Title: Who Shall Be Saved?
Text: Mark 10:26-27
Readings: Office: Paul Winderl Auditorium: Ron Wood
Subject: Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility
Date: Sunday Evening - March 1, 1998
Tape # U-55
Here are three facts clearly illustrated in the story of the rich young ruler. These three facts are illustrated here; but they are distinctly taught throughout the Word of God.
1. All men are responsible to repent and believe the gospel.
2. No one can repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. Salvation is by the free and sovereign grace of God in Christ.
Just as our Lord’s disciples were astonished and confused by his doctrine, I am sure that some of you are as well. You have heard many conflicting teachings about salvation and the gospel of the grace of God, about who shall and shall not be saved, about God’s sovereignty and your responsibility.
If the letters I receive and conversations I have with people from literally all over the world are an indication of things, such confusion is universal. Satan, it seems, has managed to deceive the whole world. If someone does get some grasp of God’s sovereignty, the fact that we are responsible to repent and believe the gospel seems to be an utter contradiction.
In this message, I want to answer just one question. I am going to speak plainly and clearly, simply and distinctly. I know that, even though all men are responsible to repent and believe the on the Lord Jesus Christ, with men that is impossible. And I know that with God all things are possible. But I want to know Who Shall Be Saved? Does the Word of God tell us?
Look with me at two texts of Scripture. Both are inspired. Both are in the Word of God. Both were written for our learning and admonition. The first text is…
The prophet Jonah understood this doctrine. He learned where in the only place in man can learn it, in the belly of hell!
What a glorious message! God saves sinners! Salvation does not in any way depend upon us. It is God’s work alone! Salvation is not the work of man; and it is not the work of God and man. “Salvation is of the LORD." We rejoice in that glorious, delightful gospel truth, taught throughout the Word of God. “Salvation is of the LORD."
· He planned it.
· He purchased it.
· He performs it.
· He preserves it.
· He perfects it.
· He alone shall be praised for it!
Now look at …
That is good news indeed! Anyone in all the world who calls upon the name of the Lord, who trusts the Lord Jesus Christ, shall be saved. The promise is made without condition, qualification, or exception. If I trust the Lord Jesus Christ, I shall be saved. If you trust him, you shall be saved. It is written, “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.”
In Romans 9:13-18 we have a clear declaration of God’s sovereign grace. In Romans 10:13 we are given a declaration regarding man’s responsibility. Both are true. Both need to be understood. Both must be believed. And both must be preached with clarity.
Proposition: God almighty is totally sovereign in the salvation of sinners; and we are, every one of us, responsible to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
These two facts are, as I intend to show you, clearly revealed in Holy Scripture. We cannot believe without God’s sovereign grace. Faith is the gift of God the fruit of his Spirit, and the operation of his grace. Yet, God’s sovereign grace will not save us if we do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Regrettably, there are some who have such a distorted understanding of God’s sovereignty and the doctrines of grace that they become hard, uncaring, and negative in their preaching and in their attitudes. They are opposed to everything and in favor of nothing. Like big wrecking balls, they know how to tear down anything; but they do not know how to build. They are anti-missionary, anti-evangelistic, and anti-responsibility. They seem to care more about debating, defending, and protecting the doctrines of grace than they do about seeing sinners saved by the grace of God. Really, some men preach like they are afraid some of the non-elect might get saved! What a pity! Such a spirit is not of God. It is not the spirit of Christ, or of his apostles, or of the New Testament.
Then, there are others who totally deny God’s sovereignty, his purpose of grace in election and predestination, and the effectual, irresistible power of his grace in salvation. All they can see in the Bible are those words “whosoever will.” They interpret everything in the Bible in the light (or in their case, darkness) of those two words. No matter what you say to them, no matter what text you read to them, their response is, “I believe in ‘whosoever will.’” They preach human responsibility in such a way as to make responsibility mean ability. They make the will of man, rather than the will of God the determining factor in salvation. I detest that doctrine. It is no of God, but of the devil. Lucifer was the first free-willer (Isa. 14). I contend that free-will religion is the religion of Lucifer. It is a doctrine that makes man his own Savior and promotes the worship, adulation, and honor of man’s will, rather than the worship, adulation, and honor of God. It puts God’s will under the dominion of man’s will and makes man to be the God of God!
In this message, I want us to look into the Word of God and see what God says. Let’s bring both our opinions and our reason in subjection to the Word of God (Isa. 8:20). Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to submit to the Word of God?
The Bible teaches these two facts. They are as plain as the noonday sun. You cannot deny either of them without denying the Word of God. And you cannot really believe either of them as they are taught in the Scriptures without believing both of them.
· God has mercy on whom he will have mercy.
· “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Who Shall Be Saved? In order to answer that question fully and honestly from the Word of God, I have to give you five answers.
I. No one can ever be saved unless they are chosen by God; and ALL GOD’S ELECT SHALL BE SAVED.
There is such a thing as the election of grace. There are some men and women who were chosen, predestinated, and ordained to eternal life before the world began.
Election is not salvation; but it is unto salvation, and is as much a necessary part of salvation as redemption and regeneration. Election is the guarantee of salvation. Election is the eternal, unchangeable, unalterable will, purpose, and pleasure of God to save the people of his love. And God’s will must be done. His pleasure shall be fulfilled. His purpose must be accomplished.
I do not know who the elect are; neither do you; but God does! He knows who they are, where they are, what it will take to save them, and when he will do it. It is not possible for even one of God’s elect to perish. Those who are loved by him with an everlasting love cannot perish in hell under his wrath! Those whom he pedestinated unto salvation cannot perish until God ceases to be God.
Illustrations: Ken W. and The Nigerian Runner
II. No sinner can ever be saved without the sin-atoning blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; and EVERY SINNER BOUGHT, REDEEMED, AND PURCHASED BY THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST SHALL BE SAVED.
With Paul, I cry, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14). I glory in the cross of Christ because it is the salvation of my soul. I hang evrything on the glorious gospel doctrine of the crucified Substitute.
The Lord Jesus Christ cannot fail to save those for whom he bled and died upon the cursed tree (Isa. 42:4). The cross of Christ can never be discovered a miscarriage.
We were once condemned and lost. Now we glory in the cross.
Since Christ’s blood, the crimson tide, Has God’s justice satisfied -
All for whom the Savior died, By His blood, are justified!
All for whom He lives above Shall be conquered by His love!
He who vanquished death and hell Shall in saving grace prevail!
Chosen sinners, bought by blood, Called by grace, shall come to God.
Chosen, redeemed, and called by grace, Robed in perfect righteousness,
The great hosts of God’s elect In Christ Jesus are perfect.
Glory, glory in the cross! For Christ count all things but loss.
By our Savior’s death we live. To Him all our praise we give!
“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.” That means many things; but it certainly means that…
A. All for whom Christ was made to be sin shall be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5:21).
B. All who were redeemed by Christ from the curse of the law are forever freed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13).
C. All for whom the Son of God obtained eternal redemption shall have eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12).
D. The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s dear Son, was not shed in vain!
III. It is not possible for anyone to be saved apart from the effectual, irresistible call of the Holy Spirit; and ALL WHO ARE CALLED BY HE SPIRIT OF GOD SHALL BE SAVED.
I know that there is a general call that goes out to all who hear the gospel. It is written, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” But there is another call, a personal, effectual, irresistible, saving call. This effectual call, by which life and faith are produced in chosen, redeemed sinners by the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit, is both the fruit and evidence of God’s election and Christ’s redemption.
To be called is to be regenerated, born-again, raised from spiritual death to spiritual life in Christ by the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit. That will take a little bit more than the power of your free-will. This work of regeneration requires the sovereign power of God’s irresistible grace.
Illustrations: Mephibosheth! - Zachaeus! - Lazarus!
All who were chosen by God the Father in eternal election and all who were redeemed by God the Son at Calvary shall, at God’s appointed time, be brought to Christ by the irresistible, saving operations, power, and grace of God the Holy Spirit. And they can never be lost.
IV. It is not possible for a sinner to be saved without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; yet, EVERY SINNER WHO BELIEVES ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST SHALL BE SAVED.
There is absolutely no contradiction between that statement and everything else I have said. Faith in Christ is the proof and evidence of the Father’s election, the Son’s redemption, and the Spirit’s call.
We make our calling and election sure by trusting Christ! If you trust Christ, your faith in him is the result of God’s grace in you; and God, who cannot lie, declares that you are saved.
I am calling upon you, right now, to do what you are responsible under God to do, what only God can enable you to do, yet what you must do. I am calling upon you who hear my voice to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
· Not to Seek Him, but to Believe Him!
· Not to Pray, but o Believe!
· Not to Feel, but to Believe!
· Not to Mourn, but to Believe!
· Not to Do, but to Believe!
NOTE: Put nothing between yourself and Christ; and let no one else put anything between you and Christ. Anything that keeps you from Christ, or comes between you and Christ is idolatry and damning.
Illustration: The Handkerchief
Listen to me now. I am telling you upon the authority of God’s Word that if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you are saved!
· God the Father elected you to salvation.
· God the Son redeemed you and purchased salvation for you.
· God the Holy Spirit has called you.
· And you shall not come into condemnation!
V. No one can be saved who does not persevere and endure to the end (Matt. 10:22); but ALL WHO ARE KEPT AND PRESERVED IN CHRIST BY THE POWER AND GRACE OF GOD SHALL ENDURE TO THE END AND BE SAVED.
· Not one of the elect can be lost, because election is God’s work.
· Not one of the redeemed can be lost, because redemption is God’s work.
· Not one of the called can be lost, because the calling is God’s work.
Application: This is what God says in his Word - “Salvation is of the Lord!” “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” You cannot read your election until you believe; but you never could or would believe without God’s election. When time shall be no more, when all things are finished, when all believers are with Christ in glory and all the damned are in hell, this will be the conclusion of the matter to the praise, honor, and glory of our great God… “The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (Rom. 11:7).