Man the Sovereign and God the Beggar
By Dr. Ken Matto
(2 Cor 5:20 KJV) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
The most prevalent teaching in the extreme majority of churches today is that it is possible for one to “accept Christ” as their savior at any time. They believe that God is begging you to accept His Son and that you are the Sovereign determining the final decision as to whether to accept or not.
This is based on the belief that man has free will giving him or her the ability to understand the Gospel and to accept Christ. This stems from the belief that Christ died for every sinner in the world and not just for a certain number. It is normally based upon the complete misunderstanding of verses like 1 John 2:2.
(1 John 2:2 KJV) And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Propitiation - Expiation or sin offering
It is a sad thing that this verse is very misused by those who advocate free will. If you will notice in the beginning of this verse it talks about the Lord Jesus being the sin offering for the believer. The word “our” is in the genitive or possessive case which means it belongs to us. So what is in view here is that the Lord Jesus Christ was the sin bearer for all the believers. Now the second part of this verse could trip a person up if they do not connect what the rest of the Bible teaches on this. It is a given fact in Scripture that not every person in the world is going to be saved, in fact, there is only going to be a small remnant saved out of all the billions in population.
The second part of this verse is not teaching universal atonement because that is simply not true based upon the Scriptures and what we see in life. We can see unbelievers all around us who die in that state. What this verse is simply teaching, based upon all the collateral biblical evidence, is that the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ was not only sufficient for the believers in John’s time, but that sufficiency will extend to the end of time to all the Elect all around the world. It in no way implies universal atonement, in that Christ paid for the sins of every person in the world and all they have to do is “accept Christ” and the atonement will be applied. This is taught nowhere in Scripture because saying a few words does not apply the forgiveness of God.
God Himself is the one who chooses who He is going to save and applies the sacrifice of Christ to that person and then indwells them with the Holy Spirit. Man has no part whatsoever except to receive it. If Christ paid for every sin of every human being on earth, then what will the unbeliever be cast into hell for at the Great White Throne Judgment? It is for their sins because they had no savior for their sins. Many state that Christ was the final sacrifice for sins but that is not true. He was the first sacrifice for sins and He died to pay for the sins of all the Elect. All the animal sacrifices done under the Mosaic Law were only foreshadows and could not take away sins. (Heb 10:4 KJV) For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Christ was the only one was able to take away sins by His sacrifice on Calvary. The unbeliever who dies will stand at the Great White Throne Judgment on the last day and without Christ as their Savior, will now be forced to pay for their sins eternally in hell. In essence, they are their own sacrifice for sins and this sacrifice never ends as it is eternal. This would make the unbeliever the final sacrifice for sin but only for their own sin and not the sins of another. The sacrifice of Christ removed the sins from the Elect and gave them eternal life. The sacrifice of the unbeliever gives them eternal damnation and no separation from their sin.
I want to look at some teachings of the free will movement concerning salvation which have absolutely no basis in Scripture. It is born out of the minds of men who wish to make themselves sovereign and make God the beggar. As we look at some very plain scriptures, we will see that free will, in reference to salvation is a total fallacy and needs to be abandoned so a better understanding of Scripture will follow.
Spiritual Condition Before Salvation
(Eph 2:1 KJV) And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:
(Eph 2:5 KJV) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
It is very important to know our pre-salvation condition. The Bible is very clear that before salvation, a person is spiritually dead. The word “dead” in both verses carries with it the meaning of “lifeless.” This means that our spirit and soul were dead yet we are still physically alive. This means that this verse is stating that a person can be physically alive while being spiritually dead. This is very important to understand.
This is why we are able to buy the car we want, wear the clothes we want, or are able to drive from one place to another. We have physical life and are able to make decisions which pertain to the physical. Many free willers make the erroneous comparison that because they can do certain things in the flesh, they can accept Christ. As we see above, the spirit of unsaved man is dead and salvation does not take place in the physical body but takes place in the spirit. If the spirit is dead, then it has absolutely no way of knowing it is dead and no way of regeneration on its own. Like Lazarus, if spiritual regeneration is to come to a person, then it must be initiated by an outside source which of course is God. So unsaved man being dead, must be regenerated from the outside in, not from the inside out. This is shown in the following verses:
(John 1:12-13 KJV) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: {13} Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
How many times have we heard John 1:12 given as proof that we can accept Christ and if we do, we then become sons of God. Let us briefly look at that verse. First of all it speaks about “receiving him.” It does not state that you can accept Him, but it states that “you receive.” That word for “receive” in the Greek means just that. First, a person receives Christ, which means a person is passive in their salvation and all they do is receive it. Then the verse goes on to say that “He” gave power to become the sons of God. First a person receives the Lord and then they have power to become the sons of God, and then there is ability to believe, once they are saved and I will cover faith in the next section. Now connect this plain understanding to verse 13 where we read that a person is not born of the will of the flesh (because remember salvation does not take place in the flesh) nor of the will of man which is still only pertains to the physical before salvation, but they are born again by the Will of God. How much clearer can God make it that being born again is totally separate from the physical and not according to man’s will, which is flesh driven before salvation, but by God’s Will. Here we plainly see that man does not initiate salvation, God does and He does it according to His will.
You Must Exercise Saving Faith
How many times have you heard some free will preacher make a plea for salvation and telling you that you must exercise faith in Christ to accept Him as savior? I am sure we all have heard it many times and will hear it many times more. There is a major problem with this theory because as we saw previously that before salvation a person is spiritually dead. A verse which completely rejects this theory is found in Galatians 5:22.
(Gal 5:22 KJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Basically, we need to ask the question. Where does faith come from? Galatians 5:22 answers that plainly. Faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and therefore is not given until a person becomes saved. Remember John 1:12? (John 1:12 KJV) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: One can become a child of God, only if they believe on His name. Now the words “faith” and “believing” are related in the Greek. Faith is the noun and believing is the verb. For one to believe in Christ, they must have faith to believe. Belief is built on faith because faith is the foundation of belief. However, one does not receive faith until one has already become saved allowing them to believe on Christ. So the free willer has another dilemma in that faith is given after salvation as we saw in Galatians 5:22. (Rom 8:9 KJV) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. What is Romans 8:9 reminding us of? The main thesis is that if a person does not have the Holy Spirit, they are not of Christ, which means they are still unsaved and in the kingdom of Satan. If a person is still unsaved, they cannot exercise “saving faith” simply because they do not have any faith at all. The only way they can have faith, is if the Holy Spirit indwells them and that means they are saved. So the order is simple. Salvation first - Faith second - Believing third. Once again we see that a dead man does not initiate salvation, God does.
Lamb’s Book of Life
The morning of the day I am writing this (4/1/11) I was listening to Dr. Charles Stanley and I want to make it known that I do like him and I have learned much from him in the 30 years I have been saved. This morning he stated something from a free will point of view which also has no biblical basis. He stated that if you accept Christ then your name will be entered in the Lamb’s Book of Life. He is not the only one who teaches this as all free will proponents teach it. They believe that once you accept Christ, your name is then written in the Lamb’s Book of Life at the moment you accept. The following two verses refute that teaching.
(Rev 13:8 KJV) And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
(Rev 17:8 KJV) The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
Notice what it says in these two verses concerning the Lamb’s Book of Life. It states plainly that the names of all those whom God plans to save were written in it before the foundation of the world. This means that before the world was created, God already had chosen out a people to save and named them in the Lamb’s Book of Life. To those who believe in free will, where were you when the Lamb‘s Book of Life was written? You were not yet created which means you could not accept anything. The Lamb‘s Book of Life was completed before Adam and Eve and is not an ongoing journal.
You Must Repent of Your Sins
Probably we have all heard this ones especially if we have listened to Billy Graham. When he made the alter call, he stated that the first thing a person must do is repent of their sins. Keep in mind what we have learned so far that man is spiritually dead. Repentance is one of those things which falls under spiritual renewal. Just think for a moment, a person is out there sinning for 20, 30, 40 years and all of a sudden he is going to repent of his sins. He may get caught up in the moment and say that he will repent but can he? The answer is absolutely no! No one in an unsaved state can ever repent of their sins because they have no strength to do it. There is such a thing as carnal repentance where someone commits an act and hurts someone and then repents of it and will never do it again. Or someone may go to an Alcoholic Rehabilitation Center to try and give up drinking. This is not the kind of repentance which is associated with salvation. Why? The Alcoholic may come out of the Center without a desire to drink, but he will still have a desire to commit other sins because he is still dead in sins. So true repentance does not take place.
(2 Cor 7:10 KJV) For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
In 2 Corinthians 7:10, we read about two contrasting views of repentance. We will look at the second one first. The second type of repentance is the worldly type which basically is described as “whoops I got caught.” Worldly repentance may bring a few tears but it is not a genuine repentance which leads to salvation because this type of repentance is man-centered. We see this all the time as someone commits a crime and then goes to court and cries, in hopes the judge will be lenient with them. So their repentance is not to salvation but is for their own selfish benefit. This is why it leads to death because it remains man-centered and for manipulation. The first type of repentance is the godly repentance that pertains to salvation, then he states that it is not to be repented of. This means that when a person is truly saved, they can never go back to being unsaved. The word “repentance” in the Greek carries with it the idea of a “change of mind.” The true believer goes from a state of totally carnal thinking and is given a change of mind by means of salvation. (1 Cor 2:16 KJV) For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. The true believer has the mind of Christ which means they have a renewed mind from spiritual death. (Rom 12:2 KJV) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Now the question remains, can an unsaved man repent of his sins? The answer is two-fold and given to us in the following verse. (2 Tim 2:25 KJV) In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 2 Timothy 2:25 teaches us that it is God who gives repentance. So the answer to our question is that a person can repent of their sins only if God grants it and the second answer is that a person cannot repent of their sins on their own. Repentance like faith is given to the believer at the moment of salvation because it is at that time we receive the mind of Christ. The unbeliever still has a mind which goes along with the world system and it is only when we become saved, is when we start seeing what we are doing is sin, because we have the change of mind and now see things differently.
There is one word which the free willer likes to throw around and that is “whosoever.” This is where I wish they would take a few moments and investigate the word as used in the Scriptures. It is the Greek word “pas” which is used many times in the New Testament but we will look at one verse which is a representative verse using “whosoever.”
(John 3:16 KJV) 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.
John 3:16 has been used and misused probably more than any other verse in the Bible. This verse is used as a capstone for those who tout free will but the word “whosoever” does not mean that anyone at any time according to their will can become saved. That word “whosever” carries with it the meaning of “everyone or all.” It means those whom God has qualified to hear the Gospel and saves them by giving them faith to believe in Jesus and this happens to everyone who God saves. Man is spiritually dead and needs to be raised from the dead and that can only happen when God makes the first move, and that is salvation. We receive salvation before we can believe. (Gal 5:22 KJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, As we previously saw, a fruit of the Holy Spirit is faith and only those who are saved will receive the Holy Spirit. When we are saved, we are given faith, and then we have the ability to believe. So verse 16 is a declaration that those who are the Elect of God will never perish but have everlasting life. It is not an offer of the Gospel because there is no such thing in Scripture. God applies salvation to the Elect. I know because I did not ask for salvation before I was saved. I was the Elect of God and therefore He applied grace to my life and I became saved.
(Rev 21:6 KJV) And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
(Rev 22:17 KJV) And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Here we have two verses which are very close in meaning as they both speak of the water of life freely. In 22:17, we read “whosoever will” take the water of life freely. Remember now the spiritual condition of man before salvation, they are spiritually dead and incapable of making a spiritual decision. When we walked in darkness, we did not believe we needed a Savior especially if we thought we were good. We were not thirsty for the true Gospel, in fact, being dead in sins we were at war with God because we were members of the kingdom of Satan. It was only when our spiritual eyes were opened is when we thirsted for the water of life. The water of life is the Gospel which when applied to a person, brings eternal life in Christ. Another key in Rev. 22:17, is the word “heareth” which does not only mean physically hearing, but it means hearing with understanding. (Luke 24:32 KJV) And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? Only those who are saved are capable of hearing with understanding. Just as Jesus opened the spiritual ears of the disciples on the Road to Emmaus in Luke 24, He opens the ears of the “whosoever” He saves to allow them to understand the Gospel.
Sinner’s Prayer
Many who believe in free will state that saying a sinner’s prayer somehow initiates salvation. That is not true because that would mean salvation by works and it is only by grace. The ones who are truly saved may say a sinner’s prayer at the moment of salvation but that is in response to salvation and not for salvation. Remember we have openly read that a person is spiritually dead and incapable of initiating salvation. Many who say those prayers remain unsaved and it is deceitful for some preacher to claim that if someone says a sinner’s prayer, that means they are saved. Prayer is a result of salvation whereby we communicate with our heavenly Father. (Isa 59:2 KJV) But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. Just as God did not hear the prayers of the sinning nation of Judah, He does not hear the prayer of any He has not saved. (John 4:24 KJV) God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. Samaria was surrounded by many pagan nations for many years and those pagan nations all had some type of physical representations of their false god, of course, which were all idols. Some were Dagon, Milcom, and Baal. The true God is a spirit and those that worship Him, must do it according to Spirit. This means that a spiritually dead person, the unsaved, cannot truly worship God nor can they have a true prayer life, because they are dead. Those who are born again are indwelled by the Holy Spirit who makes us alive unto God and teaches us the truth about God and as we come into more and more truth about God from the Scriptures, we continually worship Him as our understanding of God grows.
(John 6:44 KJV) No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. The word “draw” in John 6:44 carries with it the meaning of “drag or force.” The fact is clear that the sinner, which the Christian used to be, is spiritually dead and loves their sin. (John 3:19 KJV) And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. Since man is dead in sins, there is no way that they can come to Christ, and this verse shows us that no man is able or has the power to come to Christ of their own volition. The way that a person comes to Christ is that the Father must draw or literally drag them. Since they are in a state of spiritual death, all they know is sin and this world. God has to take them and resurrect their souls, grant them spiritual ears and eyes, place the Holy Spirit in them, thus giving them salvation. God then takes them and transfers them from the kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of God. (Col 1:12-13 KJV) Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: {13} Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: Colossians 1:12-13 speaks about God the Father qualifying us to be partakers of the inheritance of the Saints and then translating us from darkness to the Kingdom of God. So this verse completely squelches the false notion of free will because we see that it is the Father who does the work of salvation in the life of the believer. Those who claim that they can save themselves by their own will are basically stating that they have as much strength and authority as the Father. Think about it.
I have heard free will preachers claim to their congregations that “it is your choice.” Based upon what we have looked at in this short study, there is no way that it is our choice. This means that Christ died indiscriminately and that is not what the Bible teaches. He died for the Elect which was named before the foundation of the world. This idea that Christ died for everybody in the world is foreign to the Scriptures. What we have also found out is that neither God nor man is the beggar in salvation. God does not beg because He applies salvation to those He named before the foundation of the world. The unbeliever who is predestined to be a believer does not come of his own volition but needs to be forced or dragged, revealing how deep in sin we really are. Free will in salvation does not exist. God named before the foundation of the world those He was going to save and the reason that we go into all the world with the Gospel is because we do not know who the Elect of God are because He calls them “whosoever” and does not name them. If you believe in free will, you do not have any biblical basis for that view. It is held in pride and arrogance, not truth. The Bible nowhere states that man has a choice in salvation. God is not begging and you are not sovereign as to whether you are going to accept Him. The fact is that he accepts us! Jonah had it right >>(Jonah 2:9 KJV) But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.