  So in these words Jesus further says that a man cannot enter into this unseen kingdom without the new birth.  This second statement on the heels of the first seems to be a very reasonable statement.  It does seem to stand to reason that a man cannot consciously choose to enter into that which he has no consciousness of.  And I suppose that it would be logical to assume that if a man has no awareness of a kingdom he would likewise have no awareness of the King that dwells in that kingdom.  And I further suppose that if the man cannot enter the kingdom, then he likewise cannot approach unto its King who rules from that place.  So it is certain from Jesus’ statements that a man without the new birth cannot see or enter into the kingdom of God.  And it is reasonable to assume that a man without the new birth cannot see or come into the presence of the God of that kingdom.  

So thus far from the letter to the Corinthians we have learned that the natural man cannot come to the God that he cannot know.  And from Jesus’ words we have learned that the unborn again man cannot see and cannot enter the kingdom where that God is.  So from these two passages we have three statements teaching that a natural man cannot come to God.  But the evidence for this truth is only beginning.  

The fourth statement we would like to consider is this declaration.  There is none righteous, no not one:  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (Romans 3:10-11)  These are very straightforward statements concerning the condition of every human being in his fallen state of carnality.  There is none that is righteous.  There is none that understands.  There is none that seeks after God.  Why does no carnal man seek after God?  Again the answer lies in the lack of understanding in carnal man.  Man in his natural state cannot know God and cannot see God.  And if he cannot know God and if he cannot see God, it is obvious that he has no understanding about God.  So this is just one more place where the scriptures reinforce the same repeated truth.  No natural man ever comes seeking after God, because in his unrighteous fallen condition he cannot understand God, he cannot know God, and he cannot see God.   

In our sequence of Bible truths that teach that man by nature cannot come to God we now come to a fifth passage in God’s word.  In this passage Jesus first asked a question, “Why do ye not understand my speech?”  And then he gave the answer to his own question, “even because you cannot hear my word.” (John 8:43)  Now these men with natural ears heard the words of Jesus.  They were not naturally deaf.  Yet there was a real sense in which they could not hear His words.  They were unable to hear Jesus’ teachings in the true spiritual sense in which He spoke the words.  They had no higher heavenly hearing so that they could relate to divine heavenly teachings.  They had ears to hear natural things, but they had no spiritual ears by which to hear spiritual things.  These men had no spiritual ears, because they had never become spiritual creatures by the sovereign giving of the new birth.  “Why do you not understand my speech?”  The answer given by God himself, “even because you cannot hear my word.”  It is not just that they put their hands over their natural ears and in their rebellion refused to hear Jesus.  The problem is much greater than that.  These men had not been regenerated.  They did not have the new birth.  They had never become spiritually alive by the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit.  So these men did not have the spiritual ears that it takes to hear spiritual things.  They could not hear because they did not have all the parts, so to speak.  They did not have hearing ears for heaven’s words.  So the problem with these men went beyond refusing to hear.  Jesus plainly stated that they could not hear his word.  Beyond unwilling, they were unable.  So thus far we have natural men who cannot know, cannot see, cannot enter, cannot understand, and cannot hear.  Oh the chances of these men being able to come to God seems to grow less and less! 

For our sixth reason why natural men cannot come to God, let us consider these words, Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long does thou make us to doubt?  If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.  Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.  But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:24-27)  Here was a group of people that had seen His works.  His works included raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, causing the deaf to hear, and making the lame to walk.  The Word had spoken words to them.  Surely His words must have been convincing words.  They had seen God in action and they had heard words from the Word.  Yet they did not believe.  It is hard to imagine what could have prevented them from believing in Him.  It is difficult to fathom why they did not believe in Him.  Just by natural evidence it seems that they would have had no choice but to believe in Him.  Yet the words of Jesus declare that they believed not.  

Why did they not believe?  Jesus stated that they did not believe because they were not of His sheep.  Jesus is the great shepherd and He has many people that are often referred to as His sheep.  It is said in Matthew that Jesus shall save His people from their sins.  But these people that Jesus spoke to in this place were not a part of His people.  They were not of His sheep.  They were not in His flock.  They were not of His shall-be-saved people.  And not being His people, the Holy Spirit had never given to them the gift of the new birth.  These that Jesus spoke to in this place were similar to the ones that we previously discussed from the passage in the eighth chapter of John.  As those could not hear His words, neither could these hear Him.  And these that were not sheep, being unable to hear with spiritual understanding, were likewise unable to believe in that which they could not understand. 

So then, who can and will believe?  And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)  The ones that believed were the ones that had been ordained to eternal life.  The elect of God believed because it had been given to them to believe.  The sheep believed because they belonged to Christ and He had given them the ability to believe.  The ability to believe is God’s gift to his people.  Faith is a gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)  The ability to believe is given to the sheep at the new birth.  People do not believe and then get the Spirit in the new birth.  They receive the new birth and then they can believe.  Faith is the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)  It is given unto God’s people to believe. (Philippians 1:29)  The exceeding greatness of the working of God’s power toward one that now believes is according to the same power that God worked when He raised Christ from the dead. (Ephesians 1:19-20)  

So unless God first gives the ability to believe, the scriptures are clear that a man cannot believe.  Those ordained to eternal life believed.  Born again sheep believed.  The sheep that had been born again and given spiritual life believed.  But these men that Jesus was addressing could not believe because they were not among the elect sheep and had not received the gift of faith.  These that Jesus spoke to did not believe because they could not believe.  Thus the list grows.  Natural man cannot know, cannot see, cannot enter, cannot understand, cannot hear, and cannot believe.  And it is becoming more and more apparent that a natural man with so many inabilities cannot of his own ability come to God.  

As we continue to our seventh consideration of man’s inability to come to God, we find another passage that speaks of those who cannot believe.  But in addition to being unable to believe, these were unable to be converted. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:  that the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report?  And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?  Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. (John 12:37-40)  Here is again this amazing thought that though He had done such phenomenal things, they still did not believe.  This passage occurs after the account of the raising of Lazarus from the dead.  It is truly hard to believe that they did not believe.  But they did not believe.  God’s word says that they did not believe.  Though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him.  What foolish minds natural men have! 

Isaiah had asked the questions, Lord, who hath believed our report?  And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?  Much truth can be seen in those two questions from Isaiah.  Who has believed our report?  Who believes the good news of the gospel?  Who believes the story of Jesus Christ?  Who hath believed our report and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?  It seems that the answer to the first question is given in the second.  The ones to whom God reveals himself are the ones who believe.  The ones in whom God dwells and reveals Himself to after the giving of the new birth are the ones who can believe.  The ones that are born of God and taught of God are the ones who can believe.  The ones who have the fruit of the Spirit after being born of the Spirit are the ones who can believe.  But many in this passage did not believe.  Though they had seen so much they still did not believe.  And the saying of Isaiah the prophet was fulfilled. They could not believe because that Isaiah said unto them, He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts that they should not see with their eyes nor understand with their heart and be converted and I should heal them.   

There is a key point of additional truth in these words.  Not only could they not believe, the passage declares that they could not be converted where they might believe.  Without the divine intervention of God by the life giving new birth they were unbelievers and unchangeable unbelievers.  So one more can be added to our list.  Natural man cannot know, cannot see, cannot enter, cannot understand, cannot hear, cannot believe and cannot be converted.  So do you suppose there is any way such a character as this can come to God?  It sure seems like an open and shut case that he cannot come.  But there is yet further evidence. 

For an eighth point, we can yet see another ‘cannot’ from God’s word that leaves man in a very difficult case.  The Bible declares:  But without faith it is impossible to please him. (Hebrews 11:6)  In other words, without belief in God man cannot please God.  At first this may seem simple to solve.  If it takes belief in God to please God, then man needs to simply believe in God and cause God to be pleased.  But it has already been shown that natural man cannot believe in God. So we have a seemingly unsolvable problem when we connect these two truths.  Man has to believe in God in order to please God.  But man cannot believe in God in order to please God.  So since it takes belief in God to please God, and since no natural man can believe in God, it stands to reason that it is impossible for natural man to please God.  

To many people this is an insurmountable problem.  It seems that man in his quest to understand salvation is searching for something that would please God and thereby persuade God to give eternal life to man.  Upon realizing that man’s failure to keep God’s law has greatly displeased God, many people have decided that the one thing that would now please God is belief in His Son.  And so they base everything in salvation upon natural man believing in Jesus and thereby pleasing God.  They seem to think that a man-initiated belief will please God to the extent that He will give the new birth to any that please Him in this fashion.  Now it is true that faith pleases God.  And those who say that faith is something that pleases God are absolutely correct.  The Bible clearly states this to be the case.  But you need to remember that we are talking about the condition of natural man prior to the new birth and the gift of faith that comes with the new birth.  Moreover, the condition of natural man is a condition of unbelief and even a condition of being in a state where he cannot believe.  But even though we have seen that natural man cannot believe, many will still proclaim that faith in Christ is the secret to man’s coming to God.  Even in the face of such teachings that man cannot know, cannot see, cannot enter, cannot understand, cannot hear, cannot believe, cannot be converted, many will still declare that faith is the first-move factor that allows one to come to God and please Him.  Let us hear the scriptures and not our self-devised schemes whereby we claim to be able to do that which the Bible labels as impossible. 

For our ninth ‘cannot’ we go to the Peter’s writings.  Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin. (2 Peter 2:14)  This verse and so many other scriptures speak of the sinfulness of fallen man.  Paul declared that there is none righteous and that there is none that doeth good. (Romans 3:10-12)  James declared, for whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10)   John declared, if we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)  Thus if anyone thinks that the way to come to God is to become sinless they are up against these and many other passages that declare the sinfulness of man.  And not only is the sinfulness of man declared, the depth of the problem is that man cannot cease from sin.    

At least these nine places in scripture declare that in various and sundry ways unregenerate man lacks the ability to come to God.  Natural man cannot know, cannot see, cannot enter, cannot understand, cannot hear, cannot believe, cannot be converted, cannot please God, and cannot cease from sin.  But perhaps more powerful than any of these truths is this tenth statement, a direct statement by Jesus concerning the issue.  So finally be reminded of the words of Christ.  No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him. (John 6:44)  This is a very simple and straightforward statement of truth.  It is not that this truth is hard to understand.  It is just hard to swallow.  The idea that natural man will not come to God is difficult to accept.  And the statement that man cannot come to God is equally hard to accept.  But the truth is simple.  Jesus said that man could not come to Jesus.  So our list is such that natural man cannot know, cannot see, cannot enter, cannot understand, cannot hear, cannot believe, cannot be converted, cannot please God, cannot cease from sin, and cannot come to Christ. 

And just in case you think you might do something to change all your ‘cannots’ let us go to an eleventh place and find one more thing you cannot do.  A ‘cannot’ cannot become a ‘can’.  Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. (Jeremiah 13:23)  By nature you are what you are.  I am what I am.  Man is what man is.  Just as the Ethiopian is what he is, natural man is what he is.  Just as the leopard is what it is, so natural man is what he is.  Natural man that is so accustomed to do evil cannot do good.  A ‘cannot-do-good’ man does not have in his nature what it takes to be a ‘can-do-good’ man.  There is none righteous, no not one.  Those who are accustomed to doing evil, cannot do good.  Carnal man cannot do good and he cannot change the ‘cannot-do-good’ that is within him.  He cannot change his case.  

So the condition of man can be summed up.  His mind is alienated against God.  He generally refuses to have any thoughts concerning God.  He has no fear of God.  And if you pushed him into telling the truth he confesses that he is a hater of God.  Things of God are foolishness to him.  And he has no will or desire to come to Christ that he might have life.  So he will not come because of his mindset in the natural realm.  Yet if for some unexplainable reason this man were to will to do what he would never do and decide to come to Christ, then he still cannot come.  He cannot come because the natural man cannot know, cannot see, cannot enter, cannot understand, cannot hear, cannot believe, cannot be converted, cannot please God, cannot cease from sin, and as Jesus plainly said cannot come.  And besides all of this, the natural man is what he is and he cannot change from what he is.  This is the condition of man. 

And now I ask the question as we continue to talk about the condition of man, “How dead is dead?”  And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1)  In this condition of being in trespasses and sins, natural man is said to be dead.  He is not naturally dead.  He is spiritually dead.  Yes, the condition of natural man is described in God’s word as a condition of deadness to spiritual things.  So it is truly no wonder that natural man cannot do so many spiritual things.  And it is very much within reason that natural man will not do spiritual things.  The reason for this spiritually dead man’s lack of spiritual ‘can do’ and spiritual ‘want to’ is that he is dead to the whole realm of spiritual existence.  And since natural man is spiritually dead, the scriptures continually declare that he is incapable of taking any spiritual action or agreeing to anything spiritual.  

So it is no wonder that natural man cannot come to Christ.  To come to Christ is a spiritual action and the natural man is dead to spiritual things.  And it is no wonder that natural man will not come to Christ.  To have the will to do something in the spiritual realm would first require spiritual life.  And likewise it is no wonder that the natural man cannot see, or believe, or know, or understand, or be converted.  All these things would have to be done by one who was alive and the natural man is dead in trespasses and sins.  He is dead to spiritual things.  In his deadness natural man has no capacity to function in the spiritual realm.  He cannot do spiritual things.  He cannot think spiritual thoughts.  He cannot take spiritual actions.  He cannot make spiritual choices.  He is totally nonfunctional in things pertaining to the Spirit.  

Well how can one quit being dead and become alive?  Now that is a hard question.  It is even an impossible question.  How dead is dead?  Dead men cannot decide to become alive.  They cannot take any action that would cause them to live.  They cannot think anything that would give them life.  But what the dead man cannot do, the living God can do.  The verse says that God has quickened men who were dead.  To quicken is to make alive.  Only God can bring the dead to life.  Only God can quicken the dead.  But remember that before the life giving quickening that comes from God, the condition of man was the condition of spiritual deadness.  And in that deadness natural man does not want anything in the realm that he is dead to.  He does not see anything in the realm that he is dead to.  He does not come desiring anything in the realm he is dead to.  He cannot; he will not; he thinks not; he does not.  And why is this the case?  Because dead is dead!  

So natural man will not come and he cannot come and in his spiritual deadness he is stuck right where he is.  And what makes it worse is that natural man does not care that he is stuck in a condition without God.  It suits his nature just fine to be without the God that he hates.  Now then, let me ask you something as we think about the proposal that many throw out at some point in their plan.  Do you think that there are any in their natural mind that come to God?  Some preachers will say that all you have to do is take that first step.  They preach that all you have to do is to make that initial move in the direction of God. 

And now you might ask me if I think that nobody has ever come to Christ.  I am not saying that nobody has ever come to Christ.  But I am saying that nobody has ever come to Christ unless the Father first drew that particular ‘nobody’ to Christ.  Oh there are plenty that have come. Countless multitudes have come to Christ.   There are many who have heard.  There are many who have seen.  There are many who have entered.  There are many who know Christ.  There are many who at least to a point understand spiritual things.  There are many who can and do believe.  There are many who have been converted.  There are many worshippers who please God with their faith.  There are many who have been changed from what they were by nature.  But there is not one who has made the change according to his innate abilities.  There is not anyone who has come being led by his natural will.  There is not a single case of one who has ever raised himself from a condition of spiritual deadness to a possession of spiritual life.  There is no one who of his nature has had the ‘want to’ or the ‘can do’ necessary to come to Christ.   Now once God quickens, you are alive.  And once alive much ‘can do’ and ‘want to’ begins to surface that never was possible before.  But there has never been a ‘cannot’ who suddenly mustered up what it would have taken to become a ‘can’. 

So if there is any action taken, God must be the one to take the action.  No man can come of his own ability or will, but the Father can draw any one He chooses.  No man can raise himself from the dead, but God can quicken whom He pleases.  The access to Jesus is not denied.  It is just limited by the will and the power of the Father.  If anyone ever comes he comes by the will and choice of God.  And if anyone ever comes he comes by the drawing power that comes from God.  If anyone ever comes he comes by the new birth that comes by the will and power of God.  

And there has yet to be a man who ever chose to be born whether naturally or spiritually.  Somebody higher than the one born made choices that brought about his natural birth.  And somebody higher than the man born spiritually made choices that brought about the spiritual birth.  Man does not choose God.  God chooses man.  Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you. (John 15:16)  So if God acts upon a particular individual in time by giving the individual the new birth, then surely it is because He at some time chose to act on that individual.  The choosing of that particular individual whom He would later act upon is election.  And the acting upon that individual of choice is generation. 

Along the same lines another question might be asked, “How non-existent is creation before it is created?”  In addition to using the analogy of quickening the dead or resurrecting to life that which was dead to the spiritual realm, the Bible describes the giving of spiritual life to a sinner as a Godly work that causes the sinner to become a new creature.  The giving of spiritual life is said to be the making of a new creature.  The worked upon individual is described as being a new creature.  This new creature is said to be God’s workmanship created unto good works.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)   

How much do you suppose Adam could do before he was created?  How much did he know before he existed?  How much did he think?  How much did he see?  How far did he come?  How much ‘want to’ did he have before he was?  

Now think about a spiritual man who is described as having been created in Christ Jesus.  That spiritual man is you, child of God.  You are that new spiritual creature.  As Adam was God’s workmanship in the natural realm, you are God’s workmanship in the spiritual realm.  The Bible describes you as a newly created spiritual being.  How much do you suppose you could do in the spiritual realm before you were created into that realm?  How much did you know in that realm before you existed in that realm?  How much did you think in the thoughts of that realm before you were made to be in that realm?  How much did you see in that realm before you were in that realm?  How far did you spiritually come before you were spiritually created?  How much spiritual ‘want to’ did you have before you were created to be a spiritual creature?  Do you see what is taught by the comparison of the giving of spiritual life to a new creation?  A creature is non-existent and is totally nonfunctional until it is created.  As this is true in the natural, it surely is true in the spiritual.  

So the previous analogy of a quickening of the dead and the present analogy of a new creature both show the passiveness of the human recipient in the matter.  As there is no natural will or action in the state of natural deadness, there is no spiritual will or action in the state of spiritual deadness.  And as there is no natural will or action in a pre-creation non-existence, so there is no spiritual will or action in the pre-spiritual-creation state of non-existence prior to being created as a spiritual creature in Christ Jesus.  Prior to becoming alive to a realm or being created in a realm, one can have no thoughts or actions in that realm.  In the state of deadness or in the state of non-existence, no thoughts or actions are possible.  First you are quickened to life by the power of God; then you can think, see, hear, believe, come and worship.  First you come into a state of existence by the power of God; then you think, see, hear, come and worship.  First God gives spiritual life; then comes spiritual action.  You see the analogies of a resurrection of the dead and a creation of something from nothing are both perfect analogies for the purpose of teaching that there is no ‘want to’ or ‘can do’ or ‘coming to’ in the realm of spiritual things until you first have been given spiritual life. 

And furthermore concerning the same subject the Bible describes the event of an individual receiving spiritual life as a new birth.  I ask you in your mind to think back to your natural birth though none of us truly have any recollection of the event.  What did you do before you were born?  Were you a deep thinker prior to your birth?  Did you cooperate in anybody’s plans?  Did you agree to any propositions?  Did you give your OK to your own birth?  Did you have a vote in the matter?  Did you come asking to be born?  Could you have refused to be born at the time you were born?  

Referencing the new birth Jesus said that except you are born again, you cannot see.  That statement is really not difficult to understand.  It is truly a very reasonable statement.  Surely Jesus had things in the right order.  First of all if Jesus said it that makes it right.  And secondly it only makes sense that birth precedes sight.  But there are many who seem to think that the sequence is to see the things of God and then be born again.  Naturally speaking you did not see before you were born.  You began to see after you were born.  In the spiritual realm it is exactly the same.  Whether natural or spiritual, except you are already born you cannot see.  

Which comes first, life or sight?  Naturally did you first see and then become alive?  No you first had life and through being alive you were able to see.  It is the same spiritually.  Except you first are born again you cannot see.  Except you first have life, you cannot do the things that come with having life.  First you have life; then you see, and think, and understand, and do.  First you have life; then you live your life in the realm that you have it in.  

What did you do before you were you?  Before you were you, you could not do.  Why could you not do before you were you?  The answer is so simple as we think of natural life.  The reason you could not do before you were you is simply that you were not yet you.  This is so elementary when we think of the natural realm that it seems like foolishness to say such things.  But what is so true and so easily understood in the natural realm is so misunderstood in the spiritual realm, for as these things are true to the natural they are likewise true to the spiritual.  In either realm you did not do the things that pertain to life before you had life.  

You did not come to have life by asking for it.  You did not cooperate in some plan in order to be born.  You did not cause your natural birth or your new birth.  You did not OK either birth and neither could you have prevented either birth.  As in the natural so it is in the spiritual.  You were born naturally because of the actions of your earthly father who existed prior to you and acted in a way that brought you to be born.  You were likewise born spiritually because of an action of your heavenly Father who existed prior to you and acted in a way that brought you to be born.  And in any realm of life, being alive precedes any ‘want to’ or ‘can do’ or ‘coming to’. 

Oh, I want you to see that it is the Father’s choice to give spiritual life and thereby to draw an individual to Christ.  And you hopefully can see that if the drawing is to be done, the Father has to initiate the event on some individual somewhere.  And surely you can see by the scriptures that none in his natural condition of spiritual deadness and sinful foolishness will ever choose to come to God.  So since no one will choose God, then God must do the choosing.  Yes, God has chosen a vast host of people and by His grace generates them to a realm of spiritual life.  They are born to become the offspring of God.  They are made to be a particular kind.  They become members of a particular nation and family.  They are chosen generation.  And it is all by grace that ye are a chosen generation.  

So may we be reminded that the scriptures not only declare that God chose to save and chose to give His Son in order to save, but they also declare that God chose whom to save.  And with a study of the truths given in God’s word it becomes clear that God’s choosing particular people to save is not simply the way that God chose to do it, but it is the only way that it could ever have been done because an unregenerate sinner will not and cannot choose God.  And if this is the case then God had to go beyond simply choosing to save sinners and choosing to give His Son for the cause of saving sinners, for in addition to these things God had to choose particular sinners to be saved.  So the words of Jesus, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, not only describe the way that salvation is; they describe the way that salvation has to be.  

May we never cease to be amazed by the grace of a God that would choose sinners to be saved.  And may we further always acknowledge that God must have chosen particular sinners to save, for we have come to understand that if God had not chosen us we would have never chosen Him.  And I hope that we understand that the only way anyone can come to Jesus is if God draws him to Jesus.  And the ones God draws to Jesus are the ones He chooses to draw to Jesus.  And the ones God chooses to draw to Jesus are the ones He chose before the foundation of the world.  Oh, that we might even know that any positive response that we have toward Jesus is to the praise of the glory of God’s grace, for the scriptures teach us that if we ever choose to follow Him that even that choice that we make toward Him was made possible by the fact that He had already chosen us.  

Perhaps the words of the songwriter say it better than all my ramblings.  Meditate upon these profound words by Josiah Conder. 

My Lord I did not choose You,

for that could never be;

My heart would still refuse You,

had you not chosen me.

You took the sin that stained me,

You cleansed me, made me new;

Of old You have ordained me,

that I should live in You. 

Unless Your grace had found me

and taught my opening mind,

The world would have enthralled me;

to heavenly glories blind.

My heart knows none above You,

for Your rich grace I thirst;

I know that if I love You,

You must have loved me first. 

 

 

Royal Priesthood, Holy Nation,

Peculiar People 

And now let us come to the glorious words a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.  Before the foundation of the world God according to His own purpose and grace chose people to be His children.  And at some point in their lives each of those that had been chosen are generated or born by the power of God from a state of spiritual deadness to the realm of spiritual life.  Ye are a chosen generation.  But in addition to being chosen and generated you are declared to be a royal priesthood, an holy nation and a peculiar people.  

The fact that God would choose sinners to save is amazing and at the same time humbling, for the idea that God has always loved me and wanted me is indeed overwhelming to me.  The fact that God would generate spiritually dead sinners by indwelling them with the Holy Spirit is still more amazing and even more humbling, for the thought of the God that dwells in the glory of heaven being willing to live in my heart is almost more than I can take in.  

But the things that are involved in the words royal priesthood, holy nation, and peculiar people surpass anything in the entirety of history.  There is nothing more amazing than what it took to make you to be these things, for these are the things that were accomplished by Jesus on the cross.  If the idea that God chose me is humbling and the thought that God chooses to dwell in me is even more humbling, what words can describe the moment in history where God would choose to die for me?  Surely the most amazing thing about the God who is most amazing is the death of Jesus on the cross.  And surely of all things about God that would bring us to our knees, the cross is the thing that would overwhelm us, convict us and humble us the most.  

But before we consider the wonders in the words royal priesthood, holy nation and peculiar people let us take notice that Peter has tied two Old Testament passages together in the words we are studying.  First of all he seems to reference the words of Isaiah with the words chosen generation…that ye should shew forth the praises of him.  Look at the similarity of these words of Peter to the following penned by Isaiah:  The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls:  because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.  This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise. (Isaiah 43:20-21)  Notice the words my people, my chosen and then consider the words this people have I formed for myself.  Surely these are the same thoughts that Peter expresses with chosen generation.  God has a chosen people that He generates or forms for a purpose.  And what is that purpose?  Isaiah said that they shall shew forth my praise.  Peter said that ye should shew forth the praises of him.  So part of Peter’s teachings can be traced to the writings of Isaiah. 

But the thoughts expressed in the words royal priesthood, holy nation and peculiar people are not found in the words of Isaiah.  Instead they are seen in the words of Moses.  Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:  And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:5-6)  Where Moses said kingdom of priests, Peter said royal priesthood.  Both writers used the words an holy nation.  And where Moses said a peculiar treasure unto me above all people, Peter simply said a peculiar people.  But it seems fairly obvious to me that Peter is referencing this passage from Moses as well as the previous passage from Isaiah. 

(It is noteworthy in passing to mention the wonder of the inspired scriptures.  The whole Bible is the work of the Holy Spirit and ties together more perfectly than we are ever able to really appreciate.  The same Holy Spirit that inspired Moses to write the words he wrote, also inspired Isaiah to write the words he wrote, and further inspired Peter to write the words he wrote.  Now without the words of Peter the words of Moses and Isaiah might seem to be totally disconnected.  But with the words of Peter the connection of the apparently dissimilar passages are brought together and are given a deeper meaning than either could have had in standing alone.  Oh the wonder of the depths of the teachings of God’s words.  Oh how tremendous it would be to have the mind to really be able to see all the interconnections of the words of scripture.  Perhaps in eternity we will be able to grasp the single message of scripture and be able to see how it all ties together with one message of praise to God.  But though my present understanding is so limited I sure am thankful for what little bit of understanding God has blessed me to have now.) 

Now let us think on what Moses said contrasted to what Peter said.  Look closely at what Moses said:  if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be.  There is no reasonable way around the idea that the whole thing is a proposition to the people.  If they do, then they shall be.  What could they be if they were obedient?  They could be a peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.  Moses wrote these words just prior to penning the Ten Commandments and the words of Moses are definitely a proposition to the people.  But did anybody ever keep those Ten Commandments?  

No one ever has kept the Law of Moses.  Listen to these words of Paul:  for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Romans 3:9-12)  And then consider these words:  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:19-20) 

According to these passages and many others that could be cited it is certain that no one has ever kept the law.  No one has ever fulfilled his end of the proposition.  Remember the proposition:  If you do, then you will be.  But no one has ever kept the law.  Thus according to the proposition no people ever became a peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priest, and an holy nation.  So since the law was always broken and never kept no one was ever able to become these things by the law.  And instead of the law bringing these things, it brought the proof that men were not these things.  The law stops every mouth.  The law proves the whole world to be guilty.  The law gives the knowledge of sin.  The law declares to us that we did not keep our end of the proposition.  We never kept the “if” part, so by the law we can never be the “then” part.  

But look at the glorious words of Peter!  Peter declares in no uncertain terms, Ye are a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.  How are we now that which we could not be?  It is surely not by our keeping our end of the proposition.  The wonderful fact that ye are a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people has nothing to do with what you did.  Instead it has everything to do with what Christ did for you.  Thanks to His sacrifice you are what you never would have been.  Thanks to His work on the cross you are what you never could have been.  If it had been left to the proposition, if you do then you will be, you would have never been.  But the glorious truth is that ye are even that royal priesthood, that holy nation, that peculiar people.  And the reason you are these things is not because of what you did.  You are these things in spite of what you did and because of what your Savior did.  Oh the glory of the cross!  Oh the wonder of what Jesus did for us!  What an amazing God!  How it should bring us to fall on our faces before Him! 

Just think of the words royal priesthood.  Now those are glorious words.  Surely they cannot describe one such as me.  These are special words.  To be a royal one is to be a kingly one.  This is someone with a position of great status.  To be a priest is to be able to go into the presence of God.  Surely these words cannot describe a sinner like me.  How can it be said of one not worthy to have the status of servant and unfit to approach unto a Holy God that ye are a royal priesthood?  Though we may not understand how we could ever be these things, we sure like to be told that we are these things.  And I believe that the scriptures truly declare that we are these glorious things by the glory that Christ bestows upon us.  We are told that we will one day awake with thy likeness. (Psalm 17:15)  We are told that we will be conformed to the image of his Son. (Romans 8:29)   We are told that we shall bear the image of the heavenly. (1 Corinthians 15:49)  We are told that Jesus Christ shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body. (Philippians 3:21)   

Now I do not desire to take away any glory that is due to our King Jesus.  When we get to heaven we will not be gods.  When we get to heaven there will be one King of kings.  In heaven there is one Great High Priest, even that one and glorious priest after the order of Melchisedec.  But the words of John are these:  Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father. (Revelation 1:5-6)  I do not begin to understand how these things can be, but we are told that we are a royal priesthood.  And though I do not understand it I sure like the sound of it.  

Oh the wonder of what Christ accomplished in our behalf.  Whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)  And ye are a royal priesthood.  You have been made to be kings and priests unto God and his Father.  At the risk of sounding blasphemous I admit that it is hard to imagine how even the blood of Christ could accomplish such a thing.  I do not ever want to say anything that would seem to diminish the great power in His sacrifice.  But I still am awed that He could do so much for me as to bring me to a state where I could be looked upon by a Holy God as one with the status of royal priesthood.  Oh what glory there is in the glorious act of Jesus that could make one such as me to be something in His image and with His likeness!  To take my vile body and fashion it to be eternally like His glorious body is a blessing far too great for me to ever understand. 

And as if it is not enough to have it said that ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, the words continue with the declaration that ye are an holy nation.  And if you were amazed by the thought of being a royal priesthood, you can perhaps be even more shocked by the proclamation that ye are an holy nation.  But the scriptures say that this is the end to which you were chosen.  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. (Ephesians 1:4)  

And if you want to truly be awestruck consider the following:  And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. (Colossians 1:21-22)  How can it possibly be said that vile sinners cannot be blamed even in the sight of God?  How could we ever be without blame before Him?  How could God ever look upon sinners and not reprove their wicked deeds? 

 And above these things, how can we be declared holy?  Holy is a huge word.  It has been said by men in their weak ways of describing God that if there is an attribute of God that is above all others, it is the holiness of God.  I do not even understand the immensity of the word holy.  How can it be said that I am such a thing?  

If you were to ask my wife if I am without blame, she could with all truth and with much evidence show you that there are many things in my past for which I could be blamed.  She could likewise tell you things for which I should be reproved.  And most of all in all truth she could declare that I am far from holy.  

But in the realm of eternal truth God who is truth looks at blood-washed sinners and declares the words of truth:  Ye are an holy nation.  When God judges the ones Jesus died for He declares them to be holy, unblameble and unreproveable in His sight.  And it is not that the eyes of God cannot see what the eyes of my wife can see.  It is that in some unexplainable way the blood of Jesus was able to wash the sins away and cleanse the sinner in such a perfect way that now in the courtroom of God there are no sins left for which to be blamed or reproved.  Instead of sins to our account there is only the imputed righteousness of Christ by which we are declared holy.  

And as this declared holiness is the very concept of justification, we again pen the words:  Whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)  The ones who are an holy nation are the same ones who are a royal priesthood.  The ones who are justified or declared to be righteous and holy are the same ones who are glorified and given the status of kings and priests unto God and His Father.  

(And by the way the ones that are the chosen are the same ones that receive the generation by the effectual calling of God that results in the new birth.  Whom he did predestinate, them he also called. (Romans 8:30)  And the ones that receive the generation by the call of God unto the new birth are the same ones who are an holy nationWhom he did called, them he also justified. (Romans 8:30) And though it has been said before, let it be again declared that the ones who are an holy nation are the same ones who are a royal priesthoodWhom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)  So we can again note that the Holy Spirit is consistent in the inspiration of the scriptures, for we see that Paul taught the same things that Peter taught.  And furthermore we can note that God is consistent in His plan of salvation.  The ones He chose to save before the world began are the same ones for whom he continues the steps involved in salvation and they will be the same ones who eventually will be brought to the glorious end.)  

And we finally come to the words ye are a peculiar people.  For us to understand these words we need to do a little word study.  It seems that the word peculiar is not now used in the same way as it was in the year 1611 when the King James Bible was translated.  For the Greek word here translated does not have the present common meaning that we associate with the word peculiar.  It does not mean odd or unusual.  And though places in the Bible teach that God’s people are to live differently from the ways of the world, this is not one of those places.  And though the world might declare that God’s people are a strange and eccentric people, this verse has nothing to do with such things.  

The Greek word peripoiesis here translated peculiar means an acquisition received by purchase.  The point here is far from the idea that God’s people are some kind of strange people.  The declaration here is that God’s people are a purchased and obtained people.  God has acquired His people through the means of purchasing them.  Oh, I hope that you are beginning to see some glorious things about the words ye are a peculiar people.  You are a purchased people.  

And it is not with silver and gold that you are purchased.  Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Peter 1:18-19)  And it was not with the blood of animal sacrifices that you are purchased.  Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (Hebrews 9:12)   

As the above verses declare you were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ and by His own blood he obtained eternal redemption.  In those two passages we have everything that is meant by the Greek word peripoiesis To redeem is to buy back or to purchase and in the words found in Peter’s writings it is declared that you were redeemed (bought and purchased) with the precious blood of Christ.  But remember that the word peripoiesis goes beyond just being purchased.  There is in the word peripoiesis the extra assurance of the certain acquisition or obtaining of that which is purchased.  Oh and surely the passage in Hebrews declares that by His own blood He obtained the eternal redemption of His people.  

The idea expressed by the word peripoiesis is perhaps the most wonderfully amazing and God glorifying concept in all of history and in the entirety of eternity.  Jesus bought you and indeed obtained you with the price of His own blood shed on your behalf at the cross.  What a Father to give that Son!  What a Son to pay that price!  What a privilege for us to shew forth the praises of Him!  

Now there is no doubt that it is glorious that ye are a chosen generation.  There could be no salvation without the election and regeneration.  They both are absolutely essential to our salvation and God should and will be eternally praised for choosing to save sinners, for choosing sinners to save, and for the giving of eternal spiritual life to each of the ones that He had chosen. 

  And as I think of having such a glorified status expressed by the words ye are a royal priesthood, it just overwhelms me.  To think ‘that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am’ (2 Samuel 9:8) is indeed very humbling to me.  To imagine that it could be said of such worms as fallen humanity, ‘ye are a royal priesthood,’ is too wonderful for me.  And it is simply past my finding out how such a one as I could be included in the words ye are an holy nation.  For the Holy God to see me as a holy one leaves me speechless.  

But even as overwhelming and wonderful as all these expressions are, and while readily admitting that salvation cannot be accomplished without each of these things being accomplished, it still seems to me that the most amazing of all is that God paid for me with His own blood.  It is beyond amazement that God willingly chose to pay the price that was required to acquire and obtain me when it was known from the beginning of the plan that that price would be the precious blood of Jesus.  How can we ever realize the wonder of what Jesus did for us on the cross?  We will never know how much He suffered.  How can we comprehend such love?  How can we not now be one who would shew forth the praises of Him?      

 

 

That Ye Should Shew Forth

The Praises of Him

Surely the words, that ye should shew forth the praises of him, express the very purpose of salvation.  In the long ago God the Creator created all things.  And at the conclusion of those glorious six days God proclaimed that the creation was very good.  And it certainly was.  But through the rebellion of man sin entered the world and death by sin.  Most do not realize the extent of the fall of man when he sinned against the Holy God.  In the day Adam committed the act of rebellion he was cast from the presence of God.  And as he was separated from God, Adam indeed experienced a spiritual death the extent of which perhaps no one understands.  Moreover, the death that Adam experienced by sinning against God was extended to all that were in his loins so that all mankind received the death sentence placed upon Adam.  When that one man sinned all men died.  And since man has no cure for death the case would have been hopeless unless God by grace would intervene.  

But to the praise of the glory of his grace God had already begun a plan to save fallen man even before the fall of man.  This eternal plan had always been in the mind of God and had even been initiated before it was necessary.  Long before the foundation of the world and the creation of man God had a perfect plan established to save man once man plunged himself into sin.  The covenant of grace entered into by God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit was a fully functional harmonious pact well before the necessity of salvation became a reality.  This idea of a covenant of grace is the underlying basis for understanding the entire Bible and is indeed a central thread that runs throughout the scriptures.  

What is this covenant of grace?  It is a rather simple idea, yet when considered in its fullness it is quite profound.  Simply stated the covenant of grace can be thought of as a solemn agreement entered into by God with God before the world began.  And according to the terms of this agreement God would save his people by a most amazing means, even the means of grace.  

Generally speaking a covenant is an agreement that is entered into by two or more parties.  But the covenant of grace is somewhat different in that God is the only party involved in the agreement.  The covenant was made before creation and no one but God existed in that realm of eternity past.  Yet it must be remembered that the one true and living God is in some wonderful and unexplainable way three persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  So in a very real sense God entered into an agreement with God.  But it is just as real to say that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit agreed with each other in the establishment of the covenant of grace.  

But the main point here is that man was not actively involved in any way in this covenant.  The covenant was entered into before man existed.  The covenant concerned man but was not entered into by man.  The covenant was God’s agreement with Himself to save man, but man had no part in the original agreement and would have no part in the execution of the terms of the agreement.  And man would in no way be asked to actively bring about any aspect of the agreement.  The established ends of the covenant are not brought to pass by the will of man, the words of man, the works of man, or anything else of man.  The only way man is ever involved in this covenant of grace is to be the passive recipient of the grace that was established in it.  The covenant is a covenant of grace and by definition any benefits that man might receive according to the terms of this agreement must be received totally and completely by the agreed upon and established means of grace.   

As we approach the tremendous task of understanding the Bible, it is so important to know that God’s amazing grace and the idea of a covenant of grace make up the basic groundwork on which we can begin to understand scriptures.  Although the particular term ‘covenant of grace’ is not found in the scriptures, the idea of a covenant of grace is the basis for the whole book.  The very purpose of the scriptures is to make known to man God’s plan of salvation that originated in the covenant of grace and most of the teachings in the scriptures are in some way connected to the revelation of the details of this covenant.  

From Genesis to Revelation the terms and conditions of the agreement continue to be revealed in more and more detail.  The shadowy representations of the Old Testament become the sharp reality of the New Testament.  For instance, the woman’s seed with the bruised heel has become the Christ of the cross.  And the picture portrayed in the spotless Passover Lamb has become the reality of the sinless Christ, the Lamb of God, even our Passover.  So in scriptures and in history God’s plan of salvation that originated in the covenant of grace comes into view.  The vague prophecy of early teachings is the vivid history of today.  From the fall in the garden to the final resurrection the terms of the covenant unfold.  From before creation to the end of time the events established in the covenant are brought to pass.  From the redemption of the cross to the regeneration of every child of God the plan that was agreed to in the covenant of grace becomes reality in all its glorious detail.  

So the covenant of grace is the very foundational plan for salvation and the whole plan of salvation in all its details has as its cause the covenant of grace.  Such Bible concepts as election, predestination, redemption, justification, propitiation, reconciliation, regeneration, pardon, forgiveness, calling, glorification and many more all have their basis in the covenant of grace.  In the covenant of grace that was entered into before the foundation of the world is the very foundation and plan for everything that will one day be declared by the hosts of heaven and earth to be to the praise of the glory of His grace.  In the covenant of grace you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.  And in the ages of eternity future you will shew forth the praises of Him

We have before stated that God entered into an agreement with God in the covenant of grace.  But let it be said that it is very unlikely that God ever truly sat down and discussed the details of the covenant.  I do not suppose that Father, Son and Spirit ever needed to work out specifics.  They being God would have always known the specifics and the terms of the covenant.  Each must have always been aware of His part and portion in the agreement.  And all three must have always been agreeable to the agreement.  God has always been God.  He has always had infinite knowledge.  He has always known all that He now knows.  Thus He has never had to stop and figure something out.  He has never had to change a plan.  And I suppose that He has truly never had to make a plan.  Hence the idea of a covenant of grace may be more accurately thought of as a way for man to understand God’s ways than an actual account of the way God carries out His ways.  

So let us in a very simple way within the limits of our minds try to visualize God in eternity past.  Concerning creation God must have always been fully aware that he would do something quite incredible.  He would at an appointed instant when there was no such thing as an instant, create time in the midst of eternity.  And He would in an appointed place where there was no such thing as place, establish creation in the midst of nothingness.  And God knew that in His acts of creation that He would lastly create a man in the image of God.  

Furthermore, God fully knew that the man would not remain in that image, but would fall in sin.  And if man were to ever again be what God had created him to be, God would have to provide what was necessary for man’s return.  Man’s works could never bring about his return.  If he were to ever return it would have to be by God’s grace.  Knowing these things God did something that is quite amazing.  God entered into a covenant of grace with Himself concerning this coming fall of this yet-to-be-created man.  

Thus as we try to think of things in ways that finite man can grasp, simply put the covenant of grace goes something like this.  Before the beginning of time God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit entered into an agreement with each other.  The covenant of grace was entered into and agreed upon before any people had been created.  But the yet-to-be-created people were the central concern in the agreed to plan.  And we can visualize each person in the Godhead having a significant part in the plan that would by grace save God’s people.   

In this covenant agreement of grace God the Father elected and chose a particular people to be His people.  According to God’s purpose that was established in the covenant of grace, God’s plan of salvation was begun by the Father’s election of a people to eventually and eternally save.  Even before there were people to choose, the Father chose particular people.  And He did not base his choice on anything that the chosen people would do.  He did not gaze into the future and find any goodness in any.  If He had fixed His eyes on the future and the men of that future He would not have seen any goodness in any, for there was none good, no not one.  Consequently God did not make any choice based on what He might see through His omniscience.  Instead His choice and election of a people was based only in His own purpose, and grace, and love.  So the Father’s part in the covenant of grace was by grace to elect a vast host of people from every nation and family under heaven.  And the Father would give these elected people to His Son for the accomplishment of their appointed salvation. 

Furthermore, in this covenant agreement God the Son agreed to represent these chosen people as their surety.  At an appointed time He would take their place.  He would be their substitute.  In order to take their place and be their substitute the glorious Son of God agreed to a most incredible thing.  He even agreed to become a man and dwell among men.  Amazingly the Creator Himself agreed to be made of a woman and housed in the state of humanity.  The Son of God agreed to come into the world as a man and to live the sinless life that no other man would ever live.  And after living that sinless life for an appointed time the Son of God in covenant agreed to shed His blood and lay down His life in death upon a cruel cross.  By this event the Son of God would take the place of each of the individuals that had been elected by the Father.  He would pay the ransom demanded by the justice of God for all the sins of all the people that He represented as their surety.   

And finally in this covenant agreement God the Holy Spirit agreed to give spiritual life to each one that the Father had elected and chosen.  The Holy Spirit would do this according to His sovereign will and purpose.  At the time that he deemed to be the right time He would find each of the elected individuals at a precise point in their natural life and breathe into them a glorious spiritual life.  It would be as a new birth, a spiritual birth from above, and the irresistible grace of God would be its cause.  And the result of the new life would be a new and heavenly nature with attributes and characteristics that can only come from God.  And God the Holy Spirit would dwell within the heart of each of these regenerated creatures teaching and guiding them in spiritual things.  

It can be further noted that there is no disagreement among the Godhead regarding the entered into agreement.  The Son represented and took the place of all that the Father chose.  Likewise the Holy Spirit finds all that the Father chose.  The Son died for the same ones that the Holy Spirit breathes life into.  The ones that the Father elected are the ones the Son redeemed.  And the ones that the Son redeemed are the ones the Holy Spirit regenerates.  And the ones that the Father willed to save are the same ones that will be saved, so that the words of Jesus ring true, “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.” (John 6:38-39)  Surely Father, Son and Holy Spirit are agreed in covenant to a foolproof plan whereby each will do His part to save each individual elected to that plan of salvation.  And at the last day the Son of God will appear with a resurrecting shout and all the ones whose names were written in the covenant of grace will ascend into the presence of God.  And none will be lost.  All will be accounted for.  Jesus will proclaim in victory, “Behold I and the children which God hath given me.” (Hebrews 2:13)  

So as we continue to think upon this idea of a covenant of grace we come to the idea expressed in the words, all that the Father giveth me.  With slight variations these words repeatedly appear in the Bible and most often they are a part of direct statements made by the Son of God.  Without an understanding of the concept of the covenant of grace, the idea expressed in these words remains hidden.  But if you understand that God elected a people in the covenant of grace and gave the elected people to Jesus, then these words suddenly have a very clear meaning. 

  The Bible teaches that God the Father elected and predestinated a foreknown, ever-loved, and much-loved people.  The predetermined destiny that the Father had in mind for these elected people was that they would one day be conformed to the likeness and image of His beloved Son Jesus Christ.  So in order to accomplish this desired end, God the Father gave each of these chosen people to God the Son in the covenant of grace.  And in the covenant of grace God the Son accepted each of the beloved ones He had been given and took the responsibility upon Himself to bring to pass for each of these chosen ones all that the Father had in mind for them.  Thus we have the repeated words, all that the Father giveth me, in reference to the transaction of the elect from Father to Son in the covenant of grace.  

And now let us look at scriptures that proclaim that the Father gave a particular elect people to the Son in the covenant of grace before the beginning of the world.  As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. (John 17:2)  Certainly Jesus had power over all flesh.  It is proclaimed here that the Father had given Jesus such power.  And for what purpose did the man Jesus have such power?  It is clear that Jesus had this God-given power in order to give eternal life to men who were under the curse of eternal death?  But which men should Jesus give eternal life to?  The answer lies in the words, to as many as the Father had given him.  And surely in the covenant of grace before the world began the Father had given the ones He had elected to be saved to Jesus.  Yes, Jesus had God-given power in order to save God-given people.  It was all part of the agreement.  It was established in covenant as God covenanted with God before the world was. 

In the same chapter there are multiple references to this same thing.  In the following words of Jesus it is clear that God had at some previous time given men to Jesus.  I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. (John 17:6)  First of all Jesus said that He had manifested the Father’s name to the ones that the Father had given Him out of the world.  This certainly implies election in that the Father did not give to Jesus all the men in the world, but some that He had chosen out of the world.  And it certainly implies a previous transaction between Father and Son, even a transaction agreeable to that that is explained by the idea of a covenant of grace.  

But it is even more interesting to note that the men at some point prior to having been given to Jesus had belonged to the Father.  Jesus said to the Father, “Thine they were.”  It seems that the Father first possessed them at some point previous to Jesus possessing them.  And having first been in the possession of the Father they came to be in the possession of the Son.  In the words of Jesus this change of possession came to be when thou gavest them me.  This all ties very nicely into the covenant of grace grid for understanding God’s plan of salvation.  

Further in the same chapter we find the words, I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. (John 17:9)  Again we see the idea that God had possessed a particular and elect group and had given these elected ones to Jesus in the covenant of grace.  It can also be noted from this verse and the previous that all men were not chosen and given to Jesus.  

Yet it is interesting in this verse to note the use of the present tense verb in the statement, They are thine.  Previously Jesus had said, Thine they were, and here he says, They are thine. [Emphasis added]  With man such statements seem impossible, but with God it can be explained.  Even though the elect had been given to Jesus and were in a very real sense in His possession, they were still just as much in the Father’s possession as they ever had been.  This can only be true by considering that though the Father and Son are distinct persons, they are yet one in the Godhead.  And thus what is true for one is equally true for the other.  Admittedly this is not easily understood.  But what is there about God that man can easily understand?  

It can also be seen from this verse and the previously discussed verse that the Father made a clear and distinct choice when He elected people to be His people.  In the previous verse it was said that the Father gave Jesus men out of the world.  He did not give Him the whole world to save but men out of the world.  And in this verse Jesus prayed not for the world.  Instead He limited His prayer to the group that belonged to the Father and had been given to the Son.  Indeed the elect of the Father is composed of distinct and particular individuals that were chosen out of the world and given to Jesus in the covenant of grace.  And Jesus’ concern in the fulfillment of the terms of the covenant are directed not for the world that he refused to pray for, but for the elect that had been given to Him in the covenant of grace.  

Finally, in the same chapter we find a further reference.  Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)  Similar to the other verses we find a prayer to the Father concerning the elected ones that the Father had given to the Son in the covenant of grace.  But in this verse we find the Son making a glorious statement to the Father concerning His will for the ones He had been given.  Jesus here declares that His will is that those whom He had been given be with Him in glory.  

But in this statement Jesus declared more than His will.  For in addition to a declaration of His will, we find in His wonderful words a declaration of the greatness of His love for the ones He had been given.  Jesus well knew what was required for this that He prayed to come to pass.  He fully understood His covenant commitment to take the place of these that had been given to Him.  He surely had anticipated this moment from before the beginning of the world.  Yet at this appointed time when He squarely faced the cross He said that His will was to have the given people with Him forever in His glory.  Jesus’ prayer and Jesus’ will were such that He desired that all the God-given elect would one day be with Him to behold His God-given glory.  And as He left that prayer and walked to the cross He fulfilled His own will.  He saved the entirety of the elect that He had been given in the covenant of grace from their sins.  And in that salvation Jesus did not just fulfill His own will.  At that cross where He lay His life down Jesus fulfilled the united will of Father, Son and Spirit that had so long ago been forever established in the covenant of grace.   

And the united will of the Godhead shall one day become a completed reality.  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. (John 6:37-39)  How did Jesus know the Father’s will?  He had known the will of the Father at least since entering into covenant with the Father.  He had long ago agreed in covenant to come down from heaven and fulfill every detail of the Father’s will contained in that covenant.  

And it can again be seen that the will of the Father completely agreed with the will of the Son.  In the previous passage the Son’s will and prayer was that all that He had been given would be with Him in glory.  And in the words of this passage Jesus declared that the will of the Father was that none would be lost of all that had been given.  How much more agreeable could their wills be?  The wills of the Father and the Son are the same.  They both willed and agreed to the same thing in the covenant of grace before the world began.  And when the world ends they both will be satisfied that the agreement has been completely kept.  None that were elected by the Father and given to the Son in covenant will be missing in the end.  Again the covenant thought that God had given an elected people to Jesus before the foundation of the world is repeatedly found in these verses.  All that the Father gave to Jesus shall come and none that the Father gave to Jesus will be lost.  

And finally a victory statement of sorts is found in the following words.  Behold I and the children which God hath given me. (Hebrews 2:13)  Just try to imagine the total success.  Try to envision the glory of the moment.  Think of what Jesus might say at that time.  Look Father!  I have them all.  None is missing.  You gave them to Me.  And now here they are back.  I have paid for them.  I have cleansed them.  I have redeemed them.  They are Mine and I give them back to You who chose them so long ago.  How glorious it is and how reassuring it is to know that all that were given to Jesus before the world began will eventually come to Jesus when the world ends.  

What a plan!  What a covenant!  What a message!  And it is all to the praise of the glory of his grace!  And it is all done that we should shew forth the praises of Him!  When we all get to heaven we will shew forth the praises of Him forever and forever.  But the ones who understand the wonder of salvation can start showing forth His praise even in this world today. If you understand that ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people you will desire to shew forth the praises of Him.  And I remind you again that this is why you are what you are.   Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people that ye should shew forth the praises of him!  This is the purpose for our existence.  This is the point of salvation.  It really matters to God that His children for whom He has done so much even from before the beginning of the world should shew forth the praises of Him

 

 

To Take As Your Own

The Work Of Another 

As we think about the idea that it really matters to God, let me share with you something that happened many years ago.  I had just gotten married and had begun to work at my first full-time job.  I was the only young man in a crew of several older men.  They were a likable bunch of men and I have fond memories of each of them.  I suppose that we all have faults and when we are around each other everyday we become aware of these faults and have to put up with each other.  And so it was with this crew.  But in spite of the shortcomings, I do not remember any arguments in the entire time I worked there.  We each had our failures but we really got along well with each other.  

But having said that let me now share with you one time that I nearly lost my cool.  There was one man in the crew that often seemed to fail to pull his weight.  He had had some health problems and we all tried to help him, but at times the situation was difficult to deal with.  The man had his good traits and had at times been especially good to me, so I reminded myself of these things and did my work and much of his without any clashes.  But one particular hot summer day comes to my mind when I really had to bite my tongue.  It had been a day when he had done even less than usual.  Or maybe I had just taken it worse than usual.  But the last straw came when we returned to the office and I heard him bragging to the supervisor about how much he had accomplished that day.  The longer he described how hot he had gotten with all his hard work, the hotter I got.  The more he blew his own horn, the nearer I came to blowing my stack.  I turned and walked away without a confrontation, but on the inside I had thoughts that I should not have had.  

What was my problem?  Somebody else was taking credit for work that I had done.  Somebody else was getting praise for something that I had accomplished.  I had pulled the load and he got the pat on the back.  When I look back on the situation I now realize that my ego was a big part of my problem.  I wanted the praise and perhaps I wanted a raise.  After all I was doing the work of two and getting half the pay of this ‘old timer’.  But even though my thoughts were inappropriate, it is obvious that it is likewise inappropriate for anybody to take credit for something that they did not do.  And anyone who has been in a situation where they pulled the weight and did not receive the recognition can relate to my story. 

As we continue to think on these things let me share with you a rather strange story that is obviously more fantasy than truth.  Now these first two statements are true.   A young man named Trevor Sewell is a member of the church that I pastor.  And this young man does play on the local high school basketball team.  But from here on the story may stretch your imagination.  But bear with me as I try to illustrate the point that it really does matter that we give the glory to the one who accomplishes the extraordinary. 

So for the sake of illustration let us imagine that the high school team on which Trevor plays had a game and that Trevor scored every point that was scored and single handedly won the victory for the whole team.  All by himself he triumphed over the opposition and the successful conquest of all involved hinged only on his unbelievable accomplishment.  Now any who might know the whole truth would say that the story cannot be so, for if they knew the whole truth they would know that though Trevor is a good ball player, he is not that good.  There may be somebody that good somewhere but our little school has never known one with such abilities. 

But though Trevor is not that good, our Savior Jesus Christ was.  Jesus single handedly and without the assistance of some team effort attained the complete victory overcoming all opposition when He hung on the cross.  All by Himself He triumphed over the enemy and the successful conquest of all involved hinged only on His unbelievable accomplishment.  No one was there to help Him; but He needed no help.  He, by Himself, won the battle.  He alone defeated the foe.  He destroyed death and the grave.  The angel declared, And thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)  At the time of His birth the angel said He shall save His people.  The angel did not say that Jesus and somebody that was on His team would save the people.  The proclamation was that He would do it.  And so it was declared after the fact that by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (Hebrews 9:12)  Yes, He did it!  And by Himself, He did it!  Nobody helped.  Nobody took the court with Him.  Nobody passed Him the ball.  Nobody got credited with any assists.  It was not a team effort.  Jesus did it all.  

But now drift with me back to the fantasy story about Trevor.  Suppose that this thing had really happened and that Trevor had by himself won the game scoring every point.  Now further imagine that when Trevor came to school the next day after this wonderful event that he overheard another young man boasting about how much he had helped in the cause.  Suppose that Trevor heard every word about how this other person had done this or that.  He even heard this one who had done nothing for the cause saying that without his part the victory could never have been accomplished.  Of all people Trevor would have known that this boaster had not contributed to the victory.  Instead of a contributor, he had been a hindrance.  Instead of helping, this braggart had been in the way.  Instead of being a part of the solution, this one who so boldly blew his own horn had truly been a part of the problem that had to be overcome.  And now Trevor had to listen to such.  How do you think he would feel? 

Bear with me as we look back at the local newspaper after this imaginary event.  When the weekly press hit the streets there were pictures of several players and captions proclaiming what all each had done to help gain the victory.  If you had known the story and had been concerned that Trevor get the credit he was due, you might have gone to the reporter and argued that he had not reported the facts of the case.  You could have told the man responsible for not giving Trevor his due that he should go to the school and look in the ‘Official Book’ that had been kept by the ‘Official Scorer’ in which can be found all the details of the victory.  You could have explained to this confused reporter that the ‘Official Book’ has the account of the game including the part that Trevor had scored all the points and had won the game all by himself. 

But what if after you had explained these things to the reporter, he had responded to you that he was fully aware of the ‘Official Book’ account?  What if he had told you that there is more to it than getting the story right?  What if he had told you that the account in the ‘Official Book’ would not sell papers?  What if he had explained that you have to be practical in these things and do what works?  And you might have said, “But what about Trevor?  Does it not matter that he did not get his praises?  Does what he thinks not matter at all?”  And suppose that the self-interested reporter replies, “Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.”  Does it matter that we tell the story right?  I believe that it does—especially to the one who won the victory. 

I believe that there are many ‘reporters’ (preachers) who read the ‘Official Book’ (God’s Bible) where the ‘Official Scorer’ (The Holy Spirit) recorded the ‘Official Story’ (Salvation is of the Lord).  And yet when they begin to ‘report the news’ (preach the gospel) they become more interested in selling papers (pleasing the public) than they do in getting the story right.  And thanks to the biased reporting many of the readers (listeners) come to believe that lots of people in some way have contributed to the victory that should be credited solely to the one who by Himself accomplished it.  Do you suppose these things matter to the Victor?  I believe that ye should shew forth the praises of Him!  He that glories, let him glory in the Lord!  

Let us have just one more thought before we leave this fantasy.  How would Trevor’s father have felt through everyone’s bragging and all the false reports?  I suppose that Jesus’ Father might feel the same way.  Surely our Heavenly Father has feelings.  And surely His feelings should matter.  Let us give praises to the Father’s Son for what that precious Son accomplished. 

And let us once again look at the words of the text.  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.  And you are all these things because God alone has made you these things.  He did not make you these things so that you could rob Him of His glory.  He did not do these things for you so that you might take credit for what He did.  He did these things for you because He loved you.  And ultimately He did these things for you that ye should shew forth the praises of him! 

 

 

Why I Remain Primitive Baptist 

In conclusion let me share with you three stories that may help show why I choose to remain with a group that is called the Primitive Baptist.  The first story is a story of two preachers.  One is a nationally known preacher of another order of people, whose name would be recognized by many Christians and non-Christians around the world.  The other is a lesser-known Primitive Baptist preacher that firmly believes and preaches salvation by grace and grace alone.  This little known preacher of sovereign grace somewhere along the way became acquainted with the renowned preacher.  And as I understand the account of the story the famous preacher has at times been in attendance at worship services where the less prominent Primitive Baptist preacher proclaimed the good news of salvation entirely by God’s grace.  

After hearing these messages the two men conversed and it became apparent that the celebrated preacher believed the things that had been preached.  He understood that the Bible proclaims that God saves sinners by grace and grace alone.  He seemed to know that Jesus and Jesus alone saved His people from their sins.  He even agreed to these things and knew them to be God-revealed Bible truths.  At this point the comparatively ‘nobody preacher’ asked the ‘somebody preacher’ why he did not preach what he knew to be the truth.  The sad words given by the infamous preacher in response to the question went something like this, “Preaching the truth does not pay.”  

What a sad statement!  I suppose that it was more important to please men than to please God.  I suppose that it was more important to sell papers than to get the story right.  I suppose that it does not matter to most whether the Son of God gets all the praise.  It seems that many put more emphasis on what it takes to fill the house, to remain famous and to receive the rewards that come from men, than they do on what honors the Christ who by Himself won the victory.  I want to remain with a people who want to hold to the truth.  

Next let me tell you the story about the family that ‘took the whole package’.  A young family had been coming to the local Primitive Baptist church and it seemed that they had been very enthused.  They had come regularly for several weeks and had apparently been very blessed by the simplicity of the gospel message.  They seemed to have been uplifted by the thoughts that salvation was totally of the Lord and had rejoiced in the freedom afforded by such a reassuring message.  They had been well received by the membership and been made to feel very welcome. 

But then they suddenly quit coming.  A young man who had especially reached out to them at the church became concerned and contacted them.  When he asked why they had not been to church he was told that they had chosen the ‘whole package’ over the Primitive Baptist Church.  Being confused by the words ‘whole package’ he questioned further as to what the words meant.  In explanation the man told him that they had chosen the modern church down the street over the Primitive Baptist Church because with it they got a swimming pool, tennis courts and a myriad of other things thrown in.  Concerning this situation a friend of mine declared, “Instead of joining the church, they joined a country club.”  And I wonder if that is not at least in a sense a fair assessment of much that is called church today.  

My point is not to speak out against country clubs, or swimming or tennis.  I am just wondering if these things are a part of the New Testament Church or a part of the world.  I find no scriptural basis for having these things as a part of church.  And I wonder if we have a right to add these frills to the church that Jesus in His wisdom established.  It seems that our culture demands that frills and accessories be added to the church, while at the same time demanding that a message that gives all the glory to Christ be removed.  People are attracted to churches by bringing in the things of the world and kept in the churches by throwing out the things of Christ.  I want to remain with a people who desire the old paths of truth concerning salvation and the old paths of worship regarding the church. 

Finally I come to the last story and it goes something like this.  A concerned mother came up to Elder Charles Walker, a now deceased Primitive Baptist preacher, and asked him this question.  “What does your church have for my children?”  Now that is a fair question.  And it is the kind of question that a concerned mother should have on her mind.  Elder Walker’s response was at the same time quite simple and very profound.  To the question, “What does your church have for my children?” Elder Walker replied, “The truth.”  

What an answer!  The truth!  The Bible says that the true church is the pillar and ground of truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)  Jesus said that if we worship it must be in truth. (John 4:24)  From the Bible we find truth for Jesus said, “Thy word is truth.” (John 17:17)  And the truth is what God’s children need.  It is the thing that will set you free. (John 8:32)  

Lots of churches offer lots of things, but in the struggles of this world of sin and sorrow nothing comforts God’s children like the truth of a Christ accomplished salvation.  What a blessing to know that Jesus has won the victory!   I need that message.  I need to hear it and I need to preach it.  The message of truth gives comfort to the sinner and glory to the Savior.  I want to be with a people who refuse to sell the truth.  I want to be with a church that emphasizes Jesus and Jesus alone.  I do not want earthly attractions that prove to be distractions from what really matters.  I believe that the truth really matters.   

And I do believe that the truth really matters.  God blessed me to be brought up in a home where the truth really mattered.  My parents found the truth early in their marriage and they would not let it go.  They had become dissatisfied with the inconsistencies found in the world’s denominations and were searching for something different.  They had no idea what they were looking for, but God did.  When they first heard messages of salvation by grace from Primitive Baptist preachers they did not understand what they were hearing.  It was so foreign to their ingrained thinking that they said to each other, “Those preachers seem like intelligent men.  Surely they do not really believe those things.”  

But though they did not even recognize the truth when they first heard it, God was hearing their prayers and guiding them to the truth.  And when they finally came to see and believe the message of salvation by grace they were freed from the burdens that are placed upon sinners by the non-truths taught by the denominations of the world.  They had found the truth.  Or maybe by God’s grace it had found them.  But my parents were free and to them the truth really mattered.  As a matter of fact my mother once wrote a small book that she entitled, It Really Matters.  And to her it does really matter.  

The truth mattered to my parents.  And they taught me early in my life that the truth really matters.  What we believe really matters.  Where we go to church really matters.  What we preach really matters.  What we hear preached really matters.  It really matters.  It matters to me, but more importantly, it matters to God.  It matters to the Father what we say about His Son.  It matters to God that we give Him the glory for what He has done.  It matters to Jesus that we give Him total credit for the victory.  

The Primitive Baptist people have their flaws and are not perfect.  But they are a people that have historically thought that the truth matters.  They are a people who have historically tried to find truth in God’s word and have tried to hold to God’s word of truth as the sole basis for faith and practice.  They do not have the frills of the world in their churches, but they have the best thing that can be offered to God’s children, young and old.  They attempt to preach the truth of a sovereign God who saves His people by grace and grace alone.  That kind of truth will set you free.  That is the kind of truth I want to cling to.  The truth about God and what He has accomplished is the kind of truth that praises God.  I thank my God for what He has done for me and by His grace may I never cease to proclaim the truth of His amazing grace.    

So why do I remain with the Primitive Baptist?  They are a people who have historically strived to hold to the truth in spite of better options for paying the bills.  They are concerned with the account in the ‘Official Book’ and need nothing in their worship service today that was not found in the churches in the New Testament.  They do not want man’s additions to God’s worship.  They are satisfied with the Bible pattern of singing, praying and preaching as left on record for us in the Bible.  They have held to God’s word as the sole basis of truth and have attempted to pattern their churches and their manner of worship only on what can be found in the New Testament teachings. 

And when they preach they do not allow that anyone has to help Jesus save a single soul.  They preach that eternal salvation is of the Lord and him alone.  They proclaim that the sinner’s deliverance from hell is by the Savior and in no way by the sinner.  They declare amazing grace with no disclaimers.  They believe and preach that Jesus alone won the victory.  They want to hold to the truth, for the truth about God is what glorifies God. 

And the truth in one place is said like this.  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him.  The first truth is that the children of God are these wonderful things.  The second truth is that God’s children are these things because God by His grace has made them to be such.  And the last truth is that ye should shew forth the praises of him.  

Oh child of grace, will you praise Him and nothing else?  Will you leave all others and cleave only unto Him?  Will you buy the truth and sell it not?   Will ye show forth the praises of Him? 

 

2 thoughts on “Why I Remain Primitive Baptist”

  1. This is an excellent article and it echoes the sentiment commonly made by my pastor, Elder Sonny Phelan, “We may not have rock music, a gymnasium, or Sunday school, but we DO have a successful savior.”

    Amen! I thank the Lord for the pillar and ground of truth which is the Primitive Baptist Church and for the men who preach the truth because the truth is important to God’s people.

    1. Hello Dan,

      Thanks so very much for your encouraging words, and I praise the Lord if you found encouragment in my words.

      I love your pastor dearly. I always held him in high esteem. But after spending two weeks with him in the Philippines, I now hold him on an even higher pedistal. Please give my best wishes to him.

      May God bless you. Thanks again for your post.

      Grace and peace,

      Jeff Winfrey

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