A Difficult Doctrine
August 18, 2022
I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word (John 17:6).
At one time in their history, Baptists across the board believed in the sovereignty of God and the responsibility and accountability of the person in the salvation process. They believed God saved and called a person with a holy calling, not according to their works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given them in Jesus Christ from eternity past (2 Timothy 1:9). They believed they are beloved by the Lord because God has chosen them from the beginning for salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13), and that salvation is wholly based on the Father’s gracious elective choice, made possible through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.
Baptists believed that a person remains spiritually dead in trespasses and sins if God does not give them spiritual life (Ephesians 2:1,4). Jesus said (John 6:44), No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day, which means a person is utterly incapable and unable to come to saving faith unless God initiates that work in them. Furthermore, they believed both the grace to call a person to salvation and the faith the person must exercise in Jesus Christ to be saved are gifts from God. (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is never the result of a person’s ethics, morality, religion, wisdom, family lineage, personal will, etc. The Apostle Paul said that salvation does not depend on a person who determines to be saved, but on God who is merciful to save (Romans 9:16), that He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens, and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).
At the turn of the 20th century, Evangelical Christianity became affected by the liberal theology of German rationalists. As a result, “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession . . . Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Christian pastor and martyr under the Nazi Third Reich, 1945 (age 39).
Baptists across the board used to believe in these biblical truths. Not so much now. But the Word of God remains true no matter the cultural, theological, doctrinal, or religious shifts that take place. (Isaiah 40:8) The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. (1 Peter 1:22-23) Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever. Amen.