A Study of 2 Corinthians 4:6
2 Corinthians 4:6
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
In this verse God the Holy Spirit gives us one of the most comprehensive statements in the Bible concerning the role of the Gospel in salvation, and concerning the main issue of the Gospel — GOD’S REDEMPTIVE GLORY. This is salvation because to see this glory is to be saved. This is a spiritual illumination by the truth of the Gospel in the power of God the Holy Spirit. The Gospel is God’s promise of eternal salvation and final glory conditioned on Christ. It reveals that God has engaged every attribute of His character to fulfill that promise based on the righteousness of Christ. This revelation is where the veil of self-righteousness, self-love, and religious pride is removed and sinners see the first and foremost purpose of the law. The same God who created the world and spoke light into existence is the same God who creates a new creature in Christ and brings him to a knowledge of His glory in Christ. The Glory of God here is not mystical. It is the specific revelation of God’s attributes revealed in the salvation of sinners based on the imputed righteousness of Christ. Here we see how every attribute of God’s character is engaged, honored, and revealed in salvation conditioned on Christ. The face of Jesus Christ is not mystical. It is His Person which qualified and equipped Him to accomplish His work of accomplishing such a great redemption.
The purpose of this article is to show how the main issue in defining and witnessing the Gospel is God’s glory, the honor and revelation of God’s redemptive character, and that the main issue in God’s glory is the Person and work of Christ to establish a righteousness to be the only ground of salvation. This is revealed in the Gospel. This is what it means to say that God’s glory in Christ, and this is what it means to preach Christ crucified.
“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else”.
Here we have an absolute and unconditional promise from a sovereign, powerful, merciful, and gracious God, the only true and living God, as opposed to idols (Isaiah 45:20). This is a promise of eternal salvation based on the fact that God is faithful to save sinners based upon His free, unmerited favor, revealed in His purpose to save sinners, to justify the ungodly, conditioned, not on the sinner, but on a God-sent Substitute. The only Substitute sent of God is God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone is able to represent sinners before a holy God, and who alone can, as their Substitute, satisfy God’s law and justice on their behalf. Sinners, active idolaters, are commanded and fully warranted to believe God’s promise of salvation conditioned on Christ alone, and to repent of ever thinking that anything but His righteousness could recommend sinners unto God.
In order to be saved, sinners must look to God the Father as sending God the Son to fulfill all the conditions of our salvation, to establish a righteousness whereby He can be just to justify the ungodly. In order to be saved, sinners must look to Christ as the One sent by the Father and the one who has fulfilled all conditions and established a righteousness that insures the eternal salvation of all whom He represented (John 5:23-24; John 12:42, John 12:44; John 6:29, John 6:39-40; John 17:3). Isaiah spoke of the Father sending the Son to save a people through His redemptive work of establishing this righteousness (Isaiah 53; Isaiah 45:23-25). This is the Gospel. This is a promise from God in which He has engaged every attribute of His character, His glory, to fulfill. It is so sure and certain God will fulfill it, we can assure everyone who hears God’s Gospel that God will save them based on the righteousness of Christ freely imputed and received by faith.
GOD’S REDEMPTIVE CHARACTER
God’s redemptive character, how God reveals Himself in salvation, is His chief glory. We cannot properly identify the God of redemption, and, therefore, call on sinners to believe unto salvation, until we preach the particulars revealing how He justifies the ungodly based on the righteousness of Christ. Everything we preach by way of encouragement, warning, exhortation, and instruction, whether it be to lost sinners to believe and be saved, or whether it be to saved sinners to persevere, to use the means of grace and grow in knowledge and obedience, is to be preached in this light.
Many preach truths about God without identifying the particulars that show Him to be both a just God and a Savior. They may preach God as Creator, and we must respect Him as such. They may preach God as totally and absolutely sovereign, and we must bow to Him as such. Many say that salvation is bowing to the sovereignty of God and the Lordship of Christ, and this is true. But what does that mean? They may preach God as immutable, and we must acknowledge this great truth. We could name everyone of God’s attributes individually, and we could properly claim that this is the only true and living God with which all men have to do. Sinners will bow to this God or they will perish. But bowing to God in such a way as to avoid perishing has to do with seeing God as the one who justifies the ungodly based on the merits of the obedience and death of Christ.
A person may have some understanding of certain aspects of God’s character, and they may even preach the truth about these particular aspects. But until they have preached the particulars revealing how God justifies the ungodly based on the righteousness of Christ, they have not properly identified the God of salvation, a just God and a Savior. In these particulars we see every attribute of God’s holy character revealed, honored, and magnified in the salvation of sinners conditioned on Christ alone. This is God’s redemptive character and redemptive glory. It is God’s highest glory, the greatest revelation of Himself.
In the Scripture, all of God’s attributes are revealed to lead sinners to this great truth. Keep in mind, as we preach the character of God, that
“these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
1 John 5:13
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Everything God reveals in His Word is revealed ultimately to glorify Him as both a just God and a Savior, and to lead sinners to believe on Him as the God who justifies the ungodly based upon the righteousness of Christ. Remember, the Gospel is God’s promise of eternal salvation and final glory conditioned on Christ alone. The Gospel reveals how every attribute of God’s character is revealed, honored and magnified in that salvation based on the righteousness of Christ. The Gospel begins with God who is the Source and Originator of salvation. It concerns His Son who is the only Mediator between God and men, and by whose obedience and death God is enabled to justify the ungodly. The first thing revealed in God’s Word, after the Fall of man, was the promise of salvation conditioned on Christ (Genesis 3:15). Everything revealed about God from then on is revealed to encourage sinners (fallen, depraved, active idolaters) to believe this promise and repent from idolatry and dead works. None of it is revealed to discourage sinners, to frighten sinners away, or to promote legal fears or legal repentance.
GOD’S GLORY — HIS ULTIMATE PURPOSE
Everyone who believes the Gospel, every sinner in whose heart God has been glorified, has been given by God the Holy Spirit a threefold desire:
1. An honest zeal for the glory and honor of God.
2. A sincere concern for the preeminence of Christ.
3. A fervent desire for the salvation of sinners.
God’s foremost design in all things is His own glory. He reigns and disposes of everything in this universe, from the rise and fall of nations to the death of a sparrow, for this purpose. Since God’s glory is the goal of all things, then God’s purpose in the salvation of sinners by Jesus Christ is to glorify Himself. Salvation, therefore, is the gracious and marvelous work of God glorifying Himself in the hearts of sinners. This occurs when God the Holy Spirit, in regeneration and conversion, enlightens a sinner’s mind “to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” As stated, this is true salvation! This is the greatest blessing God can give to sinners. This blessing includes every other blessing because all blessings are aimed towards the goal of God’s glory.
God is glorified in our hearts personally when we see all the infinite perfections of His character actively engaged and honored in our salvation by Jesus Christ our Lord. God the Holy Spirit enables us in the new birth to see that God our Father appointed His Son to be our Mediator and Surety in order to meet and satisfy all of the conditions of our salvation. Christ came to do everything necessary to merit for us all grace here and all glory hereafter. This is when we see God glorified. This is when we behold the glory of God in the person and accomplished work of Jesus Christ our Lord. The evidence of this is when we are convinced that the perfections of God’s character will not allow Him to save any sinner based on anything other than the imputed righteousness of Christ. This is what keeps us from speaking peace to ourselves and to others when ignorant of or not submitted to the righteousness of Christ as the only ground of eternal salvation and final glory.
In John 17:1-4, we see all of this realized in Christ Himself in His priestly prayer.
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
It was Christ’s work of redemption that glorified His Father by revealing all the infinite perfections of God’s character honored in the salvation of sinners by Christ. Christ’s mediatorial work reveals and honors the true character of God, a just God and a Savior. This clearly teaches us that in order to know the true character of God, we must have honoring views of Christ and His mediatorial offices and work. All of the offices and the duties that those offices demand are entrusted to the Person of Christ in order that God be glorified in the salvation sinners (2 Corinthians 5:19). We see, then, how every true believer’s threefold desire is inseparably joined. If any sinner is to be saved, God must be glorified, Christ must be exalted, and all ground of boasting for the sinner must be removed. Therefore, we cannot compromise the Person, offices, or redemptive, atoning work of Christ, because this would compromise God’s character, His glory. To do so, even in the name of love and compassion, or so as not to offend, is to promote sinners remaining in idolatry, ignorant of the only true God and Jesus Christ. No sinner will be saved under such compromise, because such compromise destroys the Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation.
GOD’S GLORY — THE STANDARD OF ALL JUDGMENT
We who believe the Gospel must judge all things by the standard of God’s glory, and we must seek to be motivated in all our desires by that same glory. It is our love and compassion, therefore, for lost sinners and our desire to see them saved that keeps us from compromising the truth concerning God’s glory and Christ’s Person and work. This is what motivates us to preach the Gospel to the lost and tell them the truth about their lost condition and the wickedness of their best efforts aimed at the ground of salvation. We see an example of this in the Apostle Paul who refused to compromise the Gospel. He loved His countrymen so much, but he refused to dishonor God or deny Christ to win their approval and friendship by counting them saved.
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
For Christ the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
It was this refusal to compromise God’s glory that brought great persecution and reproach upon Christ, as well as the prophets of old, the apostles, and all who truly believe the Gospel. This persecution comes mainly from the religious world, even our loved ones and neighbors. We are accused of not showing a gracious spirit, of being too narrow and dogmatic, of being uncharitable and offensive, of being heresy-hunters, all of which are not true. We desire to be liked, respected, and well thought of, but not at the expense of God’s glory and Christ’s preeminence.
The Apostle Paul spoke of “the offense of the cross” (Galatians 5:11). The offense of the cross is the fact that God can only be glorified in salvation conditioned upon Christ alone, based upon His righteousness freely imputed and received by faith. The offense comes when we tell sinners that all who are either ignorant of or not submitted to Christ’s righteousness are lost and their deeds are evil (John 3:18-20; 7:7). Their deeds are evil, not because of immorality which is evil, but because their deeds are opposed to God’s glory. When a person believes that he can do something to earn, merit, or qualify himself for salvation, he is denying the redemptive glory of God in salvation conditioned on Christ alone. This is an abomination to God (Luke 16:15). This is why their deeds are evil, and this is offensive to self-righteous, religiously proud sinners. The only way to escape the offense of the cross is to compromise God’s glory by speaking peace to such sinners when there is no peace.
God is jealous of His character, His glory (Exodus 34:13-14). He never encourages His people to compromise His glory in order to win friends, influence people, or gain and keep an audience. When we are tempted, as we many times are, to avoid controversy and to avoid the offense of the cross, in the name of love or to get someone to listen to us, we should always remember God’s honor and God’s love. God’s love subjected His Son to the greatest depths of humiliation, suffering, and even death in order to maintain the honor of God’s character in salvation. Christ on the cross proves that God could not and would not compromise His glory to save even one sinner.
We who believe the Gospel cannot avoid controversy and persecution in this world because all of the foundational truths of genuine Christianity are controversial and offensive to the natural, religious world. Christ promised suffering and persecution to all his disciples because of this (Matthew 5:10-11; John 15:18-22; 16:1-3). The Apostle Paul wrote in Hebrews 12 that any who are not chastised are “bastards” and not sons, children of God (Hebrews 12:6-8). Chastisement in Hebrews 12 has to do with those who suffer for the Gospel. The point is that any who seek to avoid the persecution of the cross in order to gain the approval of the world are not children of God. Sinners by nature hate the Gospel because they are led by another spirit to believe in a counterfeit christ and worship and serve a false god. As long as this is the case, and as long as we seek their salvation, we will encounter controversy and persecution.
The issue is not a mere point of non-vital doctrine, as some would say. It is not simply that sinners are saved without this knowledge and only need teaching. The issue has to do with eternal life or eternal death, true worship or idolatry. Their can be no eternal life apart from a revealed knowledge of the true and living God, a just God and a Savior. The first saving view of God a sinner has is of the God who justifies the ungodly based solely upon the merits of Christ’s blood and righteousness. There can be no true worship apart from attributing unto God those qualities of character that belong to Him as a just God and a Savior. God delights in that which most glorifies Him. That which most glorifies Him, which reveals all the perfections of His character, is the full, free, eternal salvation of sinners by Jesus Christ. Sinners are fully warranted and commanded to trust in that which glorifies God.
GOD’S GLORY — THE DEFEAT OF SATAN
Satan’s attacks are always aimed against God’s glory in salvation. It is in this context that we understand the wiles of Satan. Satan’s goal is to keep sinners in a state of condemnation, and his main weapon is deceit concerning the glory of God and the ground of salvation. Satan’s attacks are always aimed against God being glorified in the hearts of sinners.
2 Corinthians 4:3
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
2 Corinthians 4:4
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
The sad fact is that the vast majority of people in this religious generation who claim to be saved, who even claim that their salvation was by Christ alone and by grace alone, believe and support a system of doctrine that dishonors the Father and the Son. This is not to question the sincerity and morality of such people. Most of them sincerely believe that their doctrine gives glory to God. But, as we will see, they are deceived by Satan. This religious generation believes, for example, that men and women already know God and that all they need is to accept Christ as their “personal savior” for salvation. This kind of thinking is opposed to God’s Word, opposed to God’s glory, and opposed to the Gospel.
When a sinner believes in Christ, he must of necessity be convinced that he was formerly an idolater. It is impossible to know the true and living God apart from knowing the only true Christ and what He accomplished in the redemption of sinners. Until we see how God, the true and living God, the God of redemption, can be just to justify the ungodly based on the merits of Christ’s righteousness imputed alone, we worship and serve a god who cannot save, a god who is no god at all. Until we see God as just to justify us based on the righteousness of Christ, to the praise of His glory, we cannot know God as our Father.
Salvation is a change of gods. It is a change from being a servant of sin, worshipping a god of our own imagination, to being a servant of righteousness, worshipping and serving the true and living God (Romans 6:17-18). Salvation involves a change of doctrine, but unless this change of doctrine involves true repentance where we change our minds concerning God, then there is no salvation at all. Many have changed doctrines who have never changed gods. For example, many have come from being “free-will Arminians” to being “five-point Calvinists,” but who still insist they were saved under that system of doctrine that dishonors every attribute of God’s redemptive character, casts shame and reproach upon the Person and work of Christ, and leaves room for the sinner to boast. They have never truly believed the Gospel, and they have never truly repented.
Being lost is directly related to not knowing the true character of God in redemption. Being saved is directly related to knowing the true character of God in redemption (Jeremiah 9:24). To be lost is to be without an acceptable approach to God. Many, in the name of morality and religion, attempt to approach God without a proper mediator, i.e., without God appointed Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, based on His righteousness alone. Most who claim that Christ is their savior have never even heard of an imputed righteousness. When such a sinner attempts to approach a holy God, without regard to the imputed righteousness of Christ, this gives evidence of ignorance of God Himself. Apart from Christ and His righteousness God is a consuming fire full of wrath (Hebrews 12:28-29). If we are truly saved we continually behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We see the true nature of God’s holiness and love which we could not see apart from Christ’s Person and His atoning work. This is the only proper ground for any sinner to approach a holy and just God and find acceptance. God tells us in Romans 3:10-12 that by nature we do not know the God of salvation and the only true way of salvation.
How can we know the only way of salvation apart from knowing the true character of God and Christ Jesus whom God sent?
As stated before, many who have changed doctrines but who have not repented contend that they were saved while they preached, believed, and/or supported a system of doctrine that dishonors every attribute of God’s character and which casts shame and reproach upon Christ’s Person and whole mediatorial work, His atonement. Satan’s goal is to keep them from seeing this awesome reality in light of the glory of God. Satan uses many false doctrines that appeal to men by nature and which make salvation, or some part of it, conditioned on the sinner. For example, one such false doctrine is universal or indefinite atonement. Consider the following:
1. Universal or indefinite atonement states that Christ died for all without exception conditionally. It states that His death was a sincere attempt to save everyone, but that it secured the salvation of no one, except those who meet certain conditions, usually faith, repentance, and/or perseverance. This false notion teaches that Christ’s death did not actually save anyone, but it merely makes sinners savable.
2. There is a more subtle heresy derived from universal atonement. Many say that Christ’s death was sufficient for all without exception but effectual only for God’s elect based upon their meeting the conditions of faith and repentance. They are quick to say that God gives His elect faith and repentance, but it is still a subtle heresy in that it diminishes the value of the death of Christ, His righteousness, and exalts the value of the work of the Holy Spirit in the sinner. This is more subtle than universal atonement, there is no real difference since both ultimately make salvation conditioned upon the sinner.
Satan is a clever, subtle devil, and the natural heart is: “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).
This means that it is opposed to God’s glory. Satan has his goal to blind the hearts of sinners from having honoring views of God’s redemptive character. The carnal mind, being at enmity against God, will always take sides with Satan in this matter. It may seem to honor the Father and the Son to say that God loves everyone and that Christ died for everyone. But this actually dishonors the Father and the Son, because it means that God’s love does not actually secure the salvation of anyone and the death of Christ did not actually merit any spiritual life or blessings for anyone. It would be like saying that Christ redeemed everyone but that He actually redeemed no one.
Universal and indefinite atonement may seem to put much value upon the precious blood of Christ, when, in fact, it puts no real value at all upon Christ’s blood, in and of itself. It teaches that notwithstanding Christ’s all of Christ’s efforts in His humiliation, sufferings, and death, He did not actually earn salvation for any one sinner. It teaches that Christ’s atonement, His death, His righteousness, in and of itself, does no more for those in heaven than it does for those in hell. In fact, it teaches, as one false preacher has stated, that hell is really a monument to the failure of the Father and the Son to do what they set out to do. How dishonoring to the sovereignty, faithfulness, justice, love, and mercy of God! If sinners fail to meet the conditions, they will perish regardless of God’s love and regardless of Christ’s whole mediatorial work of redemption. In this kind of system, it not God’s love nor Christ’s death that makes the difference between heaven and hell. It is the sinner’s faith, repentance, and/or perseverance. In this kind of system, God’s love and Christ’s death are merely, as Augustus Toplady stated, “pedestals upon which a sinner can boast of his free will.” A sinner would have to be deceived to believe such error.
Can such a faith that denies the infinite value of the precious blood of Christ be the gift of God?
It is worse than useless. It is an abomination unto God. No one would preach, believe, or support such a system of doctrine if they could see the God-dishonoring, Christ-denying implications. Such doctrine denies that which the Scriptures set forth as the only ground of salvation, the imputed righteousness of Christ (Romans 8:31-34), and it denies the foundation of the security of the believer, God’s infinite love (Romans 8:35-39). Sinners by nature do not know and understand such implications. We who believe the Gospel must have enough love and compassion for sinners to raise these issues and clearly state the implications, even at the expense of being persecuted. This is why Christ would not compromise the Father’s glory with the religionists of His day (John 5:41-44). This is one of those areas in which true believers are to seek to be conformed to His image.
GOD’S GLORY — THE PROVISION OF SALVATION
Let us now raise the issues and clearly state the implications by an explanation of an earlier statement. We stated earlier that in the full, free salvation of guilty, hell-deserving sinners, based on the righteousness of Christ, we see the true nature of God’s love and God’s holiness. GOD IS LOVE (1 John 4:10), and the greatest evidence of God’s love is His sending His Son to die to honor His character in the salvation of guilty sinners. By nature all men are “dead in trespasses and sins,” guilty, depraved, without spiritual life, incapable of thinking, feeling, choosing, acting, enjoying, or loving communion with a holy and just God. If any are to be saved, God must in love choose and bestow eternal life upon them by the Savior. The Gospel declares that God in everlasting love, according to His own will and good pleasure, chose out of Adam’s fallen race a multitude of undeserving sinners which no man can number, and that He appointed His Son to be their Mediator and Surety. God laid all of the responsibility of their salvation upon Christ. Herein is God’s love.
God’s love is guided by His infinite wisdom and it is accompanied by His infinite power. There can be no obstacle that God’s wisdom has not foreseen or that His power cannot remove in the salvation of all the objects of His love, all whom He purposed to save. The definite nature and scope of the death of Christ lies in His representing the sinners for whom He became Mediator and Surety. They were all those whom the Father had given Him out of Adam’s fallen race before the foundation of the world (John 6:37). God the Son became incarnate in order to successfully accomplish all the duties of His offices on behalf of His sheep. All of the conditions for their salvation were laid upon Him alone. The main condition of their salvation was that God be glorified. His having met and satisfied the conditions insures that every attribute of God’s holy nature demands the salvation of everyone whom He represented, for whom He lived and died. God’s love and holiness, His truth and faithfulness, His wisdom and mercy, His grace and justice, all being manifested, honored, and satisfied in Christ, demand that all whom Christ represented be made partakers of eternal life (John 17:2).
Another more subtle heresy that is opposed to God’s glory in salvation is the view that many of God’s elect, even the majority, will hate and totally reject God’s Gospel in this life and still be saved. Those who believe this heresy say that may of God’s elect will not come to a saving knowledge of Christ here on earth, but they will find out at the Judgment that they were elect, and, thus, saved. They say that many of God’s elect will never hear the Gospel, never come to saving faith and true repentance. They believe that this honors God’s sovereignty in salvation and that it takes away all the works of man in salvation. It is true that a universal/indefinite atonement and a conditional salvation denies everything that actually honors the character of God and everything that exalts Christ as Mediator. It is also true that to deny that all for whom Christ died will actually experience eternal life is deny God and His Christ. To deny that any of God’s elect will come to faith and repentance is to deny the same, because it denies the certainty of the Holy Spirit’s application of salvation to God’s elect in this life. The Holy Spirit’s work in the elect sinner is the direct fruit and effect of Christ’s work for the elect sinner. It all goes back to the glory of God in Christ.
To deny that any of God’s elect will come to faith and repentance also denies the everlasting covenant of grace. This covenant of grace declares that God the Father has actively engaged all of the infinite perfections of His character to save all the object of His love through Christ. Considering that a sinner is not saved until God is glorified in his heart (mind, affections, and will), it is necessary that the sinner be born again, come to faith in Christ and repentance of former idolatry and dead works, by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel. The glory of God, every attribute of His character, is just as much concerned and engaged to bring His elect to faith and repentance as it was engaged to redeem them. Christ’s mediatorial glory consists in the fact that He is our Priest to redeem us, our Prophet to reveal God’s glory to us, and our King to make sure that nothing keeps us from being made partakers of all grace here and all glory hereafter. Those who deny this think themselves to be wiser than God. God has purposed and provided all things necessary to honor His sovereignty, as well as all His attributes, and to remove all ground of boasting on the part of men, in His purpose to glorify Himself in salvation conditioned on Christ alone. The promise itself, wherein God’s glory is revealed, honors God, exalts Christ, and excludes all grounds of boasting on the part of sinners.
Deceived sinners will raise many objections to the truths raised in this article. They will even wrest Scripture to prove their false views. One of the most misused is John 3:16.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
They claim that the word “world” here proves that God’s love and Christ’s death are universal. But this Scripture teaches no such God-dishonoring doctrine. It merely shows the magnitude of God’s love, not to every individual, but to mankind, in the salvation of His elect through Christ. It is through God’s elect, based on the righteousness of Christ, that mankind will be preserved forever.
Many refuse to believe the truths of election and definite atonement because they think it means God refuses salvation to sinners who desire to be saved. But election, definite atonement, and the Gospel, wherein God’s glory is revealed, shuts no sinner out of heaven. The Gospel is God’s promise of eternal salvation and final glory conditioned on Christ alone. From this revealed truth, God commands all without exception to believe His promise of salvation and seek justification and eternal life based on the imputed righteousness of Christ alone.
God is faithful to fulfill this specific promise to everyone, whosoever believes.
The reason sinners refuse to believe this is due to self-righteousness that causes them to insists on a conditional salvation, giving the sinner room to boast. Men by nature do not really care whether or not God is glorified in salvation. They may desire salvation, and they may seek it diligently and continually in their own way. But until their way is rejected and God’s way is received, there will be no salvation. Sinners by nature think too highly of themselves and too little of God. The command of the Gospel is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and repent from ever thinking that any part of salvation was conditioned on the sinner. This is the message that sinners by nature hate, but it is the only message can, if God be pleased, be the power of God unto their salvation. This is the message that true love to God and a true concern for His glory will not compromise. This is the message that the world labels uncompassionate.
Read the following quote from William Rushton’s “Defence of Particular Redemption.”
“There is a kind of charity prevalent among us, a spurious charity which rejoiceth not in the truth. It is now though an evidence of a bigoted spirit, to contend earnestly for the peculiar doctrines of grace; and it is considered the mark of a candid disposition to bear with doctrines opposed to truth, and to cover such opposition with the mantle of charity and forbearance. But how often does it occur that those amiable persons who can easily forbear, when only the honor of God and the glory of Christ are concerned; have very little forbearance, when their own dignity is wounded or their pride mortified. O how indignant are they when personally offended! How wroth, how implacable! Who would think that these amiable creatures, who are so charitable when the honor of Christ is wounded, could exercise so little forbearance when their own selves are injured.”
God’s testimony is not given to drive sinners away from Christ!
It is given for the recovery of sinners, that sinners would see their need of God’s grace and believe God’s promise of salvation conditioned on Christ!
These things are revealed so that sinners would come to repent from idolatry and dead works. We beseech sinners to be reconciled to God. All sinners who hear the Gospel have every reason to ask God to glorify Himself in their hearts. The command of the Gospel is a command to desire the honor of God’s character above all things and be loyal to God’s glory in Christ against all opposition!