Jeffrey C. Nesbitt
The Word of God proclaims that salvation is by
God's grace alone. Most professing Christians today will unreservedly avow
that they too believe that salvation is by “grace alone”. And
that’s a good thing. However, there is reason to believe that the
theology that is embraced by the vast majority of those who affirm
the Reformation doctrine of “Sola
Gratia” is antithetical to the biblical truth; “Salvation
is of the Lord.” (Jonah 2:9). What follows is a graphical representation
of the understanding of the doctrine of salvation held by most Evangelicals
today. It is hoped that this will aid many to think seriously about
what they believe, at least intellectually, and realize that it
does not represent in actuality the truth that “Salvation is of
the Lord God; by His grace alone!”
Let’s summarize the popular Evangelical view illustrated by the diagram above.
So what is wrong with this view?
If the Father loves all mankind; all those who will remain unsaved (represented by “A”) just as much as those who are saved, (represented by “B”) . . .
If the Son died for all mankind; paying the penalty for the sins of those who will never be saved (represented by “A”) and those who will be saved (represented by “B”) . . .
If the Holy Spirit draws all men; giving the necessary influence to come to Christ to those who will be damned (represented by “A”) as well as to those who will be saved (represented by “B”) . . .
This then brings forth the question: If salvation is by grace alone, Why are not all men saved?
Evangelicals will answer: Because of unbelief! Not all men accept Jesus as their Saviour. While we agree, that not all men will repent and believe upon Christ unto their salvation, the question remains unanswered. If it is the grace of God that saves, why are those represented by “A”, those who will not be saved, not saved? We really need to press this question further so as to uncover the fundamental problem with this theology of “grace” as espoused by the modern Evangelical view.
It now becomes painfully clear that the grace of God displayed and given in the love of God, the death of the Son and the drawing of the Holy Spirit, although necessary, is insufficient to save. Therefore, we ask once again, What is it that saves if grace isn't the efficient cause of salvation? The answer is irrefutable. That which actually saves is not grace alone, but what a person does! That which distinguishes those represented by “B” from all those represented by “A” is their “decision for Christ”. And this “decision for Christ” therefore becomes a work. Even if one should argue that this decision is a gift of God, it still remains the efficient cause that apprehends salvation and that which distinguishes one man from another. Truthfully this is God helping man to save himself.
What is the Bible's Answer?
The Scriptures teach something far different than what is popularly believed among most Evangelicals today. What we read is that God has a special, salvific, electing love for those whom He has predestinated to salvation in Christ Jesus. (Matt 25:34; Jh 17:24; Rom 11:5, 6; Eph 1:4-6; 2Thess 2:13, 14; 1Pet 1:2; 2:9). The Lord Christ's death was a vicarious, substitutionary death that actually secures the salvation for those whom it was intended. (Matt 1:21; 20:28; Jh 10:11, 24-29 17:1-11, 20, 24-26; Acts 20:28; Eph 5:25-27; Rom 8:32-34; Heb 9:15). The Holy Spirit's drawing is only given to those who are actually called to faith. At the time of this drawing, the soul is re-created (regenerated), faith is given and the person is infallibly called to rest that faith in Christ. (Ps 110:3; Matt 11:25-27; 13:10, 11, 16; 16:15-17; Mk 4:10-12; Jh 6:37, 44, 45, 64, 65; Acts 11:18; 13:48; 16:14; 18:27; Rom 8:29, 30; Eph 2:1-10; Phil 1:29; 2Tim 2:25, 26).
Is this something new? Is this nothing more than a novel idea that is believed by only a few “odd” individuals? The answer is no! To the contrary, this teaching has been the theology of the church throughout the ages, beginning with the Apostles as the above passages from Scripture show. However, today it is rarely heard from pulpits or taught in the theological seminaries. It has become a very unpopular thing because it takes salvation out of the hands of men and places it where it belongs; in the hands of God. Salvation is of the Lord! We will let the “Prince of Preachers”, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, have the last word on this:
Discuss this article and other topics in our Discussion Board