This Week's Focus Passage

John 21:25 ‘And there are also many other things which Jesus did.’

Wow! Are we already approaching another year? It hardly seems that an entire year has passed since this thought was set before us. What is there that we ought to do, or be doing, as we look back upon the year 2017? Certainly, there are many items in our memory of past events. Some were more exciting than others, and some were not exciting at all. Some were somber events; some were delightful events, often neither of these having been anticipated, nor expected. What a blessing it is to know, by the grace of God given us, that none of these things were accidents. They, each and every one of them, took place at His direction and determination whether we enjoyed them or not. Do we, or do we not, believe the words of the apostle when he wrote, And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.—Romans 8:28 (ASV-1901)? This, of course, does not mean that we are necessarily pleased with all things as they happen. This does not mean that we asked for, or wanted, all these things. But it does mean that our God is sovereign. It means that, because He loves us, He makes everything work for our good. We are reminded that this promise ratheis given to those that love Him in return. We know that these spoken of are among those having been called according to His purpose. This is what Paul has said under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. The Word appropriated through the gift of faith reminds us equally of the fact that those having been called are also those that love Him because He first loved us. He loved us before we ever knew Him. He has loved us with an everlasting love. This is subscribed to by the prophet, Jeremiah:

Jehovah hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.—vs. 31:3.

This expression of God’s determinate love for His own is, not surprisingly, found in the very same chapter in which the New Covenant is announced, with all of its marvelous and astounding blessings declared with respect to His gracious, loving designs for those given to His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in 31:31ff.

Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Jehovah. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God and they shall be my people.

This is so altogether, and unmistakenly, a monergistic activity of God Himself. We would remind our readers that ‘monergistic’ refers to the doctrine that the Holy Ghost acts independently of the human will in the work of regeneration. Frankly, how could it possibly be otherwise? Nicodemus famously inquired, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Nicodemus insinuated into the dialogue with Jesus the matter of physical birth. Perhaps he reflected later on of the foolishness of that question. Does any single person among mankind imagine that anyone can bring about their own physical birth? Certainly not, and how much greater is the act of Spiritual birth; regeneration, the new birth? Paul, having written to his young protégé, in his first epistle to Timothy, speaks in verse 6:19 in terms of a life, and a new life, that they may lay hold on the life which is life indeed.

The new birth is the promise of the new covenant spoken of in Jeremiah 31. This regeneration is promised by our sovereign God and can only take place through the activity of God, the Holy Spirit. Rather than demur at this reality, it should cause great joy and thanksgiving as we reflect on the truth that what God has promised, He is well able to perform. Consider, where would any of us be if we were required to regenerate our own hearts? Now, we are aware of a conspicuous error in the teaching of many synergists—someone thinking that God needs our help in order to be saved—that it is indeed a joint effort on the part of God and on the part of man. These ‘teachers’ often set forth an illustration for this doctrine that “God has done all He can; the rest is up to you,” that pictures a bridge, perhaps having in mind the reference in Ezekiel to someone to stand in the gap; the prophet, or God through the prophet put it this way:

And I sought for a man among them, that should build up the wall, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none.

This bridge that they picture is laid across a gap; its construction is almost complete. They suggest that Christ is that man; that He stands in the gap created by our sin; that He has closed up this broad gap, at least, almost closed it up. There remains one single inch to truly complete its span across this gap. This is the inch that man must make up. Man must decide to take that final step across the gap in order that it be completed. God has done all that He can. He gave His only-begotten Son to lay down His life in order to make it possible for men to be saved. It is necessary for a man to take that final step. He must contribute something to his own salvation. This is that synergism spoken of above. Is this not a salvation according to works? And is this works salvation not denounced by Paul and others in the Scriptures? There has been a ‘salvation tract’ available for many years now that, like the majority of such tracts, calls upon the reader to ‘ask Jesus to come into your heart,’ or, ‘make a decision for Christ,’ say this prayer, and then, you will be born again. This is heretical. Don’t start your new year off with a lie.


David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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