The Felt Need For Salvation
When we consider that, as David confessed, men are “shapened in iniquity; and in sin” did their “mother conceive” them (Psalm 51:5,) and that “the wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies” (Psalm 58:3,) it becomes certain that man is in no way able to save, or help to save, himself. He has always been depraved.
Before the flood, God saw that “every imagination of man’s heart was evil,” and after the flood it remained unchanged. (Genesis 6:5 and 8:21)
Today, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
“The natural man” is totally depraved, “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1-6). In fact, the highest and best part of man is his conscience, and “even their mind and conscience is defiled” (Titus 1:15). This condition being so, natural men cannot grieve over sin. “Sin is the transgression of the law.” And the “carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7-8)
Being dead to spiritual things, natural men cannot be alarmed over sin; cannot feel poverty stricken, or “poor and needy,” nor can they “hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Yet, it is these very conditions which identify those who are the objects of the Gospel message:
“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”
The overwhelming numbers of religious people today seems to have never felt themselves to be the “chief of sinners” and standing in dire need for God’s salvation. They are satisfied with being man-made “Christians.” This is abundantly evident in the simply-minded schemes they invent and press upon others to “get saved.”
The Gospel of the grace of God declares Christ to be the Savior of sinners. Nowhere does the Bible set forth plans of salvation, decisions for Christ, nor bits and pieces of the law or “Gospel” to be the saviors of righteous folk.
On the contrary, the Bible sets forth a very ugly and pitiful condition in which sinners are born. They are born “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).
They had their “conversations in times past in the lusts of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Ephesians 2:3).
That “at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).
Simply put, that is a woeful and helpless condition. Such men cannot be feelingly sensible of their sins, and consequently, of their need for salvation. Yet, the Bible sets forth the condition of natural men even worse than the above. Let us look at some.
First, “there is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10)
So none have anything by which they can commend themselves to God. God owes none of them anything but strict justice. While they may boast of all kinds of goodness, charities and political correctness, “there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11).
That destroys the whole fabric of evangelical motivation. It is sometimes said that no matter what it cost, if only one sinner is saved, it is worth it. [but, they can spend fortunes on palaces in which they praise themselves in will-worship – and nothing they spend money upon saves any sinner!]
“They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; [worthless] there is none that doeth good, no, not one”
And how descriptive of too many “Christians” today:
“Their mouth is an open sepulcher [grave]; the poison of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known; there is no fear of God before their eyes.”
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight.”
And this is said of GOD’S LAW!
What of man’s plans of salvation?
Can any one think they could they be better than God’s?
If the above can be said of God’s law, what then can legitimately be said of man-made plans and schemes of salvation?
If by the deeds of God’s law no flesh can be justified in His sight, then we must readily conclude that by Andrew Fuller’s plan of salvation, no flesh can be justified in His sight.
Surely, if by that law that Paul says “is just holy and good,” no man can be justified, then, it stands to reason that by mental decisions for Christ, shall no flesh be justified in His sight.
Is that not a reasonable conclusion?
Simply put, none of these things can redeem us from the curse of a broken law; none of them can provide a needed ransom in order for the captive to go free, neither can any of them pay the debt accrued by the transgression of the law for sinners. There is nothing a lifeless carnal person can do to help attain salvation. And in fact, since salvation is completed in Christ’s atonement, these plans and programs are not needed anyway.
As Paul said again, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness came by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Galatians 2:21).
One may extrapolate readily from this divine principle:
Can one walk down an aisle and make a decision whether Christ died or no?
Can one believe in Christ as readily as in Caesar, George Bush, Billy Graham, or anyone else, without Christ dying?
These man-made works – even if those that are commanded of God – cannot save a man from the power, dominion, penalty, or love of sin.
“If righteousness came by any plan of salvation, verily, Christ died in vain.”
Repentance did not die on the cross. Faith, or moral suasion, (merely believing something) did not suffer for our sins. Decisions are activities of the carnal mind, and cannot atone for sins. Walking down a church’s aisle can only make one a member of a religious institution; but none can walk into the kingdom of God.
He must be born into that!
These things are not good news to sensible sinners, for they do not put away, or remit sin. They cannot deliver from sin, wrath, death, or hell. Good news must be a message of what did do this for acknowledging sinners.
Paul wrote: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another Gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ,” and then he adds, “let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-9).
Or, as said more clearly:
“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, of if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another Gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.”
(II Corinthians 11:4)
There is a Gospel of Christ which is good news; and a counterfeit message which tells people to do what they need not; there is a Jesus who “has power over all flesh,” and one who does not; there is a Spirit that “quickenth whom He will” and one that cannot. One set of these is valuable to sensible sinners, and only it can satisfy the demands of a broken law for needy sinners.
The other set – the perverted Gospel – is valuable in making church members or man-made “Christians,” and is an economic boon for religious enterprises. But it has no everlasting value.
Simply put, there are people who feelingly know what they are by nature, and have a vital need for the Gospel of free and sovereign grace. There are other people who imagine they have at least sufficient goodness to deserve God’s favor, or at least sufficient power to help Him save them selves. These have the perverted Gospel preached to them regularly. But of this latter “Gospel,” Paul corrects himself, saying, “which is not another Gospel.” It certainly is not the one he preached. The one he preached, he said, was “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). It should be noted that Paul did not say it was the power of God to salvation to any one that is an unbeliever. Only to a believer can it be the power of God to salvation.
By Stanley C. Phillips