Can you, young people, without hesitation, present the basic reason why God saves us from our sins? Can you point out the chief purpose of the salvation which He realizes in Christ? Do you know what must be presented as the basic purpose of salvation?
There are in Scripture, as you have been taught – or will soon be taught in your catechism class – seven elements in our salvation. It begins with regeneration. And that is God’s work of causing His elect to be born with a new spiritual life. We all come into this life spiritually dead, as Paul points out in Ephesians 2:1. There we read, “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” And, according to I Corinthians 15:22, “In Adam all die.” Since Adam died spiritually, every earthly father brings forth a spiritually dead child. And that is why Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.” John 3:3. What an awesome truth! How necessary then is regeneration, that rebirth wrought by God in His grace!
Having caused us to be born again, God causes us to be called to walk and live as His covenant children. He calls us to the consciousness of a salvation He realizes in His Son. And He also causes us to believe this glorious and comforting truth. Having caused us to be born again He calls us and realizes faith in us. We believe that He regenerated us and calls us as His elect children.
Then, having worked in us these three elements of salvation, our God causes us to be assured that all our sins have been blotted out. He causes us to know and believe that we are justified by what His Son did for us. Many years ago, and over the radio on a religious program, a man – whose name I do not know – said that to be justified means that God deals with me just as if I’d never sinned. That is true! That is a wonderful gift of God’s grace. For by it He makes us legally perfect through His son, Who never sinned, and Who loves only that which pleases God. To be justified means to be legally right in God’s eyes; and therefore, that we will not receive, even for one split second, one bit of punishment for the sins which we committed; and that Christ Jesus, His Son, suffered all the torment which we deserve because of our sins.
What our God also gives us in His grace is called sanctification. Our Dutch language presents that word sanctification very beautifully. It calls sanctification “heiligmaking.” And that element “heilig” means holy. The other element in that word, namely “making” which is pronounced differently than in our English language, does mean what our words making means. Sanctification is that work of God’s grace whereby He makes us holy, makes us able and willing to walk in love in His holy law.
There are two more elements in our salvation, and are presented in Scripture as preservation and glorification. Thus, in Philippians 1:6 we read, “Being confident of this very thing, that He Who hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Not one elect child of God will, after he is born again, die spiritually and become an unbeliever. Jehovah, the I AM – for that is the meaning of that name Jehovah – will keep us in the faith. We may slip and slide like Peter did, when he denied Jesus three times. But when the cock crowed, he went out and wept bitterly because of his sin. Matthew 26:74, 75.
And the last element in our salvation is glorification. Just read Revelation 21 and 22, and see what a glorious life we will have when Christ returns. All tears will be wiped away from our eyes. There will be no death, no sorrow or crying. There will be no night there, no curse; and we shall receive beautiful bodies, far more beautiful than Adam’s and Eve’s before they fell into sin. In fact, according to Hebrews 1:13, 14 we shall be above the highest angels.
Now the basic question is: “Why does God do all this? Why does He save us from our guilt, and pretty soon from all sinful activity? What is behind all this wonderful work of salvation? And the answer is: So that He, the one and only God, may be served and glorified.
Young People, if we do not want salvation, as the gift that makes us able and willing to glorify God, we do not want salvation. And churches that simply preach and teach deliverance from punishment, and not from sin, are not Christian churches. The world wants salvation from the afflictions, pain and misery of the body, which Adam’s sin brought into this world. Even Satan would like to have that kind of salvation. He, and all in his devilish kingdom, both men and angels, want escape from the everlasting torments of hell, into which they are going to be cast. Unbelievers do not want to be saved from hatred against God, but merely from its punishment.
The truth, to which by God’s grace we can and must cling, is that He saves us so that we can consciously and willingly serve and glorify Him in all our thoughts and will and actions of the body. Do we not in Psalm 139:14 read? “I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” And if we do not want to praise God with our hearts as well as with our mouths, we do not have the beginning of salvation.
In Psalm 65:1 the psalmist correctly states: “Praise waiteth for Thee, O God, in Zion; and unto Thee shall the vow be performed.” God saves us so that we may everlastingly praise Him in His new creation. And that word translated as “waiteth” means “is silent”. The idea here is that the psalmist, David, declares, that when by God’s grace we are saved from sin, our souls are silent, in the sense that we do not and will not boast about what we did, but that we praise God for what He did. God saves us, and we when saved will not boast about what we did, but what God did in us and for us. In the new Jerusalem those who are saved will do with their mouths that which their hearts were by God enabled to do.
Young People, do not leave our churches and go where salvation is only presented as that which brings joy to man’s flesh. Our churches rightly sing, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.” Note: ALL blessings flow. And it is important that we sing that with our hearts, and not simply with our mouths.
Do not let anyone teach you, or even preach to you, a god who can be changed by men, and be frustrated by a spiritually dead man’s works. The striking thing in the Old Testament is that in the original copy of the 39 books thereof, the name Jehovah is presented hundreds of times. That name means I AM. And surely that means that He never changes His mind or His will, or His works. It means that He always was, is and will be what is expressed in His other name, which is Lord. For He is the Lord of all lords, the King of all kings. Let NO ONE tell you that Jehovah, the I AM, is changed by spiritually dead people, and caused to stop doing what He is trying to do. Cast away all that false doctrine that spiritually dead men can and do frustrate the almighty God. As the I AM, God is not frustrated by offering salvation. He does not offer it! He is not a fool to offer salvation to those spiritually dead. He knows that they are spiritually dead. He told Adam that the day he would eat that forbidden fruit he would die. And He did die spiritually that day. Can the almighty I AM become an I Was, because a creature does not accept His offer? If God only offers salvation, He is not the I AM. Then thousands upon thousands of people make Him the I Was. Jehovah does NOT offer salvation. He commands all men to believe He is God and to serve Him. But He does not offer salvation even to those whom He chose in Christ. He causes them to be regenerated, called, have faith, be justified, sanctified, preserved and glorified. And even the desire for salvation is His gift to us.
Let us go a step further. Let not man teach you that God sends His grace for a time, on unbelievers whom He did not eternally choose in Christ. Reject wholeheartedly the teaching that Jehovah, the I AM, exercises in this life a “common grace” upon those whom He did not elect in Christ before He created the world. If God is gracious to those whom He did not eternally elect in Christ, He was wrong when He told Adam that he would die the day that he ate of the forbidden fruit. Giving death to a man cannot mean that God will still be gracious to him.
The word grace means favor; and if our God is going to favor those whom He did not eternally choose in Christ, then, because He is the I AM, He would have to do that even after they die. How can His grace be upon those whom He casts into hell? He will, indeed, give those not chosen in Christ things that appeal to their flesh; but not in His grace. As the I AM, He does not change His attitude to those not chosen in Christ. The gracious I AM does not become that I Was a gracious God!
The word grace refers only to those for whom He sent Christ. In Romans 9:13 He says – not simply Paul – “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Can God’s grace be bestowed on those whom He hates? Since God is Jehovah, the I AM, which means that He does not change, dare we change His name into I WAS, one Who was in this life gracious to the reprobate, but changes His attitude after they die? Dare we since He is the I AM, even think that there might be a little grace, a common grace, in hell? Will the I AM change?
In Psalm 5:5, 6 we read, “The foolish shall not stand in Thy sight; Thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful men.” Does God’s hatred cause Him to deal graciously, and favor those whom He hates? No, Young People, it is either . . . or! ALL of God’s grace comes through Christ; and falls only on those for whom Christ died. Salvation’s basic purpose is God’s glory. And, as the I AM, He does not deal in His grace, that is, in His favor, upon those for whom He did not send His Son to redeem them. Those not chosen in Christ deserve His wrath, because He is the I AM, and not the I Was. We can change, as so often we do, in thinking and willing. But Jehovah never changes His mind or will; and God saves us because, as we read in Ephesians 1:4, He, before the foundation of the world, elected us in His Son.
Jehovah, the I AM gracious to those chosen in Christ, never becomes the I WAS gracious to those I eternally did not choose in Christ. In no way and to no degree, or at any time does Jehovah change in any way!