False Religion

“Though most loudly denounce salvation by works, when examined closely, all false religion is works religion. Augustus Toplady put it this way – “Every religion except one puts you upon doing something in order to recommend yourself to God…It is the business of all false religion to patch up a righteousness in which the sinner is to stand before God. But it is the business of the glorious gospel to bring near to us, by the hand of the Holy Spirit, a righteousness ready wrought, a robe of perfection ready made, wherein God’s pegasople, to all the purposes of justification and happiness, stand perfect and without fault before the throne.”

This is what I am saying – False religion always makes room for the flesh to glory. The great contest between the religion of the world and the religion of Christ is just this – Who is entitled to the praise and glory of the sinner’s salvation? Is salvation by free-will or by free-grace? To answer that question I make no appeal to the preachers and theologians of the past, though I thank God for what he has taught me through the writings of those faithful men who served him in past generations. And I make no appeal to the preachers and theologians of the present, though I truly thank God for his faithful witnesses who minister to my soul. I turn, instead to the Book of God, our only rule of faith and practice (Psa. 115:1).

Who is entitled to the praise and glory of salvation? What does the Bible say? “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake!”

Is salvation by the free-will of man, or by the free-grace of God? What does the Bible say? “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy!” (Rom. 9:16).

What do I mean when I use that vile, ugly, reprehensible term – “free-will”? I mean anything decided, determined, or done by the sinner to attain God’s salvation.” – Don Fortner

Born Again?

A spiritual fragment from the writings of William Gadsby:NPG D34258; William Gadsby by William Barnard, published by  L.I. Higham, after  F. Turner

When God, in his rich grace, takes a poor sinner manifestatively in hand, the first thing he does is to give life and light; when this divine life and light are communicated, the dead soul is quickened, and the dark soul is enlightened. We begin to see sin in the light of God’s countenance, and even our secret sins are laid open to the conscience, and we both see and feel that it is an evil and bitter thing to sin against God. The pure life and light of God, placed in the conscience against our vile deadness and darkness, horrifies the soul; and though we may not be able to account for our feelings and sight, we do find that we have such as we never had before, and such as we cannot get rid of. We now become, in soul and feeling, real sinners before a heart-searching God, and really tremble at his word; and in our souls we both see and feel that all our sins have been against a holy, just, and good God. We both feel and see that God is pure and we are impure, that God is just and we are unjust, and that there is an awful disparity between God and us, and we cry,

“What poor, vile sinner like me can stand before such a holy God, whose law I have broken in so many ways, and whose majesty I have so often insulted?”

A Debtor to Free Grace and Mercy

William Huntington“Let them feed on applause, and sing, of merit, who are perfect in the flesh; but, for my part, I hope to live and die a believing sinner, and must remain a debtor to free grace and mercy to all eternity; and as such, can never join the chorus with any who sing that ancient God-dethroning, self-exalting, and soul-damning, ditty of free-agency. This will be harped upon by many at the day of doom, Matt. xxv. 44; but will be condemned by the Judge of quick and dead. Sovereign mercy will erase it from the mind and memory of every songster in heaven; and retributive Justice will make conscience cry it down in hell: therefore, let us sing the song in time that grace will allow in eternity, we will sing of mercy and of judgment: my mind, my understanding, and my memory received this song under the twofold impression of the Holy Ghost; and I believe it will never be erased from my soul in this world, nor be prohibited to be sung in the next.” – William Huntington

Justified in Christ

“They that justify themselves before men are abomination in the sight of God, and those that charge him with being an austere man, reaping where he had not sowed, and gathering where he had not strawed, are condemned out of their own mouth; and so will they be who talk of free will, human power, inherent grace, salvation by works, and fleshly perfection; which is giving the lie to the testimony of heaven, which declares the perverseness of man’s will, the frailty of man’s nature, his corruption and enmity to God; that by works there is no flesh living that can be justified; and, so far from sinless perfection, that, from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot, there is no soundness, and that every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart is evil, only evil, and that continually.

These proud wretches contradict their Maker; they give the groaning confessions of all the saints the lie; they belie the verdict of their own thoughts, and the judgment and sentence of their own conscience; and, in effect, charge God with folly for sending a Savior, and providing an everlasting righteousness by him, when man’s state did not require it, and when human power and self-righteousness never stood in need of his being either righteousness or strength to them; all which counsel and clemency of heaven is viewed by them needless, or superfluous. These are the sort that appear outwardly righteous before men, but knows their hearts, and they will plead their performances even in the great day. “When saw we thee an hungry, and did not feed thee, thirsty, and gave thee no drink?” &c. “But these shall go away into everlasting punishment, for by their words they shall be condemned.”

We are also said to be justified in Christ; “for in him shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” Christ is our covenant head, in whom we are all chosen, and in whom we are all accepted; and to the fellowship of whom we are all called in one hope of our calling: to this “Shiloh the gathering of the people is to be;” and by him, and in him, the whole family of heaven and earth are called.” – William Huntington

Gospel Weapons

“The advocates for their own free will in opposition to sovereign grace have determined that the doctrine of fixed decrees in the divine mind concerning the future state of men is inconsistent with the liberty of their own wills and with the proper influence of precepts and promises, rewards and punishments. And, having quoted a number of precepts with considerations to enforce them (of which the Bible is full) they boast that they have gained their argument when in truth they have never touched the point in debate. We know and as firmly hold as any free willer on earth that all men are under moral government where precepts and promises, exhortations, warnings, etc. have their proper place and ought to influence us in all our conduct. And I believe from the bottom of my heart that God never did nor ever will punish any but the guilty, and that he will finally reward every man according to his works. But in the present controversy the true state of the question is this, viz., Whether the whole plan of God’s government and the final issue of every action through the universe has not been known and fixed in his counsels from the beginning so that nothing can be put to it nor anything taken from it? Eccl. iii, 14. 

Or whether many events are not held in suspense and uncertainty in his infinite mind till they are decided by the free will power of men? We hold the first, they the last side of this question. But instead of attending to the true state of the controversy and instead of referring the decision of it to the divine oracles, tradition and corruption has carried them into the way which this writer pursues of representing our doctrine to be that God decrees some men to misery in the same manner that he does others to happiness. Yea, this slanderer, in imitation of those who have gone before him, sets reprobation foremost and would have people believe that we hold God’s first design to be the damnation of multitudes and then secondly the irresistible salvation of a number! Hoping no doubt by these horrid colorings to guard people sufficiently against all the Gospel weapons which are appointed to pull down the strongholds that are raised against the knomledge of God and to cast down the imaginations which keep men’s thoughts too high to yield their all to a meek and lowly Jesus, 2 Cor. x, 4, 5. Many in latter ages have carried their imaginations so high on this subject as,

To assume a dignity to themselves that they will not allow to the eternal God, for they claim a self-determining power in their own wills while they deny it to the Most High and insist upon it that his choice of some men to salvation rather than others is from either a foresight or aftersight of good dispositions and good doings in them more than others, so making that to be the cause of his choice which he declares is the effect of it and representing that God is influenced in his work by motives without himself at the same time that they hold to a power to determine all their own actions within themselves. Can any imagination ever be entertained more absurd or more contrary to Holy Writ than these are! See Matt. xi, 25-28; Rom. viii, 29, 30; Eph. i, 4, 5; 1 Pet. i, 2; 1 John iv, 19.” Isaac Backus, The Sovereign Decrees of God

Does God Control the Minds of Man?

“It is however a specific assertion that God controls men’s thoughts. Proverbs 21:1 says ‘The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord s the river of water: He turns it whithersoever He will.’ This verse states the general principle, and a particular example is found in Ezra 7:6, “And the king [of Persia] granted him [Ezra] all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him.”God controls all governmental policies and decisions. Not only did God cause Pharaoh to hate the Israelites, he caused Cyrus to send the captives back to build Jerusalem. He also caused Adolph Hitler to march into Russia, and he caused Lyndon Johnson to escalate a war in Vietnam. God turns the minds of a ruler in whatever direction he wants. If now we have hesitated to say that Proverbs 16:1 asserts that God controls a man’s thoughts as well as his speech, Proverbs 21:1 says so clearly. God controls the thoughts, plans, and decisions of men.”  from Predestination by Gordon H. Clark

This bombshell knocks “free-will” flat!

It is fundamentally necessary and wholesome for Christians to know that God foreknows nothing contingently, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His own immutable, eternal and infallible will. This bombshell knocks “free-will” flat, and utterly shatters it; so that those who want to assert it must either deny my bombshell, or pretend not to notice it, or find some other way of dodging it.

Surely it was you, my good Erasmus, who a moment ago asserted that God is by nature just, and kindness itself? If this is true, does it not follow that He is immutably just and kind? that, as His nature remains unchanged to all eternity, so do His justice and kindness? And what is said of His justice and kindness must be said also of His knowledge, His wisdom, His goodness, His will, and the other Divine attributes. But if it is religious, godly and wholesome, to affirm these things of God, as you do, what has come over you, that now you should contradict yourself by affirming that it is irreligious, idle and vain to say that God foreknows by necessity? You insist that we should learn the immutability of God’s will, while forbidding us to know the immutably of His foreknowledge! Do you suppose that He does not will what He foreknows, or that He does not foreknow what He wills? If he wills what He foreknows, His will is eternal and changeless, because His nature is so. From which it follows, by resistless logic, that all we do, however it may appear to us to be done mutably and contingently, is in reality done necessarily and immutably in respect of God’s will. For the will of God is effective and cannot be impeded, since power belongs to God’s nature; and His wisdom is such that He cannot be deceived. Since, then His will is not impeded, what is done cannot but be done where, when, how, as far as, and by whom, He foresees and wills…

I could wish, indeed, that a better term was available for our discussion than the accepted one, necessity, which cannot accurately be used of either man’s will or God’s. Its meaning is too harsh, and foreign to the subject; for it suggests some sort of compulsion, and something that is against one’s will, which is no part of the view under debate. This will, whether it be God’s or man’s does what it does, good or bad, under no compulsion, but just as it wants or pleases, as if totally free. Yet the will of God, which rules over our mutable will, is changeless and sure – as Boetius sings, “Immovable Thyself, Thou movement giv’st to all;” and our will, principally because of its corruption, can do no good of itself. The reader’s understanding, therefore, must supply what the word itself fails to convey, from his knowledge of the intended signification – the immutable will of God on the one hand, and the impotence of our corrupt will on the other. Some have called it necessity of immutability, but the phrase is both grammatically and theologically defective.” – Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will

Does not the eye guide the hands and feet?

Philpot writes,

The Lord knows what we are, as so deeply, so awfully sunk in the Adam fall.

Adam was wise as well as upright; but with the fall both were gone as in a moment; for the same awful crash which broke to pieces his innocency wrecked and ruined his wisdom, and thus he became a fool as well as a sinner. This folly we inherit from him; for “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” (Prov. 22:15) God, then, as perfectly acquainted with the folly of our mind, with our wretched ignorance and inability to find out the way of salvation, or to walk in it when found, has mercifully and graciously given to us One in the courts of bliss who shall be to us and for us far beyond all that we have lost, and has therefore made him our “wisdom.” “It hath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;” (Col. 1:19) and therefore a fullness of heavenly wisdom he communicates out of his fullness to his believing people. I do not like exactly to say that his wisdom is theirs by imputation, and yet there is a sense in which it may be called such.

Take for instance the figure of head and members. Is not our head, in a sense, wisdom for every member of the body?

Does it not bear the responsibility of every movement, so that all the wisdom or skill which any member possesses may be considered as being in the head?

Does not the eye guide the hands and feet?

Does not the ear hear for the whole body?

Does not the brain think and the tongue speak for every member?

Thus we see naturally that all our wisdom lies in our head, and the wisdom of our head is put to the account of all the members. So, spiritually, all our heavenly wisdom is in our covenant Head. The people of God see and feel their ignorance and folly; their inability to guide their own feet into the way of truth and peace. Their daily experience convinces them how easily they are entangled in the snares of sin and Satan; how dark their mind, how hard their heart, how carnal their frame, when the Lord does not communicate light, life, and power to their souls. To remedy then and overcome these miserable evils under which they groan and sigh, being burdened, Jesus Christ is of God made unto them wisdom; so that when the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ looks upon his dear Son in the courts of bliss, he views him as their representative head, and sees all the wisdom that they need stored up in his eternal fullness. Thus, as he does not impute to them their sins because of Christ’s righteousness, so he does not impute unto them their follies because of Christ’s wisdom. “Ye are wise in Christ,” says the apostle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 4:10)–wise by your union with him. Now out of this wisdom which dwells in Christ without measure, he communicates to his people. They have none of their own. What they have is freely given to them liberally and bountifully, without stint and without upbraiding.

But it may be as well to glance at some of the effects of this wisdom as divinely communicated to the saints of God. To look unto Jesus by the eye of faith; to see him as the Son of God, “able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him;” and to view the treasures of love and grace which are stored up in his blood and righteousness, is also a part of this wisdom. To depart from all evil and seek all that is good; to obey the precepts as well as believe the promises; to walk tenderly, cautiously, and circumspectly in the fear of God; to read and pray and meditate; to commune with their own heart, and be ever seeking divine teaching, is a part also of this wisdom. In fact, this wisdom is indispensable for every right movement in heart, lip, and life; for every good word and work; for our conduct in the church and in the world; and for everybody becoming our holy profession. This the people of God deeply feel. Well do they know that not a single truth can they see aright except by seeing light in his light. Not a snare can they shun, or danger avoid, but by his warning voice or guiding hand; not a doctrine can they understand, not a promise believe, not a precept obey, except he who of God is made unto them wisdom, is pleased to communicate it to their heart. But, by looking to him, and receiving out of his fullness supplies of divine instruction, which he communicates to them through the word of his grace, as made life and spirit to their hearts, they are made wise unto salvation; and thus from their living and spiritual union with him, wisdom flows into their bosom out of his fullness, as in the figure of the vine, sap flows out of the stem into the branch. Thus, as he is their wisdom representatively in the courts of bliss, being their Counselor and Advocate who pleads their cause, so he is their wisdom efficiently, by the communication of this wisdom they have comes out of his fullness. And he is their wisdom also, as being the end and object of all the wisdom they possess or require, for the highest, greatest, and best of all wisdom is to know him and the power of his resurrection; to know experimentally the beauty and glory of his divine Person; the efficacy of his atoning blood and of his justifying righteousness; and, above all things, to know our happy and eternal interest in all that he is, in all that he has to the Church of God. [source]