Friday, June 27, 2008

...salvation is the soul work of God

declaring the good news of the gospel of graceby Ichabod Spencer
"What must I do to be saved?" Acts 16:30

This is the anxious inquiry of an awakened sinner
By an awakened sinner, I mean the man who knows what sin is, and who painfully feels that he is a sinner; and as such, under the curse of God, and in danger of hell fire. Are you an awakened sinner? Alas! all men are naturally asleep, insensible of their danger; and so they continue till they are roused up out of their carnal slumbers by the Word and Spirit of God. They cry peace, peace to themselves, when there is no peace; for God hath said, "There is no peace to the wicked" (Isa. 48:22). They live on, day after day, keeping death, judgment, and eternity, out of their thoughts; never reading the Bible with a sincere desire to know what their state is, and never praying to God from the bottom of their hearts, "God be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13). If you can live without earnest prayer to God for mercy, habitually neglecting it, you give as full proof that you are alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in you, as if you were living in the grossest immoralities.

Conviction of sin is the sovereign work of God
But when it pleases God to fasten conviction on the heart of a man, and to awaken his conscience, then he starts up as one out of sleep. He sees, what he never discovered before, that it is an evil and bitter thing to sin against God. He reads in the word of truth, that the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God (Psalm 9:17); and he trembles as he reads. He acknowledges, "I have forgotten God and sinned against Him;" and being convinced that the wages of sin is death, he asks, "how shall I escape the damnation of hell?" Such a man is deeply in earnest when he makes the inquiry, "What must I do to be saved?" He feels that his all for eternity is at stake. The world with all its pleasures, profits, and honors, becomes tasteless and insipid; it cannot give ease to his aching heart, nor heal his wounded conscience. He now begins to pray. His prayer is now the real language of his heart, not the formal, unmeaning service it was before. A sense of his danger drives him to the throne of grace. The Word of God he now reads as the decision of eternal truth; and he reads it as having an interest in every line. Sinner, has this inquiry ever been yours, "What must I do to be saved?"


donsands said...

God is the One who quickens the dead unto life. What a merciful God we do have.
These are such fine words to remember.
Seems like the Church is preaching the good news in our generation, without mentioning the bad news.
My Pastor asked my church one Sunday how many people think the good news is good news, without any bad news. Some raised their hands, not many, but for even one to do so is sad.
Thanks for this short and sweet lesson.

Doug E. said...


Praise God that quickened us to heed the things spoken in His Word.

Thanks for posting that,


Joel said...

"What must I do to be saved?"

No disrespect intended, but I thought the Calvinist answer was, "If you have to ask, you can't be."

donsands said...

The Calvinist says, "the only way you will ever ask to be saved is by His grace and mercy".
We love Him, beacuse He first loved us.

Joel said...

Y'know, Don, I really wasn't meaning to be flippant, although the way I phrased it came out that way. But yours is a really clear answer, and one that I have trouble disagreeing with, even being a Romanist. Thanks, you've given me something to think about.

The reason I phrased it as I did is that even though the Protestantism I was raised in wasn't very strongly Calvinist, the idea of doing something to be saved was kind of a red flag for "works-based religion." (If that makes sense.) Serious Calvinism seems to leave even less room for "doing something;" even the act of asking seems contrary to Calvinist principles. It seems to me that (given Reformed assumptions) before you can even ask you must already be saved, even if you don't yet know it.

Mike Ratliff said...

I like your answer too Don.

donsands said...

I didn't take your statement as flippant. Blogging can leave the wrong impression sometimes for sure.

Here's a passage in Holy Scripture you might want to pray over, and see what it means to you.
Matthew 11:25-30
It says no man can know God, and yet our Lord invites all to come.

The call is to all, but only the Father can reveal the Son, and the Son the Father to man, and the Father decides who His mercy will come upon.
Romans 9:15-16 also corrolates with this, as do so many other passages.
It's a wonderful subject to study. God receives all the glory, and we rejoice in that!

tdwunder said...

I am new to post although I have come here everyday for a while. Even though I have been a christian for many years now, last night I had an epiphany of sorts. I realized that I am dust. I am sure you all have already come to this conclusion! But, how wonderful for me to realize it. My salvation is all of God, none of me. May I keep learning from you all and the great articles posted here.

SJ Camp said...

Regeneration precedes faith (1 Cor. 12:3; Titus 3:5-7; John 3:8). Any confession by sinful man unto salvation that Jesus Christ is Lord (Rom. 10:9-10) has been granted by God first.

No man out of his sinful state can come to Christ of his own free will or volition (Rom. 3:10-18). Therefore, it is God drawing the man to Christ (John 6:37, 44; Eph. 1:3-4); Christ having the redeemed the man on the cross (Rom. 5:8-10; Eph. 1:6-12); the Spirit regenerated, sealing and quickening unto life (Eph. 1:13-14) and all this to the praise of the riches of His grace (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14).

Man is the grand recipient of God's grace; even the faith to believe is granted to depraved man (Eph. 2:8-9). Some vessels to honor and some to dishonor; some to mercy and others to wrath (Romans 9).

God will glorified in His mercy and in His wrath. First and foremost, the object of concern is not the state of the vessel, but God's glory alone. The Potter will do with the clay as He pleases according to His will and pleasure (Eph. 1:6-12; Romans 9).

All of us need to boldly and lovingly proclaim the gospel of grace calling all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:20ff); but we must also remember, that the one who waters, the one who plants, etc. is nothing - only God who grows the seed is everything (1 Cor. 3:1-10).

The reason that I love the doctrines of grace is that they crush the pride of man, rob man of all boasting, and bring the fullest and greatest glory to God! Why wouldn't any of us want to proclaim a gospel that brings all glory to God in Christ alone and robs man of any credit or self-aggrandized action in his salvation?

That is why, the Arminian methods and message are frail in comparison to biblical soteriology.

2 Cor. 4:5

tdwunder said...

"The reason that I love the doctrines of grace is that they crush the pride of man, rob man of all boasting,..."

Absolutely. After all, what can a clay pot have to boast about?

Terry Rayburn said...

Salvation is the soul work of God.

Salvation is the sole work of God.

littlegal_66 said...

Excellent companion piece to your previous post, “Resolved to Grace.”


These posts have planted the lyrics of Mark Altrogge’s “Forever Grateful” in my head (probably for the reminder of the day) :-) :

“You did not wait for me
to draw near to You
But You clothed Yourself
with frail humanity
You did not wait for me
to cry out to You
But You let me hear Your Voice
calling me.”

(©1985 People of Destiny Music)

SJ Camp said...

Soul was intentional - a play on words.

SJ Camp said...

Forever Grateful indeed! Thank you for calling to remembrance that song.

Rick said...

I have read Ichabod Spencer's 2 volumes of "A Pastor's Sketches". It is a very unique work and one I would highly recommend, in light of today's evangelical atmosphere. There is much wisdom to be gleaned in it.

The book is simply his stories of dealing with inquiring sinners, but not the way one typically hears today. He would not dare try to comfort anyone who was 'close'-- he would drive the sword in deeper to get them to realize their utter sinfulness before God.

One note of interest that I mention, not to open a can of worms or to be controversial, but the way Spencer worked with sinners was PRACTICALLY identical with the way Finney worked with sinners. I have tried to shed some light on Finney, who I believe has wrongly been called a heretic.

Spencer even has a story about Finney (Mr.F in the book, but it is obvious) and it is very negative. Not saying there are no negatives to Mr. F, but just that (having studied Finney) I was struck by the similarities in the way these two men dealt with individuals.

Thanks for bringing attention to Ichabod Spencer, Steve.

John said...

At the Together for the Gospel this year I heard a hymn for the first time and it has stayed with me since that time. The 2nd and 3rd verses speak to me in terms of my salvation and the reason I came to Him.

How Sweet and Awful Is the Place

1. How sweet and awful is the place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores.

2. While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
"Lord, why was I a guest?"

3. "Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there's room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?"

4. 'Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

5. Pity the nations, O our God,
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

6. We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May, with one voice and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.