It is very important we understand that which is most important concerning the salvation of a sinner. We can make mistakes on any other subject in the word of God, but to be mistaken on this all important subject is to lead men astray, and to cause the shipwreck of many souls. The doctrine of salvation is the most important subject of all, and it is very important we grasp the most important thing concerning the salvation of a sinner’s soul.
(1.) The most important thing is not you accepting Jesus, but Jesus accepting you.
“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:6). We are not saved because we accept Jesus; we are saved because Jesus accepts us. Your accepting Jesus will not save you. What will save you is Jesus accepting you. Much is said and written today on the sinner accepting Jesus as his Saviour as though man can impose himself on God, but very little or nothing is said about Christ the Lord accepting us, which of course, is the most important thing for our salvation.
“And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons” (1 Sam 16:1).
Samuel pleaded long with God over Saul, but God said he has rejected Saul and chosen David. Very little is said of God rejecting men today. The popular idea now is that God is hungry to save every one, that he is just out there desiring to save every man, but is restricted by the self-will and free-will. This in itself is blasphemy. It portrays a god whose will and desires are conditioned, restricted and frustrated by the will of the creature. The will of God is pushed into the background by so-called Evangelists, and the will of the sinner is magnified as the determining factor of salvation. But the question needs to be asked again, Are we saved because we accepted Jesus, or because Jesus accepted us?
2. The most important thing is not knowing Jesus, but Jesus knowing you.
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:22-23). These people knew Jesus, they performed and did many exploits in his name. They didn’t use the name of devils to perform those miracles but the name of Christ. But they perished notwithstanding, because the most important thing is not a person knowing Jesus, but Jesus knowing the person. A man’s knowledge of Jesus will not save him, but Jesus’ knowledge of a man is what will save that man. To many who think they know Jesus, he will yet say “Verily I say unto you, I know you not” (Matt. 25:12). You may read much about Jesus, and hear much about him, but if he doesn’t know you, you are lost. The Lord knows his people, as it is written, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his” (2 Tim. 2:19). The Lord Christ will not lose any of those who he knows. Christ the Lord knows his sheep, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:27-30); he will not lose anyone of his sheep, and he will not save a single one that is not his sheep. Not all men are his sheep, “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you” (John 10:26); therefore, not all men will be saved, not all will believe the true gospel.
3. The most important thing is not the sinner’s love for God, but God’s love for the sinner.
“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). The sinner’s love for God cannot save him from hell. What will save the sinner from hell is God’s love for the sinner. God does not love everybody as some think. He hated Esau even before he was born (Rom. 9:11-13, Mal. 1:2-3); he hated Pharaoh (Rom. 9:17; Exo. 9:16). All who God loves will be saved, and all who God hates will perish. You may love God much, but if he doesn’t love you, you are lost. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1John. 4:19). God’s love is the first cause of our salvation. If he never loved us we would have been miserable.
How helpless and hopeless we sinners had been,
If he never had loved us till cleansed from our sins.
Unto him who hath loved us and washed us from sin,
Unto him be the glory forever. Amen.
4. The most important thing is not, Are you willing to be saved? But, Is God willing to have mercy upon you?
“For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:15-16).
5. The most important thing is not you choosing God, but God choosing you.
“Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts” (Psa. 65:4). A man may choose God a thousand times, but if God has not chosen the man, there is no hope for the man. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). It is not our choice of God that determines our eternal destiny, but God’s choice of us, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4); “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation” (2Th 2:13).” It is God’s choice alone that saves, and this choice the Lord made before the foundations of the world. Also see Deu7:6,7; Psa. 135:4; Isa. 41:8,9; James 2:5; 1 Pet. 2:9.
6. The most important thing is not your righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ.
Paul’s earnest desire was, “That I may be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but the righteousness of God by faith” (Phi. 3:9). A man’s personal righteousness cannot help him in the judgement when he shall stand before God because man is not righteous. His righteousness and good works are as a filthy garments before God (Deut. 27:26; Isa. 64:5; Job 9:30-31; 10:14,15; 15:14-16; Psa. 19:12; 130:3; 143:2; Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:19,20; 9:31,32; Jam. 3:2; 1 John 1:8,10;), “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecc. 7:20). Those who trust to appear before God in their own righteousness are lost. A man’s personal righteousness will avail him nothing when he stands before the thrice Holy God. What saves a man is the righteousness of Christ imputed to him (Rom. 4:4-8). It is easy for a man to repent of every other sin but the sin of self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is trusting in one’s personal righteousness as the ground of salvation. O may the Lord bring us to the point where we can say like Paul, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18); and may he cause us to disdain our fleshly works, disdain our self-righteousness and trust in his own righteousness alone imputed to our accounts.
7. The most important thing is not your faith in Christ, but Christ’s faith for you.
It is not the sinner’s believing in Christ, but Christ’s believing for the sinner. Christ exercised faith on behalf of his people. “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal 2:16). See also Phil. 3:9.
In the Bible, many believed in Christ, but they were lost, notwithstanding; their faith couldn’t help them, “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men” (John 2:23-24); “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). Faith does not save, though we cannot be saved without faith. The only thing that saves is what Christ did on the cross. The only faith that God accepts is the faith that receives what Jesus finished, the faith that repudiates all self-righteousness and good works to receive Christ’s righteousness and his good work on the cross. Any other faith than this is an abomination to God. The faith that tries to add to the finished work of Christ is hellish and devilish. The faith that tries to fulfil a condition goes about seeking to establish its own righteousness: it is a wicked faith and an abomination to God. The faith that pleases God is the faith that Jesus Christ will not lose a single soul for whom he died; it is faith that the atonement was no failure; it is the faith that the blood of Christ secured the salvation of all for whom it was shed. Will Christ lose any of those for whom he died? Let your faith answer.
8. The most important thing is not the sinner but the Saviour that saves the sinner.
Who is more important, the patient or the doctor that cures the patient? Men exalt the sinner as the most important, but we exalt the Saviour as the most important. They exalt sin, we exalt the blood of Christ. They exalt the work of the sinner and the decision of the sinner, we exalt the work of the Saviour and the decision of the Saviour which effectually saves sinners.
Without the Saviour, the sinner will perish! Without the decision of the Saviour to save, the decision of the sinner avails nothing. Without the Saviour’s shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin (Hebrew 9:22). the most important thing is not the sinner repenting of his sins, but God accepting his repentance. Many more will be like Esau, who would repent in tears and seek salvation, but there will be no room nor acceptance for their repentance (Heb.12:16,17)!
Rather than the blasphemous practise of telling men to “make a decision for Jesus or fill a form to be born again or to accept Jesus into their heart”, we should rather tell them it is God accepting them that matters, therefore they should plead with God for his mercy if haply, he might have mercy on them.
9. The most important thing is not God’s need of man, but man’s need of God,
for “Without him we can do nothing” (John 15:4,5). If you listen to the gospels that modern gospellers preach, you will will be amazed at how the make God a desperate needy. According to them, God is so madly in need of man that he cannot do without him. But the truth is that it is not God that needs man, but man that desperately needs God. Without man God is God, but without God man is not man but a non-existent thing.
10. The most important thing is not believing in the name of Christ, but in the doctrine of Christ.
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). True we must believe in his name, for it is written, “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” (John 1:12), but in a generation where the name of the Lord has been employed by all religious cults and churches of Satan, it is needful to identify which is most important. How do we know one that truly has Christ? The apostle answers, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son”. The name of Christ is not the test, but the doctrine of Christ! If one rejects the doctrine of Christ, he has not Christ, though he may have the name of Christ on his lips. The Apostle goes further to illustrate the degree to which we must insist on the doctrine of Christ, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 10,11).
Alas! How many there are who profess to believe in the name of Christ but still hold to the doctrines of devils (1Tim. 4:1; 2Tim. 4:3-4)! How many who profess to be saved by grace yet deny the gospel of grace (Act. 20:24)! They profess to be resting on the finished work of Christ, yet they believe there are some for whom that work was finished who nevertheless shall perish! They profess they are not saved by their works but by grace, yet they deny that it is the work of Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation! These are not Christians, they are heathens; devils, and unregenerate souls who hate the cross of Christ. The Lord Jesus insisted on the doctrine he taught because it was given him by his Father, “Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 17:16,17); the early church “Continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Act 2:42). Paul charged Titus to teach his congregation to “Adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour” (Tit.2:10); “Let the word (like is, the doctrine) of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Col 3:16). We are commanded by the Apostle, “Let that (doctrine) therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father” (1John 2:24). And our Lord Jesus said, “If a man abide not in me (in my doctrine), he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6).
The doctrine of Christ is the test! The Popes of Rome believe in the name of Christ but reject his doctrine; the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Sabbatharians, Seventh day adventists, Jesuits, Pentecostals, Charismatics, and many others believe in the name of Christ but reject his doctrine. No wonder the divine verdict is, “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2John 10-11).
How do I prove you truly believe in Christ? By his doctrine!
How do I prove you are not an enemy of the cross of Christ? By asking if the cross secured eternal salvation for all whom Christ died? How can I know you are of the sheep of Christ and not a wolf? By asking you if any of our Lord’s sheep can perish! How may I know you have eternal life? By asking if that Life was giving you freely and unconditionally! How can I prove you have been washed in the blood of Christ? By asking you if that blood was a failure!
The most important question is not, do you believe in the name of Christ? But, do you believe in the doctrine of Christ?
The Lord warned us that many shall come in his name and will deceive many (Matt.24:5; Mark 13:6; Luke 21:8). We do not know one as a Christian because he names the name of Christ, but because he has the doctrine of Christ. Even the Apostle Paul told the saints at Rome to judge by the doctrine of Christ, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17,18). It becomes the more important for us to judge by the doctrine of Christ, knowing that we are in the perilous times of the last days when men shall no longer endure sound doctrine (2Tim. 4:3-4).
Many will say I am exalting the doctrine of Christ above the name of Christ, and truly, it is what I am doing, for it is written, “Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psa.138:2)!
Reader, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20).