All That Matters is the Truth of God.

We ought to hope the best even of those concerning whom we have cause to fear the worst. —Matthew Henry

A Fivefold Salvation

     When were God’s people saved? That is a good question that deserves an honest scriptural answer. Most religious people, who have nothing more than a false profession, often use the phrase, “I got saved,” but that statement reeks of a superficial Christianity. The scriptures tells us when God’s people were saved by revealing a fivefold salvation. It is “the common salvation” spoken of by the apostle Jude, the common salvation that belongs to all of God’s saints.
     There are five times, if I may use that phrase, when a believer is said to have been saved by the free grace of God. The first of which is this: God’s people were saved in the eternal decree of God from the foundation of the world. In Romans chapter 8, we read that “[God’s people] know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” All of the verbs are in the past tense: did predestinate, called, justified, glorified. Paul does not say that all whom God did predestinate will be called, justified, and glorified, as if those were things to come one day out in the future; to understand the text that way is to misunderstand Paul’s meaning. Paul says that all whom God did predestinate were called, justified, and glorified—all at the same time, in one glorious act of grace. Paul is speaking of things that are already done, and they were done before the foundation of the world. When God predestinated his elect unto salvation, they were, then and there in eternity before they had any being, called, justified, and glorified. Such is the glorious purpose of almighty God.
     Paul tells us in Ephesians 1 that we, God’s elect, were chosen in the Lord Jesus Christ “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.” From eternity, God sovereignly elected a people unto himself that they might be made the righteousness of God in Christ. This was done in absolute sovereignty by the free, pure, and unmerited mercy and grace of God, while we were “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.” God’s people were not only saved in time; they were saved before they ever existed, when God determined to save them in that everlasting covenant of grace. The doctrine is this: God’s eternal purpose to save his people from their sins is their salvation.
     Secondly, God’s people were saved when the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross at Calvary over 2000 years ago and was raised again on the third day for their justification. The Son of God came into this world for one purpose and one purpose only: to die for the sins of his people on the cursed tree in order to put away their sins forever by the sacrifice of himself. Everything in our Lord’s earthly life and ministry was working toward the accomplishment of this one great work of redemption by his precious blood.
     All the Old Testament types and shadows were fulfilled by the Lord Jesus who died as that spotless, sinless, and holy Lamb of God to put away the sins of his people as a sacrifice. His very name tells us what his purpose was: “Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” As he hung on that cross, being made a curse for us, he cried, “It is finished,” and then he gave up the ghost. He successfully finished all the work which the Father sent him to do, and that work was the salvation of his people. Our blessed Savior was faithful from the cradle to the grave because he came into the world which he created in order to be made “sin for us, who knew know sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
     His eternal love for his bride was so unsearchable and glorious that he “made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.”
     Three days following his death, he was raised from the grave because the Father was perfectly satisfied with his substitutionary work for his people. The Lord Jesus “was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” His resurrection from the grave is the evidence that God’s wrath against the sins of his people is forever quenched and that “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
     Thirdly, God’s people were saved when they first heard the gospel with power, when the Spirit came in convincing power, when God actually gave them faith and repentance through the new birth. Faith in time is the evidence that the previous two points are true for a person. If you believe the gospel, it is because God chose you before the foundation of the world and sent his Son into the world to die for your sins. Believing the gospel, trusting the Lord Jesus Christ, coming to Christ by faith, receiving the testimony of God concerning his Son—these are all different ways of saying the exact same thing. If a man or woman believes the gospel, it is because they have been justified by the faith of Jesus Christ. The righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” There are many in this world who believe a false gospel, worship a false Christ, and trust a failure of a savior. The only people who practice this false religion are those who are lost and who currently abide under the wrath of God. “But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
     Fourthly, God’s people are saved every time they hear the gospel preached and are graciously caused to come to Christ again and again by faith. Every believer certainly remembers the first time that the Lord Jesus appeared to them in saving power through the preaching of the gospel, but the fact is that the true believer is saved every time he or she hears the gospel preached. Salvation is not a one-time experience that happened way back when, which has resulted in no spiritual growth or fruit. That sort of salvation amounts to nothing more than a false profession of religion. True salvation is the continual and constant experience of everyone who has tasted that the Lord is gracious. “For the Word of the cross is foolishness to those being lost, but to us being saved, it is the power of God.” The believer is continually being revived, refreshed, rebuked, exhorted, and transformed by the preaching of the word, which he delights to hear as often as he can.
     It is not enough for the true child of God to hear the gospel once in his life, for he must always be feeding and drinking upon the spiritual meat and sincere milk of the word whereby he grows into a perfect and mature man, having his senses developed for spiritual usefulness. A sheep will always delight in following the great Shepherd withersoever he goeth. Following his master’s footsteps is not a grievous task, but his ever increasing pleasure and joy. This is why hearing the gospel and meeting with God’s saints as often as we can is so important; it is the means by which we are saved and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The believer is continually coming to Christ, desiring the sincere milk of the word that he may grow thereby. “To whom coming,” Peter says, “as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious.”  
     Fifthly, God’s people will be saved finally with an ultimate salvation when Christ comes again to raise them from their graves, giving them perfect bodies that are like unto his own glorious body. The resurrection of the just is that long sought for and eagerly anticipated event which every saint earnestly desires to experience. We know that very soon our Lord will return to this earth to gather his wheat into his garner and to execute vengeance upon all those who would not have him to reign over them. When this happens, our salvation will be fully realized and experienced. Paul says it like this: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”
     We are made more than conquerors in Christ who loved us and gave himself for us, but that blessed fact won’t be fully realized until we are raised again with a sinless, perfect, immortal, and incorruptible body. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” God’s saints can honestly say with brother David, “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.”
     Seeing therefore, all these precious things, let us hold fast the profession of our faith, brethren. Let no man rob you of the hope that is within you, for our resurrection draweth nigh! Even now, the Lord Jesus is on his way back to this earth: behold, he cometh! When he arrives, he will raise us from the dead, and along with the living saints, we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Then, we will know his great salvation to be unto the uttermost. He will cut down all opposition. He will establish his kingdom in righteousness. He will avenge us upon our enemies. He will create a new heavens and a new earth. He will do all things well!
     “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found in him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” —Dennis Svistun

Build up the Brethren

Edify one another, even as also ye do. —1 Thessalonians 5:11

     It is far too easy for us to be lazy in the kingdom of God—to do nothing, turn around, lie to ourselves, and call it faithfulness. We think that because we do not transgress flagrantly, harm anyone, cuss anyone out, or cause anyone needless pain we are living up to our high and holy calling in Christ Jesus, but nothing could be further from the truth. God has not called us to do nothing; he has called us to labor, to serve, and to edify the brethren. J.C. Ryle warns us of this evil, saying, “Let us beware of do-nothing Christianity. Such religion does not come from the Spirit of God.” Speaking in the same vein, Richard Baxter said, “To do no harm is the praise of a stone, not of a man.” Did you know that? We deserve no praise for refraining from the practice of evil. I wonder, are we standing in the back of the room with our arms folded across our chests, as though we had nothing to do, no God to serve, no work to perform, and no brethren to build up in this, our most holy faith? Are we content with doing no harm to others? Have we forgotten about the body of Christ, the family of God, and all our brethren, who could profit from our earnest endeavors? Let us forsake this do-nothing Christianity at once. Let us not only do no harm to our brethren, but edify them for the glory of Christ.
     David said in Psalm 16 that his goodness, his virtue and faithfulness, extended not to God, but to the saints that were in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom was all his delight. God didn’t need David’s devotion, nor did David’s devotion add or extend to the self-sustained all-sufficient God’s already perfect happiness. Ah, but the saints could, would, and did profit from David’s commitment and faithfulness, for they were men, poor and needy creatures, just like him. Remember the words of David, and let your goodness, beneficence, and magnanimity extend to the brethren, who most assuredly need your encouragement, help, and support.
     I cannot help but think of how easily and thoughtlessly we, the people of God, tear one another down. The unkind word, the insulting look, a thoughtless gesture, a severe comment, an unfriendly attitude, the critical remark, the suspicious whisper, a needless poke—all of these things wound, hurt, and erode the comfort and happiness of the brethren. We have been delivered from sin, have we not? Are we not saved and forgiven? Holy, righteous, and free? Of course we are. We are not lost men; therefore, let us not be destroyers. We did enough destruction in the days of our unbelief. Your name is not Apollyon and neither is mine, for we are not called to destroy one another; we are called to edify one another, to build one another up in our most holy faith.
     The word, edify, simply means to build; the English word, edifice, is derived from it. The church of Jesus Christ is a spiritual edifice, a mystical superstructure built by God, a monument of mercy and grace, a group of saved sinners that no man can number built upon a tried and precious corner stone, that sure foundation, even the Rock Christ Jesus. We know beyond all doubt that Christ himself will build his church, regardless of our destructive tendencies, because he has promised that “upon this rock I will build my church.” As the all-wise Master Builder, he will cement every living stone into his or her preordained position. We know that the devil and all his agents will continue trying their best to destroy the church, but we also know that they cannot and will not succeed. Christ promises that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Remember, “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.” Yet, in spite of all this and often enough, the very people of God, the lively stones of whom the church is comprised, go about doing the devil’s dirty work, tearing down their brethren, when they ought to be building them up. “My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” Let us be done with tearing down and destroying, and let us give ourselves to the grand work of edification.
     If we are going to really edify one another, we must know how to build up one another in the faith of the gospel. So, how do we edify our brethren?  Number one: meet with them for worship. We know that the gospel is the primary source of strength and encouragement for the believer, but understand that your very presence in the assembly of the saints encourages the brethren to commitment, faithfulness, and devotion to God. What an easy way to build up the brethren: just show up to worship God with the saints.
     Secondly, giving sound biblical words of encouragement goes a long way in building up the brethren in their most holy faith. If I discourage a brother by words and behaviors that are unkind and thoughtless, I am not building him up—I am tearing him down. To edify, we must encourage one another, not discourage one another. We have to speak of Christ and his grace constantly—that is so encouraging. We must remind one another of the word of God, of the promises, and of the commandments. We must warn one another, exhort one another, and reprove one another. This is how we must build.
     Thirdly, let us be examples of faithfulness to one another. A good example promotes godliness, love, patience, sacrifice, humility, and commitment in the body of Christ. A good example builds up the brethren, while silently reproving the faults of the unfaithful. On the other hand, a bad example does just what bad examples always do—it tears down and destroys. Every bad thing I say has a negative impact on all who hear it, and every bad thing I do encourages others to do the same bad thing. A good example of godliness strengthens the hands of the brethren in faithfulness, but a bad example strengthens their hands for evil.
     Fourthly, few things are more edifying to the brethren than the practice of love, mercy, and grace in the forgiveness of their offenses. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”
     If you truly desire to edify your brethren, forgive them when they offend. Delight to pass by their faults and transgressions, like God does. That does not mean you never tell them of their faults or reprove them as the need arises, but we should all be just as eager to forgive as we are to rebuke. Love is the key to edification, brethren—love, mercy, and grace. Let us walk in love, and let our speech be always seasoned with grace. Let us forgive gladly from the heart. Let us be gentle with our brethren—they belong to God. Do not harbor ill-will toward an offending brother or sister, even if they offend seventy times seven times in a day. Practice unlimited forgiveness. If you do allow ill-will toward an offending brother or sister grow in your heart, it will fester into malice, and sooner or later, that festering sore spot of malice will manifest itself toward them, to your embarrassment, to their hurt, and to the displeasure of the Father.
     Lastly, if we would edify our brethren, let us pray for them continually. Now, prayer is no substitute for all the other things we must do that require personal contact and communion. It would be complete hypocrisy on our part to pray for our brethren in private while setting a bad example in their presence with foolish talk and bad behavior. Let us be consistent in our labor to edify the brethren, lest we be found edifying with one hand while tearing down with the other. Assemble with the brethren. Exhort them to do the will of God. Remind them of the word of promise and of their duties to God. Warn them of the dangers of worldliness, sin, covetousness, and all the other evils that we are prone to. Then, when you take your leave of their company, enter into your closet, and pray for them. All the fellowship, exhortation, and preaching in the world will benefit no one apart from God’s blessing, so let us always seek his blessing upon our endeavors to build up our beloved brethren in the faith of Jesus Christ our Lord. —Frank Hall

Keeping Secrets from God

Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. —Psalm 90:8

Don’t keep secrets from God. The practice is not only foolish, but futile. It is not only ridiculous; it is dangerous. Moses understood this very well; speaking of God, he writes, “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.” Don’t you know that God sees in the dark, even into the thick darkness and into the hidden corners of your depraved heart? “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Seated atop the circle of the earth, like a majestic eagle upon the mountain peak of creation, his eyes run to and fro throughout the whole world. He sees what you don’t see, and he knows what only he can. He sees the creepy crawlers at the bottom of the sea. He sees the microbes in the sewer. He sees the viruses in the blood. He sees the seemingly invisible parasites dwelling beneath the skin of that lone black bear hibernating in the forest of Alaska. He sees all! He even sees you, into you, and through you. He sees those centipedal creepy-crawlers of your mind. He sees those microbial indulgences that you thought were secret and known only to yourself. He sees that vicious virus of vanity that you thought was veiled beneath the thick clouds of night; he sees it spreading its debilitating tentacles to every facet of your being. He sees all the parasites of iniquity eating away at the very framework of your soul. You may have fooled everyone else and even yourself, but you can’t fool God. So, why do you keep secrets from him? Why don’t you do as the woman with the issue of blood did, so long ago? Just fall down before him, and tell him all the truth, saying, “Lord, what have I done.” For once in your life be honest with God. Tell him, “False and full of sin I am. My heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked—you alone can know it. I am unholy, unclean, and all unrighteousness—infested with sin, eat up with corruption, and dying as I speak. Have mercy upon me, and forgive all my sin. Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.” Yes, be ashamed of your sins, and weep over them, for this is right. But do not attempt to hide them from God, for they were all pondered and performed in his sight. Pour out your heart before him, and tell him all that you are, all that you have been, and all that you have done. Fear not, for he will in no wise cast out the humble, honest, and contrite sinner. Confess what you are to God. Acknowledge your transgressions to God. Tell all the truth to God. Keep no secrets from God, because if you don’t bring them to light now, you and your secrets will remain in darkness forever. —Frank Hall

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