Question Regarding the Ordo Salutis (the order of salvation)
Visitor: I have a question regarding the order of salvation. I realize that you have to be regenerated before you can believe, so the question I am asking is regeration the same as being born again? If so were does repentance fall into place? Before or after justification, then what about sanctification and so on? I have read some articals on the site and have probably missed it, so I will apreciate you taking the time to write me back.
Response: Thanks for your great question. Jesus Christ is the source of all redemptive blessings, including regeneration, justification, sanctification (1 Cor 1:30). Regeneration is the fountain, and sanctification the river. In other words, when one is united to Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, our hearts of stone are made flesh, our blind eyes now see and our deaf ears now hear. All things, obedience, repentance, faith spring forth from the regenerating work of the Spirit within us. They all happen simultaneously once God breathes new life into us.
I would suspect, however, that if we are to use logic, faith must come before repentance, for how can you repent if you don't know what you are repenting of. Yet these are all so close that it would be difficult to say. The Spirit, in working faith in us also reveals our spiritual bankruptcy and a repentance of all trust in our own self-sufficiency. In order to have genuine faith anyone who believe must recognize that we justly deserve the wrath of God save for Christ's mercy alone. We abandon all confidence in self and repent of all trust in our own works, good and bad. Neither are our savior. Christ alone is suffiicient to save. So ultimately you could say that genuine faith is a repentant faith. Hope this helps
Visitor: I just want to thank you for taking the time to wright to me and explaining the issue it has been very helpful to me.
"We are initially united with Christ in regeneration." [next] "We appropriate and continue to live out of this union through faith."Third, "We are justified in union with Christ."Fourth, "We are sanctified through union with Christ."Fifth, "We persevere in the life of faith in union with Christ."Finally, "We shall be eternally glorified with Christ." - by Anthony Hoekema
Free Downloadable Chinese Reformed Christian Material
In the previous post that announced the grand opening of our Chinese bookstore, a commenter asked if we planned on having any of the books in free downloadable format for Chinese as well. Well, for those of you who do not know, we have had this already available for quite some time. Here is a website we developed quite some time ago that is like Monergism.com in Chinese but on a much smaller scale:
New Chinese Reformed Christian bookstore
New Chinese Reformed Christian bookstore
Monergism is delighted to announce the completion of a major online project developed for the edification of the Chinese Christian community: Sinimbooks.com. We now carry Christian titles that are Chinese, Reformed and Christ-honoring.
Why call it Sinimbooks? ... "Sinim" is a word that comes from the Bible in Isaiah 49:12:
"Behold, these will come from afar;
And lo, these will come from the north and from the west,
And these from the land of Sinim."
In context, this verse speaks of the gathering of true Israel from all parts of the world (43:5,6), even far away places like Sinim, which many scholars say is an ancient name for China. God has particularly placed in our hearts a deep affection for the Chinese people and so we wish to make available the most edifying Christian literature to our Chinese brothers and sisters in Christ; literature we pray will build up the saints and spread the fame of Christ's name far and wide. We currently carry about 50 Christ-exalting Chinese titles in our Monergism Books' warehouse and hope to grow the list over time. Thanks for your continued support. Be sure to tell all you Chinese Christian friends.
Thoughts & Excerpts from Culture Shift by Al Mohler
Dr. Mohlerâ€™s stellar cultural and political commentaries on his daily blog made me curious about his new book on the subject ... a subject, frankly that I am usually skeptical about due to the many Christian books that overemphasize (or underemphasize) the importance of the Christian's cultural or political role, but we gladly recommend Al Mohlerâ€™s new book, which strikes the right balance. In Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth, Dr. Al Mohler crafts air-tight arguments against the intellectual dishonesty and bankruptcy of those who espouse a secularist state void of all religious influence. The book is a beautiful exercise in clear thinking, such that, it should lead Christians to engage and participate in the culture and the political process in meaningful ways. Mohler correctly notes that many Christians have the tendency to â€œswing between two extremes, either ignoring the City of Man or considering it to be our main concern â€¦ Love of neighbor for the sake of loving God is a profound political philosophy that strikes a balance between the disobedience of political disengagement and the idolatry of political as our main priority.â€
In chapter 3 of the book Mohler articulately exposes of the myth of the secular state, a position which I personally consider foundational if we are to actually have the opportunity to engage and persuade. The following are some extensive quotes from this chapter which expresses some very important basic truths that we should all take the time to understand. Mohler begins by explaining three secular myths:
Book Review: The Big Picture Story Bible, by David Helm
Synopsis: The Big Picture Story Bible, written by a gifted story-teller with an uncanny insight into childhood imagination, and illustrated by a talented child-at-heart, is for all its simplicity a rock-solid explanation of the big-picture message of the bible: the gospel story of Jesus Christ, promised and prepared for in the Old Testament, fulfilling all the promises in a spectacular and unexpected fashion in the New Testament, and culminating in unimaginable glory in the very good ending of the apostle John's Revelation. Any parent who wants to bring up his children, not in moralism or fragmented lessons, but in the big-picture story of the bible, would do well to invest in this compellingly-wrought re-telling of the greatest news ever heard.
Does 2 Peter 2:1 Deny Particular Redemption?
2 Peter 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
When someone tells me that they are a 4 point Calvinist, it is almost always the case that their struggle is with the "L" in the famous TULIP acrostic, namely so called "Limited Atonement." "Definite Atonement" or "Particular Redemption" might be better terms to use (though they destroy the acrostic TULIP into "TUDIP" or even worse, "TUPIP" - hardly good memory devices).
Concerning the letters of Paul, the Apostle Peter was right when he related that some things are "hard to understand" (2 Peter 3:16). Sometimes it takes a good deal of prayer, hard work and study to determine what the Bible is teaching on certain matters. For my part, I have not always been a 5 point Calvinist and have great sympathy for those who struggle with these very vital "doctrines of grace." I tend to think however that many do not struggle with them nearly enough.
Our traditions can be so strong that we are often blind to them in our own thinking. We all have our blind spots. Part of my own intellectual struggle with the doctrine of Limited Atonement stemmed from a faulty understanding of certain biblical texts. One of them was 1 John 2:2, another being 2 Peter 2:1. For many years, I thought that these verses were irrefutable texts that rejected the idea that Christ died to infallibly secure the salvation of a certain group (His people, His sheep, His friends, His elect - Particular Redemption) and were proof that Christ died for all people, at all times, in every part of the world (Universal Redemption). I wrote an article some time back called "The Divine Intention of the Cross" found here, in which I made a case for Particular Redemption from scripture.
Two Lectures on Monergistic Regeneration (MP3s)
Last week we held our Reformation Society of Oregon meeting and Dr. Art Azurdia III gave two expositions/lectures on the subject monergistic regeneration. We have posted the MP3s for free download. IMHO, they are superb biblical exegesis and I highly recommend them for your personal edification.
Right-Click and save to your hard drive
Monergistic Regeneration - Part I by Dr. Art Azurdia III
Monergistic Regeneration - Part II by Dr. Art Azurdia III
Dr. James White's web site
Dr. James White's web site has just been given a face-lift of sorts. It amounts to a major upgrade for a site that is well known for its defense of the biblical Gospel, found here.
The Hidden Treasure (2 -- Setting Out for the Field)
When a man desires to build a tower, he must first sit down and calculate what he should require to bring the project through to completion, and determine if he is both able and willing to spend so much. How foolish would they consider that man who, having concluding that he had just enough to build, and no more, laid the foundation and then consumed the rest of his stores on riotous living, and was never able to complete what he had begun! But are not very many professors of religion so foolish even today? They want the consolation of the gospel, and would fain be disciples of Christ, and so they set out to follow him, but scarcely give him one day a week, while spending the rest of their passions on worldly and ephemeral amusements. They have not counted the cost, nor considered that, if one would be accounted Christâ€™s at all, he must belong to him wholly. He must forsake father and mother and goods and kindred, yes, and even his own life, and press hard behind him to the ends of the earth. But those who make a show of seeking him, when they have not counted the cost, will find out in the judgment that they do not have him at all. Oh, how bitter will be those words, â€œI never knew you; depart from me, you who work iniquityâ€!
If One Confesses the Apostles' Creed, is this Authentic Faith?
Question from Visitor: Would it be accurate to say that if you believe in the Apostles' Creed, in its entirety, you have authentic faith?
Response: Important Question. The answer is yes, but other similarly important truths must be similtaneously understood and embraced ... truths the framers of the creed would have, no doubt, considered to be a given. That is, the content of the Apostles Creed is sufficient if such a confession springs from a heart that is renewed by the Holy Spirit. What do I mean by this and how can we know if this is the case? Well, consider that many people confess this creed, including no small number of persons whose hearts have not been graciously transformed by the power of the Spirit to trust and love Jesus Christ. The content of the Apostles Creed is certainly a great start since we must unhesitatingly affirm all of those truths if we are to be Christians, but consider there are some things that the creed does not mention but that are necessary for salvation -- There must be a Spirit-wrought change in the heart as a person encounters the Word of God, such that their self-complacency shattered and their self-righteousness renounced. The Holy Spirit must also convict that person of their woeful, guilty, and lost condition; that they justly deserve the wrath of God, save in Christ's mercy alone. Likewise, the Spirit must reveal to them and persuade their heart of the goodness, beauty, loveliness and sufficiency of Christ ALONE to meet their desperate case and by a divinely wrought faith will cause them them to lay hold of and rest upon Christ as their only hope. That all other hopes are vanity.
So while we are often tempted to to narrow things down to systems of either/or, but in this case especially, it is not either/or, but both/and. The facts from Scripture must make their way down to the heart and subjectively change us as the Spirit opens our eyes, ears and hearts to it. So the answer is yes, the Apostles Creed is sufficient for salvation if it is believed as originally intended, that is, if the Spirit opens our hearts to believe it correctly. The framers of the Apostles Creed probably would never have ever imagined that later people's could distort such a clearly articulated confession, but they did. For example, those who are Roman Catholics unequvocally confess the entirety of the Apostles Creed and yet, if they embrace the whole of RCC teaching, their faith in the content of the Creed is spurious because they still refuse to trust in Christ alone for salvation. A belief in Purgatory, among other erroneous Christ-dishonoring doctrines, negates the sufficiency of Christ's finished work and a trust in self to do part of the work of redemption. The framers of the Creed probably assumed that anyone so confessing the Lordship of Jesus Christ would cast off all trust in self-righteousness, but human nature, as it always does, has a tendency to slip in in its attempt to usurp God's authority.
For this reason later creeds were also developed to clarify. For Example, shortly after Augustine, the Council of Orange said of our faith: "If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).
As it is, only a regenerate person would confess the Apostles Creed with genuine faith that renounces all self-righteouness and only finds its righteousness in Christ. Such a Spirit generated faith in Christ would save them, but a regenerate person could not simultaneously confess the Creed and then go on believing that Jesus Christ is insufficient, as many erroneous theologies have done.
The Apostles' Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell. [See John Calvin]
The third day He arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic [universal] church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
He who comes to God...
He who comes to God in prayer, comes not in a spirit of self-assertion, but in a spirit of trustful dependence. No one ever addressed God in prayer thus: "O God, thou knowest that I am the architect of my own fortunes and the determiner of my own destiny. Thou mayest indeed do something to help me in the securing of my purposes after I have determined upon them. But my heart is my own, and Thou canst not intrude into it; my will is my own, and Thou canst not bend it. When I wish Thy aid, I will call on Thee for it. Meanwhile, Thou must await my pleasure." Men may reason somewhat like this; but that is not the way they pray. - B. B. Warfield
The Hidden Treasure (1 -- Introduction)
At the beginning of the second chapter of the book of Proverbs, King Solomon, instructed by the Holy Spirit, admonishes those who would be his spiritual children how they might find wisdom, what value it should hold forth to them, to what advantages they may put it, and the means by which they should seek it, under the figure of hidden treasure, or a vein of silver buried in a hillside. It is at once manifest, by this colorful mode of expression, that Solomon intends to paint wisdom as that which one might spend all his time and strength in pursuing, to good effect. For just as hidden gold, being so much valued by men that they are willing to exchange for it all necessary goods, services, amusements, etc., well rewards all efforts spent in procuring it, so wisdom, when one once has it, is profitable to any spiritual end, providing strength and joy, blessing and prosperity, and the manner and means of ordering oneâ€™s life suitably for his eternal good. For this reason, it is not at all amiss for a man to spend his days searching for hidden gold, if he has a reasonable suspicion that he might find it in such a place as he is digging, for he looks ahead to the value which it shall afford him, which should more than make up for his labors expended in procuring it. But if it be so advantageous to seek gross earthly profit assiduously, of how much more industry ought we to avail ourselves in seeking that which offers us the most divine and inextinguishable pleasures of heaven, seeing that we have clearly been directed to the place where we might find it indeed?
Repentance is necessary for MORAL people
Exerpt from Thomas Watson's, The Doctrine of Repentance
These [moral people] have no visible spots on them. They are free from gross sin, and one would think they had nothing to do with the business of repentance. They are so good, that they scorn God's offer of mercy. Indeed these are often in the worst condition: these are they who think they need no repentance (Luke 15:7). Their morality undoes them. They make a "savior" of it, and so on this rock they suffer shipwreck. Morality shoots short of heaven. It is only nature refined. A moral man is but old Adam dressed in fine clothes. The king's image counterfeited and stamped upon brass will not go current. The moral person seems to have the image of Godâ€”but he is only brass metal, which will never pass for current. Morality is insufficient for salvation. Though the life is moralized, the lust may be unmortified. The heart may be full of pride and atheism. Under the fair leaves of a tree, there may be a worm.
I am not saying, repent that you are moralâ€”but that you are no more than moral. Satan entered into the house that had just been swept and garnished (Luke 11:26). This is the emblem of a moral man, who is swept by civility and garnished with common giftsâ€”but is not washed by true repentance. The unclean spirit enters into such a one. If morality were sufficient to salvation, Christ need not have died. The moral man has a fair lampâ€”but it lacks the oil of grace.
Professing Christians Who Unwisely Call God a Monster
Recently there were quite a few responses to the post, What About Those Who Have Never Heard? One response was especially harsh and angry, and called God names but I believe it represents many Chrisitians who have not seriously thought through the ramifications of such a response.
A comment by David, a professed Christian (apparently), who said the following:
"So God Chooses to save some and not save others, which basically means he creates people knowing ahead of time he isn't going to save them but burn them in hell. What a monster"
Thanks for taking the time to post and unveil a common point of ignorance among professed Christians. Perhaps you do not realize it, but you just called God "a monster."
"How?", you ask, 'that's your God, not mine', you would say. Consider, are you thereby asserting that God did not know what would take place before He created the world? That He had no idea who he would save? That God is in fact, totally ignorant of any, and every, aspect of the future, including our salvation? Is there anything God does not know? Does time itself, therefore, have mastery over God? Such is not the God of the Scriptures nor is He any God that can be trusted to save. For if God did not know evil would enter the world before He created it then you have no way of knowing whether He will overcome evil in the future. For, if there is something outside of God like 'chance', or 'evil 'which God has no sovereignty over (the god you seem to propose), then evil would be on equal par with God. Such is a Greek, not a Hebrew or Biblical concept of God. Our comfort can only come from a God who has complete sovereignty over all events (Eph 1:11). There is no comfort in a god that has no idea what the future holds.
Similarly, in all concepts of God, even Arminian and Greek Orthodox ones, He exhaustively and meticulously knows the future. And if He knows the future exhaustively, before He created it, then we both know that the future cannot be otherwise than it was decreed. And He knows, not some, but all things before they take place, unless you believe God is ignorant of some things. Therefore, if you are a Christian, as you seem to claim, then even in your conception of God He knows exhaustively what would happen to each individual even before He created them. Their eternal destiny, therefore, could not be otherwise - from eternity He chooses some in Christ (Eph 1:3-5) according to His sovereign good pleasure. In other words, by your own words, you just called your own God a monster, unless you think God is, in any way, ignorant of the future, which would mean that He is no God at all, but a finite, created being. People who think this way need to be called to repentance, for it is pure ignorance and folly, and one of the highest forms of blasphemy, to call God a 'monster' simply because He exhaustively knows all things before they take place, AND this is exactly what you, (and many like you), have just done and do quite often. So if you acknowledge that God knows the future exhaustively, then I think repentance is in order for you because if you consder these things for a moment, you should recognize that you believe the same thing as I. I trust you have said this without deep consideration and if you ask forgiveness of God He will forgive your careless words because Christ has paid them in full.
If you still doubt, ask yourself, is there anything God is ignorant of? Do not fasten ignorance on God - it does not bode well for a Christian of any stripe. And you must remember, God justly casts persons into hell because of the sin he sees in them, not randomly. And since all have sinned, then some get justice and others mercy, but no one gets injustice.
When God Refuses to Correct
"The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod" or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes" by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.
"The Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son whom He receives." Heb. 12:6
There cannot be a greater evidence of God's hatred and wrath--than His refusing to correct men for their sinful courses and vanities! Where God refuses to correct--there God resolves to destroy! There is no man so near God's axe--so near the flames--so near hell--as he whom God will not so much as spend a rod upon! "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline." Revelation 3:19 God is most angry--when He shows no anger! Who can seriously meditate upon this, and not be silent under God's most smarting rod?
This Breaks My Heart of Stone (CD)
There is clearly a â€œhymns resurgenceâ€ in the church and Red Mountain Church of Birmingham, AL is leading the way. They have been steadily churning out a album after album whose production is better than most any that you will hear. Their newest is titled "This Breaks My Heart of Stone" and is, in our opinion, the strongest production to date.
"The Gadsby Hymnal obsession lives on, and for this record, worked with 9 more songs from â€œGadsbyâ€™s Hymnsâ€. We also branched out a little and spent some time working with William William's texts, which are not found in the Gadsby. We felt like two of his songs fit the collection for this record, and we decided to include them."
"It is important to note that every song on this record was written or co-written by our friend, and fabulous Texan, Benj Pocta. We met Benj the same way everyone meets these days - on the internet, and before long we were sending demos back and forth. Benj traveled to Birmingham several times to write, write some more, and ultimately record this record with us. Itâ€™s been a work in progress and it's been our longest process yet; over a year and a half in the making as we've revised, recorded, and re-recorded. Hopefully you'll agree that these songs have been worth the wait."
Click here to learn more or hear some samples
Book Review: The Beauty of Holiness, by Philip H. Eveson
Synopsis: Although the book of Leviticus contains the foundational set of instructions â€“ civil, ceremonial, and moral â€“ for the entire Old Testament economy, and although it is an absolutely necessary backdrop for understanding the significance of the work of Christ (and hence it is likewise foundational for the entire New Testament economy); yet it remains one of the most obscure and little-understood portions of the entire bible. There is no doubt, therefore, that a great many Christians would profit most wholesomely from having â€œthe book of Leviticus simply explainedâ€. This is just what Philip H. Eveson's proposes to do in his commentary, The Beauty of Holiness; and I am pleased to say, that he has in fact succeeded in doing so quite admirably.
Just so we are clear... by John Samson
Romans 5:8-9 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
The word "saved" is banded about all the time in our culture. We talk about a goalkeeper making a "save," but we do not mean by this that the goalkeeper provided atonement for the other players on his team. What we are refering to, of course, is simply that he "saved" the team from conceding a goal. In the same way, we say that a boxer was "saved" by the bell, but we do not mean that the boxer entered into heavenly bliss through his relationship with the bell. We mean that the bell which signified the end of the round, rang at the time when defeat looked inevitable, right at the moment the opponent was about to knock him out. The bell "saved" the boxer from certain defeat.
The point I am making is that when we use the term "saved," we are referring to the concept of being saved from someone or something - to be rescued from an impending calamity.
So what does the Bible mean when it says that Christ "saves" us. What does He save us from? A low self esteem? A boring life? Financial debt? Physical disease? It may be a surprise to discover that Christ made provision for all of man's needs through His death on the cross. The word "salvation" in both Hebrew and Greek means "wholeness, deliverance, healing, restoration, soundness and protection..." The main aspect of the salvation He provided is to be saved or delivered from the wrath of Almighty God.
It was Jesus who declared that the wrath of God abides on the unbeliever (John 3:36). Christ therefore came into the world to "save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15), and if a person will repent and believe the Gospel, Christ will save them from the Father's wrath. As the Scripture declares, "...Jesus delivers us from the wrath to come" (1 Thess. 1:10), "for God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us..." (1 Thess. 5:9, 10)
The Superiority of the New Covenant Blessings Consists Entirely in the Coming of the Son of God
In his letter to the Hebrews, the author goes to some lengths to describe the superior position, and the many greater blessings and assurances, that God's people enjoy today, which their fathers did not possess to nearly so great a degree; and everywhere throughout the letter, he makes considerable effort to show how that superior position is founded upon the coming of an eminently superior person, and in consequence of the eminently superior office which he has entered into. In the first four verses of his letter, which in the original comprise a single introductory sentence, he accordingly lays out the basic premise which will take the rest of the letter to unfold, viz., that God has never dealt so well with the saints before the coming of Christ as he has with those who lived afterward; and that the coming of Christ itself is the sole factor by which this latter superiority of blessedness has come about. From these verses, we may derive the two following heads of doctrine:
1. That the dispensation and gifts of God to mankind are better in this age than in all ages previous, by as much as that which is perfect is better than that which is desultory and incomplete;
2. That the sole reason for this culminative advance in blessedness is the coming of the eternal Son of God, and his entering into his redemptive office.
Both of these propositions in turn we will now demonstrate by an examination of the text before us.
Reformation Society of Oregon - January 18th Meeting
Special Guest Speaker: Dr. Art Azurdia
January 18, 2008 - At Estacada Christian Church - 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Topic: monergistic regeneration
Doors open at 10:30 am, We will have two lectures with a lunch served from 12:00 to 1:00. Lectures will begin promptly at 11:00 am. The charge for this event is $5 per person (pay at the door). Immediately following our last lecture we will have a short meeting to discuss membership in the Reformation Society of Oregon. Monergism Books will be on site and have a number of titles available for sale as well. Please register no later than January 15, 2008. ALL ARE WELCOME.
Contact: Pastor David Thommen @ 503-630-6707.
Estacada Christian Church is located at: 29101 SE Eagle Creek Road. Estacada, Oregon, 97023.
Westminster Assembly Poster - Special Offer
Congratulations to the three winners of the Westminster Assembly Poster Contest - Rusty Chatelain, Carol Stubbs and Aaron White
Until January 15th we are also giving a special offer on the Westminster Assembly (Poster). $10 off of your whole order when you purchase the poster. Instructions to receive the $10 discount. After you finish placing your whole order in your cart, scroll down on the same shopping cart page and type the word "poster" in the coupon code box. $10 will automatically be removed from your order when you check out. Offer ends January 15th, 2008.
For other Major Discounts including the Amazing Grace DVD for $13.99 (53% off) Click here
Growing in Grace & Conscious of Sin
Due to a rising sense of sin, many genuine Christians, as they grow in grace, may occasionally have doubts arise as to the assurance of their conversion. We can feel that grace is declining when our awareness of inner corruption is growing. Our pride, our lusts and other corruptions swell up in our breasts and so we wonder if our conversion is real, or at least wonder where God is in all of this. Rather than being comforted, we feel extraordinary discomfort. We become worried and irritated and wonder how it is that we feel guiltier than ever.
What About Those Who Have Never Heard?
One question frequently stops Christians in their tracks: "If the Gospel alone saves, then what about the heathen in Africa who never heard?" Can God justly convict a man who hasn't heard about Jesus? Some people hear the Gospel and reject it, but most never hear it. How can God condemn them? Christians are ill-equipped to respond because they don't really understand something vital about sin and mercy. Sin brings guilt. Mercy is a gift. Anyone who is a sinner receives punishment he deserves. Anyone who is saved receives mercy he does not deserve and which is not owed him. Think of this question: How could the sheriff send anyone to jail if he didn't offer him a pardon first? The answer is simple. If he's guilty, the sheriff is justified in throwing him in jail. There is no obligation to offer a pardon to a guilty man. The same is true of God. He can justly convict a man who has broken His law even though the sinner has heard nothing about God's pardon in Jesus. God owes no one salvation. He can offer it to whomever He wishes. That's why it's called grace. -Gregory Koukl