Sermon #1042 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: FREE-WILL OR FREE GRACE?
Text: Psalm 115:1
Subject: Salvation by Grace Alone
Date: Friday Morning – September 4, 1992
Nothing in all the world is more foolish, more debasing to humanity, more dishonoring to God, and more assuredly damning to the souls of men than idolatry. It is pathetic to see men and women worship gods that men have made, dumb gods, made by the hands of ignorant men! (Read vv. 4-8). Idolatry is a hideous evil.
Illustration: The Miaian Ruins
Mexicans Worshipping the Virgin Mary.
Cold Spring, Ky.
But the most abominable form of idolatry in the world is that which Paul calls “will worship,” the worship of yourself (Col. 2:33). Those who attribute salvation, in whole or in part, to the will, work, or worth of man are the most abominably evil idolaters in the world, for they worship themselves. Freewillism is the worship of self. Legalism is the worship of self. Free-will, works religion makes man his own Savior, for it makes the will, work, or worth of man the determining factor in salvation.
Now hear me well – If your salvation, in whole or in part, is looked upon by you as something that is dependent upon or determined by your will or your works, you are a lost, Christless soul, an idolater. You may talk about God and grace, Christ and redemption, the Holy Spirit and regeneration, but you really worship yourself. You trust in your own decision. Your confidence is in your personal goodness. Your peace is derived not from what Christ has done, but from what you have done. In your opinion the thing that separates you from the damned is not the will of God, the work of Christ, and the call of the Spirit, but your own will, your own work, and your own worth.
Tonight, I want to go directly into the dark, idolatrous chambers of your heart and destroy your gods. My subject is Free-will or Free Grace? Arminianism, free-will, works religion, has three characteristics by which it may always be identified. It goes by many different denominational names; but it always has these three characteristics, no matter what denominational name it wears.
1. False Religion Always has An Exalted View of Man.
The Word of God declares that man is dead in trespasses and sins, that all men are guilty, depraved, condemned, and helpless by nature, that there is none that doeth good,” that no man left to himself can or will come to Christ, trusting him alone as Savior and Lord. Is that, or is it not, the language of Holy Scripture? It most assuredly is! Yet, all free-will, works religion says that – “Though man is depraved, he is not dead, though he is lost, he is not helpless. Though he sins, he is not utterly sinful. Though he is condemned, he still has his free-will. Man needs God’s help. He cannot save himself without God’s help; but his eternal destiny, his salvation, depends upon the work of his own will! It is not God, but the sinner himself, who determines whether he will be saved.”
2. False Religion Always gives A Demeaning View of God.
God says, “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself.” (Ps. 50:21). Arminions, freewillers, idolaters think that God is like man, weak, subject to change, frustrated.
· They do not deny that God is sovereign, but they talk of “limited sovereignty,” making the Creator in some things (in most things!) to be subject to the creature!
· They do not deny the death of Christ or redemption by his blood; but they limit the merits of his death and the efficacy of his blood, making the ultimate factor in redemption to be the will of man!
· They do not deny the necessity of the Spirit’s call; but they make the call of the Spirit to be nothing more than an influence upon the emotions of men that men have the power to either negate or make effectual by their own wills!
3. False Religion always Gives Sinners Something To Do To Get, Keep, or Improve God’s Favor Upon Them.
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 people, 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 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 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 – (Ps. 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.
NOTE: Free-will is the religion of Lucifer! (Isa. 14:12-14).
What do I mean when I use that glorious, God-honoring, all-important term “free-grace”? I mean everything decided, determined and done by almighty God to bestow salvation upon his elect. Free-grace is the sovereign, voluntary, eternal, immutable, unconditional, uncaused, uncontrolled, gratuitous bounty of God, by which salvation in all its branches is accomplished. It is this grace that reigns unto the eternal life of chosen sinners through the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ – (Rom. 5:21).
I want us to briefly examine every aspect of salvation as it is setforth in the Holy Scriptures to see if there is anything respecting the salvation of a sinner that is ascribed, in whole or in part, to the will of man, the work of man, or the worth of man, or if salvation is in its entirety ascribed to the free-grace of God alone.
Illustration: A local Campbellite preacher recently wrote “The Bible says that ‘salvation is by grace’; but it never says, salvation is by grace alone.” He is right. The Bible nowhere says it; but it everywhere teaches it!
Proposition: It is my intention to show you from the Word of God that God alone deserves and shall have all the praise of salvation because salvation is the work of God alone.
Divisions: Let’s look at what God says about salvation. For the sake of keeping our thoughts in order, we will look at salvation from three directions:
1. What God Has Done For Us.
2. What God Is Doing In Us.
3. What God Shall Do With Us.
NOTE: As we open the Word of God, if you find any place where any part of salvation is attributed to man’s free-will, I urge you never to hear me, on any of these brethren again; for your salvation is by man’s free-will, we do not know God. We are all false prophets. However, if salvation is altogether ascribed to God, then you must never again hear a preacher of free-will, for the free-willer does not know God, He is a false prophet.
I. First, let’s look back at What God Has Done For Us.
Salvation begins in eternity. Long, long before God began his work of grace in us he began his work of grace for us. If your thoughts about salvation are limited to what you experience in time, you have a very limited and perverse view of God’s work. Salvation includes the past, the present, and the future I have been saved; I am being saved; and I shall be saved.
With regard to what God has done for us, is salvation attributed to the free-will of man, or to the free-grace of God? Let’s see!
A. In surveying this momentous, glorious thing called “salvation,” let’s begin where God began, with the eternal election of his people in Christ.
To whom are we indebted for this, the first of all spiritual blessings? Pride says, “To me!” “Election must be based upon something God foresaw in me!” “Faith joins with the Word of God and says, “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy and for thy truth’s sake!”
“Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For, Lord, that could not be;
This heart would still refuse Thee,
Hadst Thou not chosen me.
My heart owns none before Thee;
For Thy rich grace I thirst;
This knowing, if I love Thee,
Thou must have loved me first.”
Hear the testimony of the Apostle Paul – (Rom. 11:5-6).
1. “There is a remnant.”
2. “According to the election of grace.”
3. “And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.”
“Grace ceases to be grace unless it is totally and absolutely irrespective of anything and everything, whether good or bad, in the objects of it” – Augustus Toplady.
We affirm that God’s election of some to salvation and eternal life was a work of unconditional grace, because grace and conditionality are two incompatible apposites. The one totally destroys the other. They cannot exist together, anymore than two objects can occupy the same place at the same time. If you slip in works, you push grace out. If you establish grace, you push works out.
B. God’s next work for us revealed in the Scriptures was the everlasting covenant of grace, ordered in all things and sure from eternity.
Are the blessings of that covenant made between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit conditioned upon our works, or are they conditioned upon God’s work? Is the immutability of the covenant determined by man’s free-will, or by God’s sovereign will? Are repentance, faith, obedience and perseverance conditions of the covenant, or fruits of the covenant? What saith the Scripture? (Heb. 8:8-12; II Tim. 1:9-12; Rom. 9:9-19).
Illustration: The Reading of the Will
1. The Covenant was Established in Eternity.
2. The Covenant was Put Into Force at Calvary.
3. The Covenant is Read in the Preaching of the Gospel.
4. The Covenant is Received by Faith.
5. Faith itself is a Covenant Gift of Grace (Eph. 2:8; Jer. 32:38-41).
What do we say, with regard to God’s Covenant and all the blessings of it? Was God’s covenant established upon the will of man or upon the will of God? The will of God! Was God’s covenant put into force by the work of Christ, or does it wait upon the work of man? The work of Christ! Does God’s covenant recognize the worth of man, or the worth of Christ? The work of Christ! Is God’s covenant the result of man’s free-will, or of God’s free-grace? God’s free-grace!
C. Then, in the fullness of time, God sent his Son into the world to suffer and die as our Substitute, to make atonement for our sins and redeem us from the curse of the law.
Read the Scriptures with me – (Isa. 53:6, 8-10; II Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:12; I Pet. 1:18-20; II Pet. 2:24; Rev. 5:9-10).
NOTE: The whole doctrine of the gospel stands or falls upon this one point – “How that Christ died for our sins, according to the Sccriptures!” (I Cor. 15:3). Be sure you understand the doctrine of the Scriptures. I am not preaching a theory of the atonement. I am preaching the biblical doctrine of the atonement!
1. Christ died by the will of God!
2. Christ died as a Substitute for God’s Elect! “For the transgression of my people!”
3. Christ accomplished the redemption of his people when he died on the cross by satisfying Divine justice for us!
4. Christ’s work of redemption is a finished work of grace!
“Tis done! The great transaction’s done,
I am my Lord’s, and He is mine!”
· To be redeemed is to be forgiven!
· To be redeemed is to be justified!
· To be redeemed is to be accepted!
Where in the Bible are these things said to be the possession of all men? Where are these great blessings of redemption attributed to the free-will of man? These works of redemption are the works of God’s free-grace alone!
Redeemed sinners in heaven, what say you to the great and glorious work of redemption? Hear their answer – “Thou art worthy, O Lamb of God, for thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation!”
Redeemed sinners upon the earth, what say you about the redemption of your souls? “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake!”
These are the great works of God for us, by which we are saved. Not one of them are dependent upon or determined by man’s free-will. They are all the works of God’s free-grace in Christ.
· Electing Grace!
· Covenant Grace!
· Redeeming Grace!
“To God be the glory, great things He hath done!”
II. Secondly, I want us to briefly consider What God Is Doing In Us. (Tit. 3:4-7).
This is the experimental part of salvation. It is as essential as election and redemption. As the work of God for us is altogether of grace, so the work of God in us is a work of grace alone. Listen to the word of our God – “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profitteth nothing!” (John 6:63).
A. Regeneration is a work of grace alone – (Eph. 2:1-4).
B. The Conviction of Sin, Righteousness and Judgment is the work of grace alone (John 16:8-13).
C. Faith in Christ is the work of grace alone (Eph. 1:19; 2:8; Col. 2:12).
NOTE: When we declare faith to be necessary to salvation, the hardshell cries, “There, is not believing a work? Have you not slipped in works?” No! Faith is God’s work in us!
D. Good works are the work of grace (Gal. 5:23-24; Eph. 2:10).
“It is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure!”
E. Perseverance is the work of grace – (John 10:27-28; Phil. 1:6; I Pet. 1:5).
We believe in the perseverance of the saints because we believe in the perseverance of the Savior.
F. Yes, even Sanctification is the work of grace alone.
Let me camp here for just a minute. Contrary to the report of some, I do know the difference between sanctification and justification. I know wherein the two differ; and I know wherein they agree. They agree in this – Both are works of grace!
Sanctification is holiness. To be sanctified is to be made holy. This great work of God is never once ascribed to the will, or work of man. It is always ascribed to the grace of God alone. Grace makes unholy men and women holy.
· By Imputed Righteousness in Justification.
· By Imparted Righteousness in Sanctification.
To be sanctified is to be made a saint. It is not the pope who makes men saints. Neither do sinners make themselves saints. Grace alone makes sinners to be saints!
NOTE: The word “sanctify” is used 6 times in the N.T. The word “sanctification” is used 5 times. “Sanctified” is used 16 times. But never even once, in these 27 places is sanctification ascribed to the will or works of man. It is always ascribed to God and his glorious grace.
· “Through the truth” (John 17:19).
· “By faith” in Christ (Acts 26:18).
· “By the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15:16).
· “In Christ” (I Cor. 1:2).
· “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:11).
· “By the will of God, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ” (Heb. 10:10).
· And “by God the Father” (Jude 1).
But never, not even once, in the New Testament is sanctification said to be the result of any man’s will or work. It is the work of God’s free-grace!
What does God say about the work he is doing in us? He says, “My grace is sufficient for thee!” What have saved men in the past said about it? “By the grace of God I am what I am!” And what do you and I say about it? “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake!”
III. Lastly, think for a minute about What God shall Do With Us.
The Lord is not done with us yet. There are a few things yet to be done. But none of them depend upon us!
A. Soon the Lord God will bring us safely across the swelling Jordan into our heavenly Canaan (Ex. 15:16-18).
Our dear Savior, who has led us through the wilderness of life, will not leave us at the edge of the river. He will bring us into the land of rest. That heavenly city standing before us…
· Is built upon a Foundation of Grace.
· Has a Door of Grace.
· Is an Inheritance of Grace.
As God brought Israel into Canaan, not for their righteousness, but for his name’s sake, so he will bring us into glory, not for our righteousness, but for his name’s sake.
Illustration: “He’s got more to lose than me – If I perish, I’ll lose my soul, but God, He’d lose his glory!”
Illustration: ____ ___ – “Thank God for that Man in heaven! Thank God for Christ! O how I thank God for the blood of Christ!” – “I’m still looking for that man in heaven!”
B. In the Resurrection Day the Lord Jesus Christ will complete his work of grace for us, in us, and with us!
1. There will be a glorious Resurrection!
· Christ is coming soon!
· He will unite our bodies with our souls!
· He will conform us to himself perfectly!
2. There will be a glorious Judgment!
That judgment will not be to decide who shall enter into heaven, but to demonstrate who is worthy and why! In that great day our God will display in us, to wondering worlds of men, angels and devils, The wonders of his matchless grace!
3. There will be a glorious Presentation!
“Then cometh the end!”
“Lo, I and the children!”
“Holy, without blame, before him!”
4. There will be a glorious Introduction!
The Lord Jesus Christ will introduce us, a great, glorified multitude, which no man can number, into everlasting glory. There we shall forever increase in the knowledge of and love for, and praise to the Lord Jesus Christ.
This inheritance of heavenly glory, whatever it is, is an inheritance of free-grace! It is ours by…
· Eternal Predestination! (Eph. 1:11).
· Lawful Purchase! (Heb. 6:20).
· The Gift of God! (Rom. 6:23).
In heaven’s everlasting glory this shall be our endless melodious song of praise – “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake!”
The whole work of salvation is the work of God’s free-grace by Jesus Christ. He alone shall have the praise for it. “This is the Word of the LORD…Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the LORD of hosts… He shall bring forth the headstone (for the completion of his temple) with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it!…(His) hands have laid the foundation of (his) house; his hands shall also finish it!” (Zech. 4:6-9).
The believer boasts not of his free-will, but of God’s free-grace alone. (I Cor. 1:29-31; Phil. 3:3).
· Grace Chose Me!
· Grace Redeemed Me!
· Grace Called Me!
· Grace Keeps Me!
· Grace Shall Bring Me Home to God!
· To God alone I ascribe all praise for his free-grace. “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake!”
1. Let every worshipper of his free-will be warned!
If you trust your will, your works or your worth to any degree, you are yet without life before God – (Gal. 5:1-4).
“You are an infidel, if you trust your own righteousness… You have, in the sight of God, neither part nor lot in this matter. You are spiritually dead while you pretend to live. Until you are endued with faith in Christ’s righteousness, your body is the living coffin of a dead soul! A Christian is a believer not in himself but in Christ.” (Augustus Toplady).
Cast off your righteousness. Come to Christ. Trust his blood and righteousness. If you do, you are on heir of free-grace. You too will sing – “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake!”
2. Let every believer make a clean, public, permanent break with all false, free-will, works religion – (Rev. 18:4; II Cor. 6:17-7:1). Come out of Babylon! Come out, and God will receive you!
3. Let every ransomed sinner be humbled (I Cor. 4:7).
Let it be ours ever to extol the matchless free-grace of God in Christ – “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake!”