To-night I shall read the ninth verse of the first chapter of second Timothy: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
The salvation of sinners ought to be of great interest to all the human family. I want to notice the difference between religious people on the subject of salvation. When I speak of religious people I do not mean that everybody who is religious bas the religion of the Lord Jesus. It is a well known fact to most people of the civilized nations that according to history man has always been religious. We might say that there are many religions, yet there are really but two: one is the true, which is pure and undefiled, the other is false. I want to tell you tonight of things that you have heard at revival meetings. I have been at revival meetings, and speak from personal knowledge. Doubtless you have heard preachers say at those meetings: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve,” without giving the connection. This phrase is abstracted from its dependent clauses, and we cannot get its meaning without the context. Revivalists say that you can choose to serve God or the devil; that this passage of Scripture teaches the doctrine of the freedom of man’s will. That the Scriptures may speak for themselves, let us turn to the twenty-fourth chapter of Joshua, the only place where this language occurs. Joshua was speaking to the children of Israel, hear him: “If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We positively know that this Scripture does not teach that the children of Israel or anybody else can make a choice between God and the devil at pleasure, but it does teach that worldly religionists, who do not worship God in spirit, nor know how to worship the true and living God, can choose between the different false ways. It made no difference with Joshua which false god those Israelites worshiped, if they could not worship the true God; with him one false god was just as good as another. Why do preachers at revivals, and on other occasions when they are trying to incite people to join their churches, so misrepresent the Scriptures! Another Scripture I shall name, which no doubt you all have heard at revival meetings: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” and sometimes they quote it your own soul’s salvation. In using this extract from the exhortation of the apostle Paul as he wrote to the saints at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons, they have diverted it from its true meaning by not giving the other portions of Scripture that show the force of language. The writer follows up this declaration closely by giving the reason why they should work out their own salvation. Now notice carefully what follows: “For [meaning because, a very good reason,] it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” This clearly proves that salvation does not depend upon creature work. The will and the do is of the Lord; he should have all the praise. I have often been asked the question by preachers and many others, Are you saved! My answer has been, I hope that Jesus saved me when his blood was shed for the sins of his people. A great many people reverse the order of the Scriptures in regard to the saving and calling; they claim that this Bible which I hold in my hand contains the call of God to every man of Adam’s race. The Scriptures are the testimony of the Word, and testify of God’s truth, yet it does not make the call to dead sinners; the Word alone exercises the power to call sinners unto himself. Some say that the call precedes salvation, but the apostle declares that they are saved before they are called. This agrees with the teaching of other portions of Scripture. Some say that after they are called and saved that they have perfected themselves by righteous living, in doing good, keeping the law, praying often, until they have become sanctified, after which they do not commit any sin whatever. I met a man once in the month of August, who said to me: “Sir, since the 23rd of last April I have not committed any sin; on that day I was sanctified.” My reply to him was that he was better than the apostle Paul ever was while he was on earth, for he did not claim to be above sinning. God’s order about things is always the reverse of man’s. The Scriptures declare that God’s people are “sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.” You see that the “holy calling” of God manifests to poor sinners that they have been saved a long time ago, with an everlasting salvation. This knowledge made known to them causes them to rejoice with joy unspeakable. The prophet says of the Savior: “He bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” Yes, hundreds of years before he was manifested in the flesh to put away their sins by the shedding of his own blood. That we had no power to accomplish that salvation, or to aid in any way whatever, is evident. The prophet speaks of salvation as being appointed of God for walls and for bulwarks. Salvation is indeed a strong fortress for all who trust in Him. Especially is this true to the conscience of all believers in this gospel day. The age of its appointment and its accomplishment is great compared to our short mortal life. It makes the heart glad to know that these things are revealed unto us by his Spirit. That there is only one way of salvation for sinners, is au established truth; that way is not through the work of them who are saved, but through the work of the Savior. He is rightly called the Savior, because he saves. I shall refer you to the language of Paul to Titus, as proof of the way of salvation and the manner of its accomplishment: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which be shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Savior.” This is good and plain proof, so plain that any person ought to be able to understand, yet many will not take it as proof. The way of salvation is through mercy, the mercy of God, and not through our works or because of our works. This fulfills the prophecy of the psalmist, who calls “my Lord” “the sure mercies of David.” He also says, “I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.” You must know if salvation is by the mercy of God, it cannot be by the works of the creature under any law or rule that can be given to him; in fact, mercy is not an attendant or a belonging to any law or rule.
The word “regeneration ,” occurs but twice in the Bible. There is a great difference among Bible readers with regard to the meaning of the word. Jesus uses the word once to his disciples, and speaks about them following him in the regeneration. This use of the word by our Lord does not detract from the meaning which the apostle has placed on it in his one use of it. You see that believers have been saved by God’s mercy; that is the way. What is the method of cleansing sinners in this holy way of God! They are cleansed or purified “by the washing of regeneration.” This washing could not be accomplished except by a great sacrifice, the greatest sacrifice that was ever known on the earth, and the like shall never be again, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” I think Jesus had reference to this awful time in his experience on earth when he said to his disciples, “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” Another rendering of this passage is, How am I pained till it be accomplished. This baptism was in the future, it is evident, because this language was used long after he had been baptized in the river Jordan. It could not refer to water or christian baptism, but must refer to some overwhelming sorrow, for he could not be free from pain till it was accomplished. This baptism was of great importance, so important that the Savior prayed for it to pass from him, yet he was willing to be submissive to the Father’s will. This baptism into death was the washing of regeneration, the cleansing of his people from their sins. They are saved according to God’s mercy, and by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost. If we apply this passage to mean the experience of the saints, how can it be said of them that the Holy Ghost is renewed! This means that the Holy Ghost comes again, signifies that it has been withdrawn. This cannot be applicable to a sinner who has just received the first-fruits of the Spirit. When did they have access to the Holy Ghost and knew it not! Can it be said of them when they are born again that the Holy Ghost has come again to them! I think not, but it can appropriately be applied to Jesus in his resurrection; he was put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit. The washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost was shed abundantly on us through Jesus Christ our Savior. The words, “our Savior,” are very important in this connection, because salvation is the important work; there can be no salvation without the Savior. The call of God, which is a holy call, makes known to the poor soul that his salvation was accomplished by his Savior before he was born to the knowledge of it. This call is a holy calling, because it proceeds from God, who is holy. God’s people are not saved according to their works, neither are they called according to their works, but they are both saved and called according to God’s own purpose and grace, which purpose and grace were given them in Christ Jesus before the world began.
Dear brethren editors, I have sketched a portion of a discourse delivered about two weeks ago, in a neighborhood sixteen miles from here, where an Old School Baptist had never preached before. The language is not verbatim, but the general tenor of the subject is the same. In meditating on what I had said I was led to write some of the things spoken at that time. If you think it worthy a place in the Signs you can use it.
As ever, in hope of immortality,
J. F. BEEMAN.
HeLena, Okla., April 24, 1908.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 76, No. 13
July 1, 1908