I will here quote the Conditionalists one statement of Christ’s which without any comment whatever, will absolutely disprove the statement that “God’s people receive their reward here in this time world for all their deeds both good and bad.” “When thou makest a dinner or supper call not thy friends nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blest; for they cannot recompense thee; for thou SHALT BE RECOMPENCED AT THE RESURRECITON OF THE JUST.” (Luke 14:14). Let all who believe in Jesus say Amen to this.
I am afraid that our conditionalist brethren are identifying themselves with the rich man who had his good things IN this world; while Lazarus had his evil things here. This is in perfect harmony with what David said in Psalm 73:3-5, “For I was envious at the foolish when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death, but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.” They receive their good things in this world: but the righteous receive their evil things here. Paul clearly states this fact in 1 Cor. 15: 19, which says “If in this life only we have hope, we are of all men most miserable.” Why so? If we are rewarded in this life for our good deeds why should we be more miserable than the wicked who receive no such rewards? The echo is asking WHY? Paul evidently means that our hope in Christ for better things in the world to come, than anything received by us here, is all that keeps us from being more miserable than those who have no hope. The statement that I am answering, however, says that God’s people receive their reward here in this world for all their deeds, both good and bad.
If the above statement is true, and God’s people are rewarded here in this world for their sins, then it is reasonable to suppose that they are more miserable in this life than the wicked are, who will receive their punishment (reward) in the world to come. But is this the truth? Paul said in Titus 2:3, that Christ “gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity.” The word, “iniquity” covers every shade, grade and character of sin. If Christ took all the sins of His people on Himself as His sins and by His own suffering satisfied divine justice in their behalf, put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, then why must His people BE PUNISHED (rewarded) either IN THIS WORLD OR THE WORLD TO COME for the SAME sins for which Jesus suffered and died? ANY DOCTRINE THAT SAYS THAT JESUS DID NOT RENDER ABSOLUTE PERFECT AND COMPLETE SATISFACTION FOR ALL THE SINS OF ALL HIS PEOPLE IS NOT, CANNOT BE, THE TRUTH! “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us FROM ALL SIN.” God’s people were sanctified in God’s account WHEN Jesus, by the will of God offered Himself for them once for all time; and by that one offering, HE PERFECTED FOREVER THEM THAT HE SANCTIFIED BY THAT OFFERING. (See Hebrews 11:5-14). Any doctrine that presents God as having punished Jesus for the sins of His people AND THEN PUNISHES THEM AGAIN for the SAME sins is not, cannot be, the truth. God said Job was a perfect and upright man who feared God and eschewed evil and there was none like him in all the earth. Yet there is NO ACCOUNT in the Scriptures of any other man being turned over to Satan and tormented as he was. Was God rewarding him for his sins in time? Nay, verily, God said to Satan: “Hast thou considered my servant Job; that there is none like him in all the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God and eschewed evil? And still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me to destroy him without a cause.” If language means anything, there is no cause in Job’s conduct for which this awful suffering was sent upon him. God said to Satan: “Thou movedst me against him to destroy him WITHOUT CAUSE.” From the description that God had just given of Job, we are forced to the conclusion that He meant by the words “without cause” that the cause for which Job was suffering was NOT due to anything that Job had done, if that was true in Job’s case, then why may it not also be true with the rest of God’s people? But we are not left to guess at the reason why God’s people suffer in this world. Both the old and new testaments abound with testimony on this subject. We read in Daniel 11:35: “And some of them of understanding shall fall, TO TRY THEM, and TO PURGE, and to MAKE THEM WHITE.” Also Daniel 12:10: “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried.” Job said: “He knoweth the way I take: when HE HATH TRIED ME I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held His steps; His way have I kept and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of His lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food. But He is in one mind and who can turn Him? and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth. For He performs THE THING THAT IS APPOINTED FOR ME: and many such things are with Him.” Job’s sufferings were without cause so far as Job’s conduct was concerned; but it was appointed of God for the trial of his faith. Job said: “When HE HATH TRIED ME I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10-14). Peter said: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice inasmuch as ye are PARTAKERS OF CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS; that when His glory SHALL BE revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (I Peter 4:12-13). And again he said, “That the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it BE TRIED WITH FIRE, might be found unto honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1:7).
God’s people are NOT rewarded with punishment for their sins neither in this world or the world to come. But let me say with all boldness that at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the last day, they will be rewarded for all the suffering that THE LORD HAS LAID UPON THEM IN THIS LIFE, and also for every good work they have done: for it is wrought by God IN them. Paul said, “For our light affliction light compared to the final suffering of the wicked WORKETH FOR US a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” (II Cor. 4:17). And again he said, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; if so be that WE SUFFER WITH Him, that we may be glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this PRESENT TIME are not worthy to BE COMPARED with the glory that SHALL BE revealed in us.” (Rom. 8:16-18). And again he said, “For unto you IT IS GIVEN in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, BUT ALSO TO SUFFER for His sake.” (Phil. 1:29). Paul here tells us that a belief in Christ and our sufferings for His sake, are both GRACIOUS GIFTS from God. He also said to Timothy, “If we suffer we shall also reign with Him.” Time would fail me if I should attempt to cite all the Scriptures bearing on this truth. So I will turn to the FINAL REWARDS of both the RIGHTEOUS and the WICKED and let the Scriptures settle that question forever. Time and space will not allow me to do more than present what the Scriptures say on the subject; but before quoting any Scripture I will say that the Scripture abundantly teaches THAT ALL MEN AT THE COMING OF CHRIST IN THE WORLD TO COME, WILL BE REWARDED ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS. I mean that THEIR FINAL REWARDS will be according to their works. When the “dead, small and great, stand before God,” and the books are opened, and another book is opened, which is the book of Life: “and the dead ARE JUDGED out of the things that are written IN THE BOOKS according to their works.” (Revelation 8:33) A pertinent question asked by Paul. In the counsel of peace that was between them both, it was arranged between the Father and the Son that the Son should stand between the Father and His people and the Law on the other. So when they sinned their sins FELL ON JESUS, who was standing between them and the Law. And when God saw their sins, He saw them on Jesus, on whom they were imputed, and who stood between them and the Father. It is said in Numbers 23:21, that He has not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither has He seen perverseness in Israel. This certainly does not mean the literal house of Jacob, nor to nation Israel, for Jeremiah said, “Our INIQUITIES like the wind hath carried us away.” Jesus called the Jews a perverse generation; and Paul called them a crooked and perverse nation. But Jacob, the Lord’s portion and the lot of His inheritance (Deut. 32:9); and the Israel of our God. (Galatians 6:16). Not one sin has ever been recorded in God’s book against them; for Jesus said through David, “For the zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up: and the reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen on Me.” (Psalm 69:9).
This is the Israel that David said “Shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation.” And it is the Israel of whom Paul spoke when he said, “And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” ALL Israel shall be saved; but remember that they are not all Israel which are of Israel. Neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children: but in Isaac shall thy seed be called, that is, the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. God has never imputed (charged) any sin to this elect people. David said of them, “Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven and whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity.” And Paul said to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
It is evident that if God will not impute, or charge, sin to the account of His people: (and that is what is meant by the word “impute”) then when the dead, small and great stand before the Lord and all the books are opened, and the records of heaven are examined there will not be found aught against one of God’s elect. They will not be reckoned as having any SINFUL WORKS TO ACCOUNT FOR; hence they will not be rewarded as evil doers. They will have no evil works to follow them to the judgment as will be the case of the wicked, because their sins were all charged to Christ. But THEIR GOOD WORKS WILL FOLLOW THEM TO JUDGMENT and they will be judged and rewarded according to their works. We read in Revelation 14:13, “Blessed are the dead which DIE IN THE LORD from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, they shall rest FROM THEIR LABOURS; and THEIR WORKS DO FOLLOW THEM.” God Himself so arranged before the world began that He would never see any of our evil works in us, but He would (He did) see them in Jesus, “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye WERE healed.” Jesus received the REWARD OF OUR SINS when He received those stripes that healed us. Listen to what God said concerning Him, “I will also make My First Born higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for Him forevermore, and My covenant shall stand fast with Him. His seed also will make to endure for ever, and His throne as the days of heaven. If His children forsake My law, and walk not in My judgments; If they break My statutes, and keep not My commandments; Then will I visit their transgressions with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless My loving-kindness will I not utterly take from Him, nor suffer My faithfulness to fail.” (Psalm 89:17-33).
The forsaking of God’s law and not walking in His judgments, the breaking of His statutes and not keeping His commandments by Christ’s children (Behold, I and the children Thou has given Me) are all classed as transgressions and iniquity; and as such were satisfied for by the sufferings of Christ, “For He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for OUR INIQUITIES, the chastisement of OUR peace was upon Him, and with HIS stripes WE ARE healed. Surely! Surely! Surely! this people has no evil, in God’s account, to be rewarded for now (Isa. 53:5). But in that great day in the final judgment, when the Judge of the quick (living) and dead SHALL COME in His kingdom, sitting on His great white throne, with all nations gathered before Him, with the dead small and great, and the books containing every man’s account, shall be opened and every one shall be judged out of the things written in the books according to their works. (Matt. 25:31; Rev. 20:11-12). Then shall every man be rewarded according to his works as they are found recorded in these books.
As first proof, we will take the testimony of Jesus in John 5:28-29, “Marvel not at this, for the HOUR IS COMING in the which ALL THAT ARE IN THE GRAVES shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; They that HAVE DONE GOOD to the RESURRECTION OF LIFE; and they that HAVE DONE EVIL to the RESURRECTION OF DAMNATION.” Can language state anything plainer? (What is required of the Lord more for us to believe?) Each are to receive according to his works, whether they be good or evil works. To deny this is to give the lie to the blessed Son of God.
In Romans 2, Paul said of a certain class that after “their hardness and impenitent heart they treasured up to themselves wrath against THE DAY OF WRATH and righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to them by patient continuance in WELL DOING seek for glory and honour and immortality ETERNAL LIFE; but to them that are contentious and DO NOT OBEY the truth, but OBEY UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that DOES EVIL, to the Jew first and the Gentile; but glory honour and peace to every man that WORKS GOOD, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile, for there is no respect of persons with God.” Paul here positively asserts that Eternal Life will be rendered to those who receive it, “according to their works.” David said in Psalms 62:12, “Also unto Thee O Lord, belongeth mercy: for Thou renderest to every man according to HIS WORK.” Note this is to be when He comes in the glory of His Father and His Father and His Holy angels with Him in the day yet to come. In Matthew 25:31-46, He tells us just how He will proceed, and just what the final reward of each shall be. He said, “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all His holy angels WITH HIM, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory; and before Him shall be gathered all nations; and He shall separate them one from another as a shepherd divideth His sheep from the goats; and He shall set the sheep on His right hand but the goats on the left. Then shall He say unto them on His right hand, Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for (note this word “for”; many of our brethren seem to be afraid to use it, but Jesus used it; then why should we not?) I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was a thirst and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison and ye came to me.” The righteous were surprised and asked Him when they had done any of these things to Him, and He answered, in as much as they had done it to one of the least little ones they had done it to Him. In Matthew 16, He calls this rewarding “them according to their works:” and tells them to come and inherit the kingdom. And to those on His left He said, “Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels for (because) they had not done these things to His little ones. If we deny that they inherit the kingdom as a reward for their righteous deeds, then we will be forced to deny that the wicked are sent away into everlasting fire as a reward for (because of) their evil deeds; for the language used in expressing the reason for each is exactly the same.
Some may object to this because Paul said we are saved and called not according to works. He who offers this objection has failed to rightly divide the word of Truth. He has failed to divide between the work of God in Christ Jesus in REDEEMING and saving us from our sins, then ADOPTING us, then CREATING us in Christ as new creatures, then CALLING us by His grace, then dealing with us from henceforth as His children. The paying off of a poor man’s debt by a rich man, does not make that poor man the son and heir of that rich man; nor does it entitle him to any part of that rich man’s wealth! Neither did redemption from our sins (debts) make us either children or heirs of God, nor entitle us to any of the riches of His glory. But if WE ARE HIS ELECT, it DID PREPARE US to be adopted into the heavenly family, which could not be done while the law held us as sinners! God has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, and had predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself. When the fullness of time had come He sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, that we MIGHT RECEIVE THE ADOPTION of sons. And having now redeemed and adopted us He creates us anew in Christ Jesus UNTO GOOD WORKS, and called us by His grace. None of this was according to our works. But from now on every blessing that we receive will be according to our works.
The next question is “How do our good works come? Jesus is said to be the Author of eternal salvation to all them THAT OBEY HIM; but where do we find it said that He is the “Author of Conditional time salvation” to any one? Eternal salvation will be the reward of all those that obey Him; will it be conditional? no, a thousand times no! Paul said, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh shall OF THE FLESH REAP corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall OF THE SPIRIT REAP life everlasting.” Does this corruption which comes to a man who sows to the flesh come as a reward for his sowing to the flesh? If so, does not this life everlasting which comes to the man who sows to the Spirit, come as a reward for his sowing to the Spirit? This text like all the others cited, presents THE BLESSINGS OF EVERLASTING LIFE as coming according to our works. Again the question forces itself upon us: “Where do our good works come from?” We will let the Scriptures answer this just as they have answered each point that has been so far discussed.
As Paul was given as a pattern to them who should after him believe on Christ to life everlasting, I will take him as a pattern in settling this question. Paul said in I Cor. 15:10, “By the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet NOT I, BUT THE GRACE OF GOD which was given me.” That grace of God that was with him was Christ in him. Christ said: “Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch CANNOT bear fruit OF ITSELF except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide IN ME. He that abideth in Me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do NOTHING.” But remember that Jesus said the man that abides (dwells) in Him and He in him, the same brings forth much fruit. Now what does this fruit result in? Paul answers in Romans 6:22: “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your FRUIT unto holiness, and the end EVERLASTING LIFE.” Their fruit, of course, means their good works since they have been made free from sin and become servants of God. If these are optional (as the Conditionalists and Freewillers suppose) with man, he can do or not do, then it must be true that our final destiny is conditional as well. But that position is absolutely untrue. Listen to Paul again, “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath NOT WROUGHT by me, to make the Gentiles obedient by word and deed.” In making the Gentiles obedient it WAS CHRIST that wrought by Paul, and not Paul that wrought by Christ. Let us hear him again: “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, MAKE YOU PERFECT IN EVERY GOOD WORK TO DO HIS WILL, WORKING IN YOU that which is well pleasing in His sight, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Now let us examine that favorite text of all Arminians and see if there is anything in it to fit their doctrine. Let us quote the full sentence and then examine it thoroughly. It reads: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, as ye have ALWAYS OBEYED, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for IT IS GOD THAT WORKETH IN YOU BOTH TO WILL AND DO OF HIS GOOD PLEASURE.” We will first examine the words “your” and “own.” “Your” shows possession, belonging or pertaining to you. That which is your own is that which you have a legal right, or rightful title, to, whether you have it in your possession or not. This being true, it follows that Paul was not admonishing those brethren to work in order to make this salvation theirs; but to work out what they already had a rightful title to. No Arminian, or Conditional theory, can stand up under the real and only meaning of the words “your own salvation” in the above text. It means a salvation that is now by right of ownership. But let us, for the sake of argument, grant that it does not mean that. Let us take a stand with the Conditional Time Salvationist that it means a salvation in time to be obtained by our own voluntary obedience to God’s laws as “conditional thereto”. If this is true then why did Paul command them to work it out, seeing he commends them as having “always obeyed?” As children of God they have already been saved from their sins, and called with a holy calling. That was done, NOT according to their works, for they have had no good works at that time. And if as children of God, they have always obeyed, please tell me, Mr. Conditional Salvationist, what do they need salvation from? Again, this text says SALVATION (singular) and not SALVATIONS (plural). If it means that if we disobey, we need to be saved from the sin of that disobedience, and we must work out our salvation from it; then we sin again and we must work out our salvation from that sin, and so on down through life, every time we sin we must work out our salvation from that particular sin; we would certainly have MANY salvations not just two before we got through!
Again, suppose a child of God should suddenly drop dead or be instantly killed, while in the commission of a very grave sin, what would become of him? He would not have time to even think about working out his salvation from it. He was saved from all the sins that he committed as “an alien sinner,” by the blood of Christ. But he must work out his salvation himself, from all the sins he commits after he is born again. If that is so, then he must be lost, because Jesus did not save him from that last grievous sin, and he died without working out any kind of salvation for himself for it. This text does not stop there; it goes on to say, “FOR IT IS GOD THAT WORKETH IN YOU BOTH TO WILL AND DO OF HIS GOOD PLEASURE.”
This brings us to the subject of good works, and also THE SOURCE, from which they proceed. The will to do this work which Paul commanded, and the doing of them were both the work of the Lord. Jesus asserted twice in the fifth chapter of John that He could, of Himself, DO NOTHING. In the fourteenth chapter He said, “But My Father IN ME, He doeth the work.” If Jesus could not do anything of Himself, then it is the height of presumption on our part to think that we can. If it was His Father in Him that did the work, and it is God “that worketh IN US both to will and do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13, and if He “makes us perfect in EVERY GOOD WORK to do His will,” and “works in us that which his well pleasing in His sight through our Lord Jesus Christ”: then OUR WORKS (if we do any) are by the same power, and from precisely the SAME SOURCE as were the works of the Lord Jesus. No man who believes the Scriptures will deny this. Isaiah said, “Lord Thou will ordain peace for us; for THOU HAST WROUGHT ALL OUR WORKS IN US.” Peace will be the ordained lot of those in whom God has wrought ALL their works. And let me remark here, that there ARE NO GOOD WORKS, from a Scriptural standpoint, done by man; only such as God works IN them. Even our belief in Him is the work of God; and is as great a miracle as the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” (John 6:29) Paul said in Ephesians 1:18-20, “Thee eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places.” This shows that the SAME mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead WORKS IN HIS PEOPLE to make believers of them. For that reason Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He hath sent.” Peter writes, “Who BY HIM do BELIEVE in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” (I Peter 1:21). In his second epistle, he tells them that they “obtained their faith” through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. And in the third verse, “According as His divine power hath GIVEN US ALL THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO LIFE and godliness.” The word “pertain,” as it is used here, means to have relation to. This being true, it follows that our good works (which pertains to life and godliness), if we have any, are THE GIFT of God. Not only are they the gift of God, but He ORDAINED that we “should walk in them,” and He created us in Christ to do them (Eph. 2:10). And He “works in us to will and to do” them, (Phil. 2:13) working IN US that which is well pleasing in His sight through our Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 13:20-21). This covers ALL good works, and proves beyond the shadow of a doubt, that there are no good works except such as are wrought of God. All that Jesus did was the “work of God IN Him,” for He said, “Believest thou that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, HE DOETH THE WORKS.” Jesus did not speak except as the Father gave Him to speak. The ability was not in the flesh; He was kept by the power of God.
I have known for a long time that our limited and conditional-time-salvation friends claim that they can do more than God knew Jesus could do, and what Jesus Himself asserted He could not do of Himself. God promised His hand and KEEP Him, and give for a Covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles. Was it needful that God should hold His hand and keep Him? If so, why? This question is already answered in Psalm 91:11-12: “For He shall give His angels charge over Thee, to KEEP Thee in ALL Thy ways. They shall bear Thee up in their hands, lest Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.” To say the least of it, the language of these two Scriptures indicate that God knew Jesus in the flesh would fall if He did not uphold Him. And yet the Conditionalists think Adam was able to stand! without such aid, and that they also are able to stay in the path of obedience without God keeping them in all their ways as He kept Jesus; that they can do good works without God working in them both the will and do, as Paul said He did for the Philippians. It would take a man that is good in himself to do it; and Jesus positively denied being that kind of a man: “Why callest Thou Me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” All the goodness that was in Him was God in Him; and all the good works He did He attributed to God working in Him. He said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work; Very, verily, I say unto you the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” In other words, He only works when the Father works in Him (I and My Father are one), hence all that He does is the work of God in and through Him. If He could not do any good works except when and what the Father worked in Him, it must be the sin of presumption for any man to claim he can do good works without God working in him.
The young man that came to Jesus wanted to know what good thing he could do that he might have eternal life. After Christ assured him there were no good men, He said, “But if thou will enter into life, keep the commandments.” The life that the young man was inquiring how to obtain was eternal life; the life that Jesus told him he must keep the commandments to enter into was, of course, the life the young man had inquired about. It was not the life he then possessed, but one he would enter if he kept the commandments. No man whom God is not IN can keep the commandments. But everyone of God’s children can and do keep them when He works in them to do them.
“He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law … love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Rom. 13:8-10) “All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Gal. 5:14) “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” There can be no obedience to God’s laws except love be the moving cause of that obedience. If God is love, and He that dwells in love dwells in God, then God who is love, and who is dwelling in him, is the direct and immediate CAUSE OF ALL THE GOOD WORK done by that man. It is God working in him both the will and do of His good pleasure. There are two laws mentioned in Romans 3:27; one is the law of works and the other the law of faith. The natural, carnal, fleshly man, is under the law of works, where the child of God, or spiritual man, is under the law of faith. The law of works, which the natural man is under, is called the law of sin and death. But the law of faith, which the children of God are under, is called the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus; and frees its subjects from the law of sin and death. The law of works appeals to its subjects by promises of great blessings to those who obey it, and threatens dire punishment to those that disobey it. (See the entire chapter of Deut. 18 for the former of these). See how great the promises, and how terribly awful are its threats, and then remember that he who would live by the law is a debtor to the whole law (Gal. 5:33). And remember also, that whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in ONE POINT is guilty of all (James 2:10). This law was ordained to life if they keep it; for the Lord said by Moses. “Ye shall therefore keep My statutes, and My judgments; which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord.” (See Lev. 18:5; Rom. 10:5)
But it was also ordained to death, for no man could keep it, and it proved to be to death. Paul said, “And the commandment which was ordained to life, I found to be to death.” The commandment was to keep the whole law. This law persuades and deters those that are under it, by promises and threats; because those that are under it are NOT SUBJECT to the law of faith, which works by love, that the children of God are under. The man who is persuaded to do right from either the hope of reward, or the fear of punishment is not moved to do so by faith which works by love, and which cast out fear. Hence his act in so doing is a sin, for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. (Rom. 14:23) The law of faith does not seek to control its subjects by promises of rewards and threats of punishment; but it controls them by love through the Spirit. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love.” (Gal. 3:6) There cannot be such a thing as spiritual service to God that is not produced by faith and love. No act that is a product of fear of punishment, or hope of reward can be reckoned as “obedience.” No man will ever receive a spiritual blessing as a reward for carnal work. The man who works for such a reason is moved by a carnal, selfish, sinful motive, and therefore is not entitled to, nor will he receive a spiritual blessing for it. The man who seeks to obey the commandments with a hope that he will obtain a reward, or escape punishment thereby will be disappointed for the “hope of the hypocrite shall perish.” (Job 8:13) Such men love not God, but they love themselves, and their work is strictly intended to benefit themselves. Charity, which means love, “seeks not its own.” (I Cor. 13:5) And we are commanded to not seek our own, but every man another’s wealth. (I Cor. 10:24) Faith and love make those who possess them forsake their own interests, and labor for the interest of those they love. Such labor is called in the Scriptures, “the labor of love,” because it is prompted by love, and not by the hope of reward or fear of punishment. Those who labor thus are not working for a reward, and yet they shall be rewarded according to their works.
We read in Hebrews 6:10: “For God is not unrighteous to forget your WORK AND LABOR OF LOVE, which you have showed toward His name in you have ministered to the saints and do minister.” No, He will not forget it, but will reward it in that great day when He shall sit them on His right hand, and shall say to them, “Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” And He will tell them that in as much as they have done it to the least of His brethren they have done it to Him. (Matt. 25:31-40) He will reward them according to their works “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father, with His angels, and then He shall reward every man ACCORDING TO HIS WORKS.” Again, the very potent question forces itself into our minds: From whence comes ALL GOOD WORKS? For if men are to be rewarded according to their works, as the Scriptures abundantly teach, then it necessarily follows that we must first determine the SOURCE from which good works come, and the POWER that moves men to perform them, and WHAT is considered by God to be those “good works” in order to arrive at a correct conclusion as to whether the rewards are to be rendered according to these “good” works, or are “conditional.”
In Romans 2:5-11, Paul assures us that God in His righteous judgment will “render to every man according to his deeds.” Is the reward, then, according to his “deeds,” or according to some “conditions” he performed? He assures us that eternal life will be rendered to them who, “by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, honour, and immortality.” Mark you, this eternal life is to be “rendered to” the man “according TO HIS DEEDS,” who, by “patient CONTINUANCE IN WELL DOING, SEEKS for glory and honour and immortality”. I will here say very boldly, that there IS NO ESCAPE from the conclusion that eternal life is conditional on our part, IF ALL GOOD WORKS ARE NOT attributable to the Sovereign, FREE, INDEPENDENT, and UNCONDITIONAL GRACE OF ALMIGHTY GOD. Paul attributed ALL he did in the service of God to the “grace of God.” He said, “I laboured more abundantly than they all; YET NOT I, but the GRACE OF GOD THAT WAS WITH ME” According to Paul, grace labors. All we do that is acceptable to God is the work of grace. Faith and love are both graces of the Spirit of God. (Gal. 5:22) They are never found in any man whom Christ is not in; but they are found in all in whom Christ dwells. Paul said, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves, know ye not your own selves, how that Christ dwelleth in you, except ye be reprobates?” (II Cor. 13:5). The man who must be moved to obey the law by the hope of reward, or fear of punishment, is naught but a reprobate, according to the meaning of the word reprobate. He is not of standard purity, or fineness. This is proved by the fact he must be hired, or forced, to his duty. The power that moves God’s people to obedience is within them, and the power that moves the reprobate is outside of him. God said to His people by the mouth of the prophet: “A new heart also will I GIVE you, and a new spirit will I PUT WITHIN you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit WITHIN you, and CAUSE YOU to walk in My statutes, and ye SHALL KEEP MY JUDGMENTS and DO THEM.” Does this sound like a Conditionalist? Does this sound like they can do these things or not do them at their own option? God said He would put His Spirit in them and CAUSE them to do them. God’s Spirit in them is the cause, and their walking in His statutes and keeping His judgments is the EFFECT of that cause. All good works are the FRUIT of this Spirit of God. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, meekness, temperance, etc. That is, “good works.” If these are all fruits of the Spirit of God, is that Spirit dependent on the volition of man, as to when, where, and in whom it shall bear its fruits? I have not yet met a Conditionalist of any shade or character, that did not preach a dependent god who is governed by man; a god whose entire course of conduct in dealing with men is shaped and determined by what man does. For if God deals with men according to their conduct which the Scriptures teach and man is “free to shape his own conduct” as the Conditionalists all say he is: then it follows as a self-evident fact, that man, in determining his own course, determines the course of God in dealing with him.
They tell us that if a man obeys God, He will bless him; and if he disobeys God, He will punish him. They further tell us that it is “left up to man to determine which it shall be.” But are we not left to guess whether or not man is left to direct his own steps? Jeremiah has settled that matter for us. He said, “O Lord, I KNOW that the way of man is NOT IN HIMSELF: it is NOT IN MAN that walketh TO DIRECT HIS STEPS.” (Jeremiah 10:23).
Dear Reader, where do you stand in this matter? Do you stand with Jeremiah who says it is not in man to direct his steps, or do you stand with the Conditionalists who say that man is free to choose his own way, and to direct his steps accordingly? Which is your own inward experience? One of these statements is true; one is false. Which one is true to your experience? Of course I am not expecting the carnally minded to receive this, for they are only natural and cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God; for these things are foolishness unto them, neither can they know them, because such things are spiritually discerned. They are still in bondage under the old covenant of works which Hagar the bond maid represented (Galatians 4:21-31). All who have not been made free from the law of sin and death by the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus are still under it, and “through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Paul tells the children of the free woman (in the new covenant) to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made them free, and be not entangled again (they apparently had been under it once) with the yoke of bondage. It is very evident that those who hold out the promises of rewards, and fear of punishment, to the children of God, as incentives to obedience, are seeking to entangle them with the YOKE OF BONDAGE from which Christ has made them free. No man can read Paul’s allegorical narrative of the covenants as illustrated by Hagar and Sarai, in Gal. 4:21-31 and then read the first verse of the next chapter and fail to see that he calls that old covenant of promises of blessings and threats of punishment as incentives to obedience, “the yoke of bondage” from which Christ had set those saints free. That law-covenant was NOT made for “a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient.” Its subjects are only natural carnally minded men who have no love for God, nor for righteousness, but are only moved to action by CARNAL inducements and selfish motives.
This very same question that I am now discussing came up in the Church at Jerusalem and caused no small dissension and disputations. A council was called, and the apostles and elders were called to pass on the matter. When they had met, certain of the Pharisees that believed rose up and said that it was needful to command them (the believing Gentiles) to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses. But Peter rose and answered them saying: “Men and brethren, ye know that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the Gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither OUR FATHERS, NOR WE WERE ABLE TO BEAR. But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” (Acts 15:8-11). Peter called that old law-covenant, under which men were actuated by the hope of reward and the fear of punishment “a yoke which neither their fathers nor they were able to bear.” If serving for reward, and from the fear of punishment (legalism) constituted a yoke that neither the apostles nor the elders of that day were able to bear, do you suppose, dear reader, that it has become any lighter by this time? All conditionalists are serving under the law. They are trying (but not very hard) to obtain blessings and escape punishment by their own partial, or causal, obedience. They are strictly advocating the principles of the old covenant, and like Israel, being “ignorant of God’s righteousness, are going about to establish their own righteousness, and have not SUBMITTED themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
There are two kinds of “righteousness” mentioned in the Scriptures. Paul said of Abraham that he should be the heir of the world, was not given to Abraham nor to his seed through the law, but through the “righteousness of faith.” Paul said again, “But what things are gain to me, those I count loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffer the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I MAY WIN CHRIST, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, WHICH IS OF THE LAW, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” (Phil. 3:8) This righteousness which is by the law is from selfish motives. But the righteousness which is by faith is an unselfish righteousness, because its subjects are moved by unselfish motives. Faith works by love, which is the FULFILLING of the law. The law has never been fulfilled, in spirit, except by faith through love. Paul said, “He that loves another hath fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8.) Again he said, “For ALL the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Oh! what a wonderful text! How rich and full it is! Yet its sweetness can never be attained or tasted by man on a conditional basis. Can a man love or not love at his own option? How wonderful is the free grace of love! Its possessor cannot control it, but is controlled BY IT. Faith works by love and sweetly impels its subjects to obey.
We read in the Song of Solomon that love is as strong as death; also that many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it. If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would be utterly contemned. If love, therefore, is “as strong as death” then who can hinder it from taking its course? Who can prevent it from accomplishing its purpose? Is it left to the free will, or volition of man to yield, or not to yield, to death? Is it conditional with man as to whether he die or not? Can he prevent the grim monster from accomplishing its purpose? If not, then all shades, grades and kinds of conditional salvation are false: for they all teach that man can successfully resist love, and prevent it from accomplishing its purpose.
Jesus said, “If a man love Me, he WILL KEEP My words.” Why is it that man, who loves Jesus, will keep His words? Is not his love for Jesus the cause? Is not every cause adequate to its effect? No man will ever profit spiritually by an act that is not prompted by love. Paul said, “Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and have not charity, it profiteth nothing.” He did NOT say that it would not profit the poor to whom he gave all his goods, but it would not profit himself. Love, which moves a man to deny himself and to sacrifice his own interest for the interest of others, will, though he neither desires nor expects it, finally result in great profit to himself. He is blessed IN the doing of it. But if he is doing it with a view to profit by it he will certainly be disappointed. There is no self-denial in working for profit: hence, the man who is working for blessings, for a reward, is not, and cannot be, a disciple of Christ for Christ said clearly, “If any man come after Me, let him DENY HIMSELF, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whosoever shall save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25).
The statement I am answering says, “I agree with your statement that God’s people receive their reward here in this world for all their deeds both good and bad.” This statement is as FAR FROM THE TRUTH AS IT IS POSSIBLE for any statement to be. It cannot possibly be reconciled to the above statement from Jesus. Yet it is a fair SAMPLE of the Conditionalist-Time-Salvation theory. It is a clear and comprehensive enunciation of the principles of the Old Covenant, which Hagar represented which Paul called “a yoke of bondage” from which Christ has made His people free.
The people under that old covenant were TO BE REWARDED IN THIS WORLD for all their deeds both good and bad. There was not a hint in it that there would be ANY rewards for those under it after this life. To be a follower of Christ one must deny himself and take up his cross. Paul said he suffered the loss of all things for Christ (Phil. 3:8). When the Lord sent Ananias to Saul He told him He would show him how great things he MUST suffer for His name’s sake (Acts 9:16). Suffering in this life is the promised lot of all who will live godly in Christ Jesus (II Tim. 3:12). Conditionalists tell us that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus will be blessed with the reward of peace and happiness in this world - totally contrary to the plain testimony of Scripture. They have done away with Christ Jesus entirely, so-to-speak, as their daily Saviour. They only admit Him as their “eternal” Saviour: but they deny that He saves His people daily here in time. They tell us that the children of God “must save themselves” here in time; and to prove it they quote and then misapply the language of Peter on the day of Pentecost: “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” But they spoil their argument on that text by quoting to us Paul’s words to Timothy: “Take heed to thyself and to the doctrine, continue in them: for in doing this THOU shalt both save thyself, AND THEM THAT HEAR THEE.”
In the first text above they would have us believe each child of God must save himself with this “time-salvation” and in next they would have us believe no one has anything to do in saving them except the preacher! In it Paul asserted Timothy would do the saving BOTH of himself AND them that heard him. The first one gives the preacher no job in this time-salvation but to save himself; the second one gives no one anything to do in saving them but the preacher! If both mean the same salvation, or deliverance, then these two Scriptures contradict each other. Salvation means “deliverance”: hence God’s children are saved, delivered, many times. David said, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD DELIVERETH HIM OUT OF THEM ALL.” (Psa. 34:19) No conditionalism here! When the children of Israel were delivered out of Egypt, God ordered them to slay a lamb, each family apart. This lamb was to be without blemish because it was to be a type of our Saviour Jesus Christ. God preceded their deliverance from Egyptian bondage by the slaying of this lamb. He made the day on which it was slain the beginning of the year with Israel. He required Israel to commemorate this year, each year, with a seven days feast, which should be to them an ordinance forever, throughout their generations. This was kept up by Israel at that same time each year until Christ came, and He was crucified during this Passover as the anti-type of that lamb. Not only did that lamb represent Christ; but that GREAT DELIVERANCE of Israel’s from Egyptian bondage represented our redemption by Christ and our deliverance from under the law and the bondage of sin.
Paul in speaking of this great redemption by Christ said: “Wherefore, when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body has Thou prepared Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure: then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the Book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God.” Then Paul adds, “By the which WILL WE ARE SANCTIFIED, by the offering of the body of JESUS CHRIST ONCE FOR ALL.” Meaning once for all time. And a little later he says, “By one offering He HATH PERFECTED FOREVER them that are sanctified.”
All the elect of God, whether born or unborn, WERE SAVED from EVERY SIN that ever had or ever would be committed, and perfected forever, WHEN Christ offered Himself without spot to God for them (Heb. 10:1-8). Will some Conditionalist tell us whether or not Jesus, by this one offering put away all the sins of all His people? If so, then answer me one more question: Does God still hold them responsible, and reward them accordingly in this time world for sins for which Christ suffered the sacrifice of Himself? If not, please tell me why you Conditionalists teach that they are rewarded in this world for their deeds.
But let us pursue the matter a little further. After Israel had offered this spotless lamb and had been delivered, which was a figure of our ETERNAL SALVATION: which figure they were required to continue annually till Christ came; they were to select two lambs, just like the first one, to offer as a daily sacrifice. One to be offered in the morning, and the other in the evening. If the first lamb represented Jesus as our Saviour for eternity, then these two must surely represent Him as our Saviour for all time. One represented Him as our Saviour for the day, and the other for the night. This must be repeated every morning and every evening: thus signifying that Christ is our Saviour every day and every night.
The objector may ask why we need a Saviour every day and night if Jesus put away all of our sins and perfected us forever when He made one offering for us? To which I would answer: Because Jesus put away our sins long BEFORE we were born into the world, and long before we had committed them. Jesus did not die to keep us from sinning, but He died to save us from the consequence of the sins that we do commit. As we are continually committing these sins day and night, Satan the accuser accuses us before God day and night. (Rev. 12:10). Hence when we are accused before God, we need an Advocate with Him; and John tells us if we sin we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous (I John 2:1). Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God; and Paul says, “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25). These Scriptures present to our minds a great court sitting in Judgment day and night, where God sits as Judge, with Christ sitting at His right hand as the Advocate of His people; and Satan as the accuser of that same people, accusing them before God day and night. These are God’s elect for whom Christ died, and whom God has freely justified by the blood of Christ. But Satan is not yet ready to acknowledge his defeat; but as in the case of Job, who was a figure of this people, he is trying day and night to get a charge recorded against them in the court of heaven. But as God, who sits as Judge in that court, has justified them freely, and as Christ who died for them is there as their Advocate and Intercessor, Satan has never yet been able to “lay a charge” in that court yet, although he tries continually, day and night. For “Who can lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:33cf). Remember, it is the “brethren” that Satan accuseth before God day and night, but has never been able to get a charge laid against them in God’s court. But the Conditionalists tell us that he succeeds every time one of the “brethren” does any bad thing, and gets him condemned, in spite of the intercessions of Christ in his behalf, and he is “punished for it in this time-world.” Yes, says the statement I am answering: “They receive their reward here in this world for all their deeds, both good and bad.”
The Conditionalists have (in their theory) taken away the daily sacrifice, which is Christ, and have set up their own righteousness, as the basis of their daily salvation from their sins which they are daily committing. And thus they have taken away the daily sacrifice, and have set up in its place the “abomination that maketh desolate.” They leave Christ out of their daily salvation and teach, saying, We save ourselves from our own sins in time by our own suffering; and We obtain our own blessings in time by our own good works, which we volunteer to perform. Isaiah said, “ALL OUR RIGHTEOUSENESSES are but FILTHY RAGS.” They hold up their filthy rags before God as an offering to obtain blessings, and thus they set up this abomination in the holy place where Christ alone should stand. (see Dan.11:31 and Mark 13:14).
I am truly glad that the Scriptures present Jesus as our daily sacrifice, as our daily Saviour. I am truly glad to feel, and to hope that when I sin, (which I do every day and every hour), that these sins were atoned for by the sacrifice of Christ; and that He, as my Advocate and Intercessor sits continually, day and night, at the right hand of God, ready every time I sin to meet the arch-enemy’s accusation with the proof that He Himself made satisfaction for that sin on the cross. I can boast of a greater Saviour than any Conditionalist can boast of. I can boast of a Saviour that saved me from all of my sins, while they only claim a savior that saves them from all the sins that they committed before they were born again, but from then on they are rewarded here in this time world, they say, for all their bad deeds. Their sins that they commit after they are born again must be expiated by their own suffering. They forget, if they ever knew, that no amount of suffering that one can undergo for his own sins can ever remove his guilt. He may suffer the full penalty that has been assessed against him for his sin and be set at liberty, but he is still guilty. Jesus was slain for the sins of His people and has washed all of them from their sins in His own blood. (Rev. 1:5). Those who must suffer for their own sins under God’s law, certainly have never had their guilt removed by the blood of Christ, or they surely would know better than that by experience. As Jesus said to Simon, Those who have been forgiven most love most. (Luke 7:41-43). This being true, then those who feel that God, for Christ’s sake has forgiven all their sins must love Him better than the man who feels that he is punished here in this time world for part of his sins. We love Him because He first loved us. Love for Him is a SUFFICIENT MOTIVE to move those who love Him to serve Him without promise of pay, reward, blessings, or threat of punishment. Love is of God, and is the fulfilling of the law. (John 4:7 and Romans 13:10). But the question arises, How are we to know that we possess this love which is of God? This question is answered in I John 5:3. John says, “For this is the love of God, that WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS: they are NOT GRIEVOUS.” If His commandments are grievous to us, so much so that it takes the hope of a reward or the fear of punishment to move us to do them, then we may rest assured that the love of God is not in us.
In the third chapter of John, verses sixteen and seventeen, John gives us another test as to whether or not we have this love of God in us. He says, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” “But whoso hath this world’s goods and seeth his brother have need, and shuteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” John makes it very plain that those who HAVE the love of God IN THEM need no other motive or incentive to move them to do that which is right. Love being as strong as death, will move those who possess it to lay down their lives, if necessary, for those whom they love. It was the love of God that moved Him to send His Son into the world to die for poor ungodly sinners. It was love that moved our blessed Saviour to lay down His life for us when we were His enemies. And this love, which is of God, is the MOVING CAUSE of EVERY TRULY RIGHTEOUS ACT. In fact, it is God “working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13). But love which is in our hearts is a fruit of the Spirit and is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. It never works in us alone, but is always accompanied by faith. Without this faith, Paul says, no man can please God. I have already shown that we receive this faith, not through our own righteousness, but through the imputed righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
In fulfillment of that covenant (or counsel of peace) by and through which we were made heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, all things that pertain to life and godliness were made ours. To accomplish this, God freely gave His Son, and notwithstanding the fact that His Son, when the time came for the great price to be paid, prayed vehemently for the cup of suffering to pass from Him, yet God did not spare Him, but delivered Him up for us all (the elect). This having been done, Paul asked, “How shall He not with Him also FREELY GIVE US ALL THINGS?” This being true, I will boldly assert that EVERY RIGHTEOUS ACT AND RIGHTEOUS THOUGHT of the children of God ARE WROUGHT IN THEM AS FREELY BY THE SOVEREIGN GRACE OF GOD as was their redemption, adoption, and their quickening! All shades and grades of Arminian Conditionalism to the contrary notwithstanding.
Peter said to them who had received their faith through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power hath given unto us ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” God’s children have not received the spirit of the world, but the spirit that is of God; that they may know the things that are FREELY (not: conditionally) GIVEN them of God. And Paul makes that gift embrace all things, whether in time or eternity, that pertains to life and to godliness. That takes it all in as a matter of free grace: experience, faith, hope, life, blessings, chastenings, trials, joys, repentance, good works, etc.
Faith stands out very prominent among the “all things that pertain to life and godliness which God has FREELY GIVEN to His people.” Anything that is of faith is by grace. Paul said, “Therefore, it is of faith, THAT IT MIGHT BE BY GRACE, to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed.” No conditionalism here! This shows very positively that a thing must be of faith in order for it to be by grace. The statement that “It is of faith that it might be by grace” signifies that it would not be by grace unless it was of faith. This being true, it follows that every faithful act and thought is BY GRACE also, because they are “of faith.” And Paul said, “Whatsoever is NOT of faith is sin.” So where does that leave those so-called conditional blessings? (see Romans 14:23). Can a thing be “of faith” and yet be by works even works of obedience of the creature? Paul says not. He said, “even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace; and IF BY GRACE, THEN IT IS NO MORE OF WORKS: otherwise grace is no more grace.” Keep in mind that all works that are of faith are “by grace.” They are of faith that they might be by grace and not of the works of the creature. (Rom. 4:1-16). The works that are the RESULT of faith are said to be WROUGHT OF GOD, because it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Agreeing that God is merely working out what is already within you only gives strength to this argument; it confirms that all of salvation even in time is of grace. Let us here mention a few things that are said to be of faith and are therefore BY GRACE. If it is by grace, then it cannot be conditionally procured.
I will start with Ephesians 2:8-9. “For IT (that faith) is THE GIFT of God: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man (such as the Conditionalists) should boast.” I use this text here because the one I have just been discussing says, it is of faith that it might be by grace; and this one says, “By grace are ye saved through faith.” These texts both show that which is of faith is by grace. The modern Conditionalist sets up “two salvations, one by grace in the hereafter, and the other by works in time.” If this salvation in time is not BY GRACE, then it is NOT OF FAITH, and “whatsoever is not of faith IS SIN.” Moreover the man who works for a reward and obtains it does not receive it as a gracious gift; but as the payment of a debt. For a number of years I was a carpenter. When I agreed to build a house for a man the man that employed me was the party of the first part, and I was the one who had contracted with him to build the house for him was the party of the second part. He furnished me with a plan and specifications. I examined them and agreed to build his house according to the plan and specifications for a specified sum. When I had completed the house, if I had complied with my part of the contract as the party of the second part he, as the party of the first part was due me, as a reward for my labor, the amount that was specified in the contract. He was in debt to me for that amount. When he paid me, it was a reward for my labor, and NOT a gracious gift. The reward was not reckoned by us as being of grace, but of debt. He only paid me what he owed me. All who work under a conditional contract must get their reward (if they get any) as a matter of debt and not of grace. They must (if their doctrine is true) bring GOD UNDER OBLIGATION TO THEM BY THEIR OBEDIENCE. Do I misrepresent them? I think not. Their works are sinful self-righteous works because they are prompted by a selfish motive gain to self. They were not of faith; if so, they were by grace, and that which is by grace through faith is UNCONDITIONAL! They must be that way that the promise may be sure.
The Scriptures, old and new, abundantly teach that God does, and will reward every man according to his works. There is no escape from this conclusion. Then it follows as an irresistible conclusion that the works, according to which the reward is rendered, MUST BE OF FAITH AND BY GRACE. Otherwise the reward must be reckoned of debt and not of grace. God gave Abraham faith and then reckoned that faith, and all the works Abraham was moved to do by it for righteousness! All such works are of faith, and the reason is given in the Scriptures: that they may be by grace, that the promise to them that do such works may be sure; and the reward be reckoned of grace and not of debt. We live by faith (Rom 1:17). We are justified by faith (Rom 3:28). We stand by faith (Rom. 11:20; II Cor. 1:24). We walk by faith (II Cor. 5:7). We receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Gal. 3:14). We are the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:26). This faith works by love and not by the hope of reward not the fear of punishment (Gal. 5:6). Christ dwells in our hearts by faith (Eph. 3:17). We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). All these things are of faith and therefore BY GRACE. Faith itself is grace; a gracious gift of God and is dealt out to each of God’s children by measure (Rom. 12:3), and is obtained by us (if we obtain it at all) through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Peter 1:1). Hence, faith being grace we can readily understand why it is by grace if it is of faith. All of salvation in time is of faith that it might be by grace and not left as a matter for boasting by Conditionalists.
The grace, or gift, of faith dwelt richly in Paul and caused him to labor more abundantly than all the others and he therefore said, “I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” He was saved by grace through faith, and attributed his labors to the same source that made him what he was. He said, “By the grace of God I am what I am; and that grace which was bestowed on me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all; yet NOT I, BUT THE GRACE OF GOD which was with me.” God does not consult His subjects as to when, how, or in what form He will bestow His grace upon them. He gave Paul a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him lest through the abundance of the revelation which he had received he should be exalted above measure. This was to humble him and keep him in a state of humility. The man who thinks that he can by his own voluntary obedience bring God under obligation to him and thereby obtain a blessed reward as a matter of debt surely has another “think coming.” That man is “exalted above measure” and needs this thorn in the flesh to humble him. Paul severely condemned voluntary humility. (See Col. 2:16-23). It takes suffering to produce an involuntary humility, and that kind of suffering which makes one serve God with all humility of mind and with many tears as it did Paul. (Acts 20:19).
It is the grace of God that we must have to prepare us to serve God with reverence and godly fear. Solomon said, “By humility, and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life.” “It is given unto us in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” (Phil 1:29). This thorn in the flesh which God has graciously given us to keep us humble is grievous to be borne and yet it is a very profitable gift. God’s grace is many-fold. John said that Christ was full of grace and truth. “And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” Grace for grace does not mean grace for works! We receive grace because of grace. Jesus was full of the grace that was treasured in Him for His people before the world began, and it is of this fullness that His people all receive grace in time because it was given them in Christ before time. We are saved and called with a holy calling, NOT according to OUR WORKS, but according to His own purpose and grace that was given us in Christ before the world began. (II Tim.1:9). Here is two-fold grace in one text. The grace of saving, and the grace of calling. Peter said His grace was manifold. And he speaks of the husband and wife as being heirs together of the grace of life. In Acts 18:27, we read of “believing grace.”
When Appollos was in Achaia he helped them much, who had BELIEVED THROUGH GRACE. We read in many passages of “JUSTIFYING GRACE.” “Being justified FREELY BY HIS GRACE.” We also read of “ELECTING GRACE.” “Even so then, at this present TIME also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” (Rom. 11:5).
And there is SERVING GRACE. “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have GRACE WHEREBY WE MAY SERVE acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (Heb. 12:28). Where do we get this godly fear? It is but another department of the MANIFOLD GRACE OF GOD. God said by Jeremiah, “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will PUT MY FEAR IN THEIR HEARTS that they SHALL NOT DEPART from Me.” But why multiply proofs? The manifold grace of God embraces ALL THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO LIFE AND GODLINESS. And, it is sufficient for His people in every phase of their life. “At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea, as thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.” Paul was given as a pattern to us, if we are God’s people; and he said of himself that he “was before a blasphemer and a persecutor and injurious; but I obtain mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe to life everlasting.” Any man who can volunteer to obey God and thus save himself from this suffering does not measure up to the pattern. When Christ appeared to Ananias and sent him to Paul, he said, “I will shew him how great things HE MUST SUFFER for My name’s sake. And while Paul was greatly suffering from the thorn in his flesh, which God had graciously given him to keep him humble, he besought the Lord three times that it might depart from him, but the Lord said unto him, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (II Cor. 12:9). Then Paul adds, “Most gladly therefore will I RATHER glory in MY INFIRMITIES, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” When Paul found that his thorn in his flesh WAS A GIFT OF GOD to keep him humble, he said he much rather glory in his infirmities, that the power of Christ not depart from him. God told Paul that His grace was SUFFICIENT for him. No Conditionalist can accept this and keep his conditional god on his little throne.
If God’s grace is sufficient for us when the messenger of Satan is filling our flesh with evil suggestions then it needeth not to be supplemented with the puny assistance of man. Paul was not asking God for eternal life. It was for relief in his then present trouble, and God assured him that His grace was sufficient for him in time. When the “spirit (of Satan) that is within us lusteth to envy God giveth more grace.” As the hymn writers have said:
“Tho’ Satan strives your souls t’ensnare,
You’re still the objects of My care;
You’re near My heart, I’ll bring you through;
My grace is sufficient for you.”
“The world and Satan strive in vain
Against the chosen few;
Secure of grace’s conq’ring reign,
They all shall conquer too.”
“Twas grace that called our souls at first
By grace thus far we’ve come,
And grace will help us thru the worst
And lead us safely home.”
“Thru many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come:
‘Tis grace has brot me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.”
“Grace lead my roving feet
To tread the heavenly road,
And new supplies each hour we meet
While pressing on to God.”
No Conditionalist can, in sincerity, sing these blessed old songs. It is no wonder that Paul attributed all that he was as a child of God and as a minister and all that he did (that was worth mentioning) to the grace of God. He was in full accord with the prophet Isaiah, when he said, “Lord, Thou wilt ordain peace for us: for THOU HAST WROUGHT ALL OUR WORKS IN US.” “I will not dare to speak of any of those things which CHRIST HAS NOT WROUGHT BY ME, to make the Gentiles OBEDIENT by word and deed.” (Rom. 15:18). We see in this statement of Paul’s, first, that all he did, all that he would dare to speak of, was what Christ HAD WROUGHT BY HIM. Second, what Christ WROUGHT by Paul and MADE THE GENTILES OBEDIENT, both by WORD AND BY DEED. Christ WROUGHT by Paul; not Paul wrought by Christ as the Conditionalist would have it; and MADE the Gentiles obedient. It was not left up to these Gentiles after regeneration whether they would, or would not, be obedient. God made them obedient, as He does all of His own. Remember that Paul, in speaking of his labors, said, “Yet not I, but the GRACE OF GOD WHICH WAS WITH ME.” If his labors which Christ wrought by him were by the grace of God then it follows that the Gentiles were MADE OBEDIENT by the same GRACE OF GOD. If this is true, then there is no such thing as conditional salvation, either for time or eternity! Conditionalists seem to have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being very ignorant of God’s righteousness, go about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness which is of God. No man has ever been righteous, in nature, word, thought, or deed, that was not so made by the GRACE OF GOD.
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord. “And their righteousness IS OF ME SAITH THE LORD.” All Conditionalists lay claim to a righteousness in time which is not of God; but is admittedly, of themselves by their own voluntary action.
As a hymn writer observed:
“Self righteous souls on works rely,
And boast their moral dignity;
But if I lisp a song of praise,
Each note shall echo, GRACE, FREE GRACE.
T’was grace that quickened me when dead
And grace my soul to Jesus lead;
Grace brot me pardon for my sin,
And grace subdues my lusts within.
‘Tis GRACE that sweetens every cross,
‘Tis GRACE supports in every loss;
In Jesus’ GRACE my soul is strong,
GRACE is my hope, and GRACE my song.
‘Tis GRACE upholds when danger’s near;
By GRACE alone I persevere;
‘Tis GRACE constrains my soul to love,
GRACE, GRACE is ALL they sing above.
‘Tis thus ALONE of GRACE I boast
And ‘tis in GRACE I trust;
For ALL that’s past GRACE is my theme,
For what’s to come ‘tis still the same.
In countless years of GRACE I’ll sing,
Adore and bless my heavenly King;
I’ll cast my crown before HIS throne,
And SHOUT, FREE GRACE, FREE GRACE ALONE!”
May grace, mercy and peace from God, the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ be with all the household of faith.
A poor sinner saved by grace if saved at all.
(Elder) J. C. Sikes.