Pastor John Samson
We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners.
Like Humpty Dumpty, we all had a great fall, but not by accident, but by deliberate choice. The human race had a Federal Head in the Garden of Eden, namely Adam, who represented the entire human race. When he sinned, he sinned “for us” – we all sinned in him – he acted on our behalf. Because he was our Federal Head, this had huge and drastic consequences for us. Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…”
Did you catch that? We all sinned in Adam. When he disobeyed, he was disobeying on our behalf. His act brought death to us. We died in him. Just as Adam was cut off from the life of God (spiritually) as a result of his sin, all those born after him were born spiritually “dead on arrival” on planet earth. The Bible teaches us clearly that there are two Federal Heads for the human race, Adam and Christ. “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor 15:22). If we remain only represented by Adam, there is no hope for us whatsoever. Adam failed us all. He offers no redemption. God takes the sin of Adam and imputes it to all the human race. When Adam sinned, we sinned in him. That is the bad news – we were born sinners.
Before we say it is not fair that we are credited with Adam’s sin when we were not there in the garden, thousands of miles away, thousands of years ago, we need to remember, that the other side of the coin in imputation (crediting) is that Christ’s righteousness is credited to all those who place their trust in Him.
This is the really good news! Let me explain.
Jesus the second Man succeeded where Adam, the first man failed. All that Jesus did, He did for us. He already was perfect and already had a perfect fellowship with His Father. He did not need to come to earth for any reason, except for love. He came here for us. He came here on a mission to save His people from their sin (Matt 1:21) and His mission was accomplished. He could cry out on the cross, “It is finished!” (It is paid for, the debt is removed completely). Because of His work for us, if we will make the Lord Jesus Christ our Lord, we gain all that He accomplished by His perfect life of obedience, His death as our Substitute who died in our place and triumphant resurrection.
Now these words in Romans 5 begin to make sense: 17 “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”
Christ took the punishment our sins deserved and God imputed (credits, counts to us) the righteousness of One who obeyed God fully – a perfect righteousness that can never be added to or improved upon.
“Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:” – Romans 4:4-6
“For our sake he (God) made him (Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him (in Christ) we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor 5:21
Have you transfered your trust from your own works or actions and given yourself over to God’s mercy found in the only One who can save you, Jesus Christ? If you have, all that Christ is and all He achieved is yours, now and forever. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the gospel (good news) of Christ.
Christ came into the world to save sinners, and He does so when we turn from all self effort or trust in ourselves and instead rely soley on the finished work of the perfect Savior.
In Christ there is endless hope; in Adam there’s just a hopeless end. So let me ask you – who represents you, Adam or Christ?
Pastor John Samson
Some passages of Scripture are easier to understand than others. While some passages are extremely clear, others require a good deal of prayer, thinking and study before the meaning finally becomes apparent.
In 2 Timothy 2:7, Paul instructed Timothy – “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”
Here it is as though Paul says “Think Timothy.. keep on thinking.. mull it over and over in your mind… think about everything I have said.. think it all the way through.. God is not against you thinking.. in fact, He actually commands you to use your God given intelligence.. think through the implications.. use logic.. use rationality.. think everything through all the way as you seek to gain sound conclusions.. yes, even as you look to God for the understanding… think, and go on thinking.. don’t stop Timothy because understanding will come.. the Lord gives understanding, remember that.. even as frustration seems to be your only friend, persevere… keep on thinking.. understanding will come.. think, think, think.” Even though it is the Lord who gives the understanding, we are often called upon to do a whole lot of thinking before illumination comes.
If you have struggled as I have to try to understand some things in the Bible, you are in very good company. It is something of a comfort to know that even the Apostle Peter found some of Paul’s writings “hard to understand.” (2 Peter 3:16)
One of the basic rules of hermeneutics (the science of biblical interpretation) is that on any given subject we should start by examining the clear passages before moving on to the seemingly unclear. Then we should use the clear passages to determine what Scripture teaches and use them to interpret the unclear. I am sure you will agree that this is an immensely helpful rule.
How heartening it is to read clear passages like John 3:16 which says that all who believe in Christ will “not perish but have eternal life.”
John 6: 37-40 is equally clear – “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
I cannot for one moment conceive of the Lord Jesus failing to do the will of His Father and here the passage teaches us that it is God’s will that He will not lose any of those given to Him by the Father but will raise all of them up to eternal life at the last day. Jesus is the perfect Savior who saves perfectly.
Notice the words of John 10: 26-30, “… but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” Jesus the true and perfect Shepherd loses none of His sheep. What could be clearer?
In the final words of the epistle of Jude we read, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” Jude 24, 25. Properly understood, these words leave no room for any doubt on the issue. I have written a short article on this here.
Romans 8:29-30 is also a clear passage: For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
In what theologians refer to as “The Golden Chain of Redemption,” God is revealing to us an unbreakable chain that starts in eternity past, goes through time, and on into eternity future. This chain is forged by God Himself, and has five unbreakable links: God foreknows, predestinates, calls, justifies and glorifies.
Notice that there is one ambiguity in the text; something that is not actually stated but is definitely implied – that being the word “all.” Let’s see this clearly by inserting another possible implication by way of contrast, the word “some.”
“For (some) whom He foreknew, He predestined; (some) He predestined, He called; (some) He called, He justified; and (some) He justified, were glorified.” What kind of comfort and security would that give to us? Would we be able to say “who can separate us from the love of Christ?”
I think our answer would have to be that “many things” could separate us from the love of Christ (if the intended implication was the word “some” in this passage). It would make absolutely no sense whatsoever, and certainly would not give us any kind of security in Christ, which is the very thing Paul is seeking to provide for us in this passage.
No, I believe 100 out of 100 Bible scholars would all agree that the implication of the text is that ALL He foreknew, He predestined; ALL He predestined, He called; ALL He called, He justified; and ALL He justified, He glorified.
Notice the statement “these He justified; He also glorified.” If this was the only verse in the Bible on the subject, it would be enough on its own to show us that no truly justified person loses salvation. All those who are justified end up being glorified. None fall through the cracks, so to speak. So certain is the final outcome that God speaks of glorification in the past tense. Though in this life we are not yet glorified, so certain is God that we will arrive at this condition that He announces it ahead of time “these He justified, He also glorified.” I don’t know how the Scripture could be written with any more clarity. Case closed!
Let me quickly point out that we are not justified by the mere profession of faith but by the possession of faith (Romans 5:1). Not all who make a profession of faith have possession of genuine saving faith. Only true genuine faith justifies, and true faith will show itself (reveal itself) by works.
In a verse that gives terrific insight into this whole question, the Apostle John wrote, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19). John makes it plain that those who leave the Christian faith were never truly a part of it. I don’t know of a more emphatic statement that could be made on this issue.
Then there’s Jesus words to those who seem to have exercised Christian ministry and who are shocked when at the Judgement, Jesus says “Not everyone who says to me, “˜Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matt 7:21-23)
Jesus words give great insight when He says, “I never knew you…” It is important to note that He did not say, “I knew you once for a short period, but you blew it!” No, the phrase “I never knew you” indicates that those who are sent away to a lost eternity are people who were never in any kind of saving redemptive relationship with Christ.
However, at least at first glance, some scripture verses seem to undermine these precious truths. Because the Bible is the inspired word of God, it is consistent throughout. It never contradicts itself.
On this question about whether a true, genuine Christian can lose salvation, it is good to ask this question – are there any actual verses that show a true believier actually losing salvation? Can we point to anyone by name? As I have looked through the Scriptures, my answer has to be “no.” That’s because I cannot think of anyone who was saved and then lost that salvation.
Some raise the issue of Judas Iscariot as he was one of the original twelve disciples and had a successful ministry amongst them until he betrayed Christ. However, Jesus made it clear that rather than him being a true disciple, Judas was in fact “a devil.” (John 6:70, 71) Jesus words make it clear that Judas was never a true child of God.
True saving faith is not the product of man’s hostile heart of stone human nature, but is in fact the gift of God (Eph 2:8, 9; Phil 1:29). Its nature is one of continual trust in God even during hard times. Jesus is “the author and perfector of our faith.” (Heb 12:2) What He starts, He finishes. Those who fall away show themselves to have cheap imitations of the real thing (genuine faith), for the real thing endures – that is its very nature – (as we saw in 1 John 2:19)… it presses, it strives for holiness and relationship with Christ, showing evidence of a new affection and nature.
If there is no spiritual fruit we can be sure that there is no living spiritual tree for its by our fruit that we are known as Christ’s disciples (Matthew 7:20). True Christians must endure, and the fact is, true Christians will. The One who started the work in us will bring it to completion until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6).
These things are clear. We now turn to a passage that is not quite so clear, Galatians 5:2-4, and for this I quote material provided by my friend, Dr. James White on his blog at www.aomin.org. I trust you will find it to be a blessing.”
– Pastor John Samson
Question: How do we explain Galatians 5:4 which talks of people falling from grace?
Answer: Gal 5:4… you have fallen from grace. – This shows that you can receive God’s grace and then fall. Quite true: but what kind of grace, and in what context?
These words are addressed to a particular group, as the context shows:
Galatians 5: 2 “Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”
So in what way had those seeking to be justified by law “fallen from grace”?
The assumption that is usually made is that to fall from grace proves that you once received saving grace; evidently, the same assumption would follow that one who is severed from Christ was once joined to Him savingly.
Aside from the contradictions such a position creates with the plain assertions of Scripture elsewhere, the fact of the matter is Paul is addressing those who were seeking to add to faith in Christ the single act of obedience encompassed in circumcision–clearly the Judaizers were not saying you did not have to believe in Christ, nor were they importing the entirety of the law of Moses (Paul argues their inconsistency at this point as part of his refutation of them); instead, they were adding a select list of things one had to do in addition to faith to be right before God. Paul has already laid out the stark contrast between the path marked by law-keeping obedience and that marked by grace-inspired faith in Christ. One cannot go down both paths.
These men were still seeking their justification, unlike true believers who look back upon theirs (Romans 5:1). They had not yet found peace with God by faith in Christ Jesus alone, and Paul says they will never find it going down the path they are going. They have been severed from Christ not in the sense that they had been salvifically united to Him and now He was failing to save them, but that by seeking to be made justified by something other than faith alone, they were severed from the only true source of life in Christ; they have fallen from grace not that they had been salvifically regenerated and justified and sanctified by grace already, and were now destroying that grace by their beliefs, but that they have fallen away or failed of grace (literally) by proceeding down a path grace has never, and will never, mark out, that path of human cooperation and works righteousness that is so much the desire of the unregenerate heart.
To prove that God’s sovereign electing grace can fail to save the elect would require a text far more to the point than one addressing false teachers who are perverting the gospel and thus cutting themselves off from salvation.
Pastor John Samson
I remember a time (May, 1981) when as a teenager, I was given the privilege of representing my High School in a soccer penalty shoot out competition. I survived the knock out rounds and ended up playing at Anfield, Liverpool’s home ground in England before a crowd of more than 17,000 people. This was a very memorable night for me, to put it mildly – one I still remember with pleasure. At the time, Liverpool were the greatest soccer team in Europe. Three weeks later, they won the European Cup. As a boy I had stood on the terraces and watched my favorite team play so many times. Now it was my turn to play there and my emotions were mixed. I was both very anxious and extremely excited.
On the Sunday before this big event, a Christian brother, knowing what I would face and knowing that I was more than a little nervous to play in front of such a vast crowd told me to focus on the text mentioned above, namely Paul’s words to the Philippians in chapter 4, verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
At the time, the text was a real comfort to me and without doubt it became the object of my focus. But now years on, though I was inspired by the text, I do not believe it was a correct application of the text. Paul was not referring to sporting events in that text.
In our day, we are far too keen to rush to make application of the text. People want “practical” sermons and practical messages. Well there’s nothing wrong with that. The Bible is intensely practical, yet we need to rightly interpret a text before we attempt to apply it. The one thing comes before the other. False interpretations lead inevitably to false applications.
How do we ascertain the meaning or interpretation of a text? The answer comes by applying the rules of hermeneutics, which is the science of biblical interpretation. One of the rules to apply is that of “context.” Simply taking the time to read a text in its context eliminates so many false interpretations.
The words “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” have a context, and this context allows us to ascertain what Paul meant by his words. The whole book of Philippians provides a context, and we could take a lot of time to document it, but if we simply look at the few verses before the one quoted here, we immediately see what the “all things” were that Christ would strengthen Paul to do:
Phil 4:10 – I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
So, what were the “all things” of verse 13 referring to? Running the 100 meter race in less than 9 seconds, perhaps? Breaking the long jump world record? How about swimming the Atlantic in a day? No, the context has nothing to do with sports or human feats of skill. The “all things” refer to the trials of life – the good times and hard times, the times of joy and the times of sorrow; the times of prosperity and the times of lack. And for Paul, this contentment in the face of life’s difficulties or joys was not something that came naturally to him but something that he learned (v. 11, 12).
The application is not that a Christian strengthened by Christ will win a soccer penalty shoot out competition. I scored 2 out of 3 by the way, and while still a notable feat against Liverpool’s goalkeeper Bruce Grobelaar, I still rue the fact that I missed one… I also remember being somewhat disillusioned that I did not win the whole competition because I was expecting Christ to “strengthen me” to do exactly that. My disillusion stemmed from a false interpretation and application of the text.
No matter what comes our way in our lives as Christians, we, like Paul, are to learn contentment and go through each trial knowing that Christ Himself will strengthen us to do so. Paul did not write this as a mere promise, as good as this would be. It is more than a promise, it is a statement of fact.. “I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
It is as if Paul is saying, “I am not going under, for Christ strengthens me.. I will not give up, for Christ strengthens me. Sometimes life is a lot tougher than I would like, and sometimes it seems like I cannot bear its pressures another moment and find myself in deep despair (see his words in 2 Cor 4), yet I know I can endure, because of Christ. Its me.. yes, me, Paul, that does it… and I know I can do and will do it.. but I recognize that its not because of my strength but His. This is not arrogance – this is not some form of puffed up pride in my heart. This is something altogether different. This is a Christ centered confidence – not in myself, but Him. He has not left me alone at any point, nor will He do so now. I am confident, no matter what happens in life, with both its times of severe pressure and its times of euphoric joy, I can handle it all, I can do it all, through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Child of God, no matter what comes your way today, you can go endure it, because first of all, you learn to be content in each circumstance, and secondly, you know that the power that sustains you in such times of great abundance or deep poverty, is Christ’s own power, and He is living in you, and will strengthen you. Of this, you can be sure. You can do all these things because Christ will give you strength.
Pastor John Samson
“Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.” – Matthew 3:13-15
“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.” – 1 Corinthians 1:30-31
CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS, AND LIVED FOR OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
The Lord Jesus Christ not only died an atoning death for our sins, but He also lived a sinless life that perfectly fulfilled the righteous standards of the law. If all that was necessary for our justification was the death of Jesus on the cross, He could have come down to earth on a parachute on Good Friday, died on the cross for us, and three days later, risen again. But we all know that this is not what happened. Why? Because that would never have been enough.
The good news of the Gospel is certainly that Christ died for our sins.. but it also includes the fact that He lived for our righteousness. For more than 33 years, Christ was tempted in every way like us, yet He was without sin (Heb. 4:15). Christ is the only One who can say that He loved His Father perfectly in life, with all His heart, soul, mind and strength.
At the cross then, all our sins were laid on Him (though of course, He remained the holy and spotless Lamb of God, in and of Himself) and as our sin bearer, He was punished in our place. As the angel declared to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, “you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24).
Isa 53:5, 6 says, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”
But that is far from all of the story. There was a double imputation that took place on the cross. If Christ had merely paid the penalty for our sins, our debt to God would have been cancelled, and no punishment would be due to us, thank God! But that is not nearly enough to gain an entry into heaven. That would simply remove the outstanding debt we owed to God and bring us to zero… and zero is not enough. Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness (positive) exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you shall in no way enter the kingdom of God.” (Matt. 5:20)
We as sinners not only need the removal of the negative (our sin) but the presence of the positive… full and complete righteousness to be able to stand before a holy God just in His sight. So not only were our sins imputed to Christ and He bore their full punishment for us on the cross, but positively, the righteousness of Christ was imputed to us. The punishment due to us because of our sin came upon Him, and the pleasure of God due to Jesus’ complete obedience to every jot and tittle of the law, came upon us. The very righteousness of Jesus Christ is the righteousness imputed to us by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone. This righteousness is one that has perfectly fulfilled the entire demands of the law of God.
The work of Christ is perfect in every respect, and perfect in every aspect. The righteousness now enjoyed by the believer is an alien one (one that comes from outside of himself) for it is the righteousness of Christ Himself. It comes to us as a gift, not something earned (Rom. 5:17), and is the cause of our rejoicing in the direct presence of the Lord. “For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin, to become sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor. 5:21. As believers in Christ, we’ve been made righteous with a righteousness that has never known sin, and has fully complied with all the righteous demands of the law. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Pastor John Samson
I can well remember hearing a preacher in the course of his sermon asking a series of questions. His first question was “how many of you believe the Bible is the word of God?”
It was a Christian audience and so all raised their hands. Then he asked, “how many of you have read it?”
Many raised their hands until he quickly added, “all of it?”
I could hear audible grumblings around me as many of those with raised hands now slowly lowered them. Some mumbled, “I’ve read most of it”, or “I’ve read all of the New Testament.” One thing became clear, only about 5% of the audience had actually read the Bible through.
He then asked, “how many of you have read any other book?”
All raised their hands once again.
Then the preacher said, “do you see how inconsistent this is? Here you are, having read other books, but the book you claim to believe is inspired by God Himself, is not something you have read. What does this say about your belief in the Bible?”
The silence that ensued was more than a little uncomfortable.
He went on, “If you sincerely believe the Bible is the word of God, should you not have read it?”
Once again, he paused, allowing for the question to make its intended impact.
Finally, he then said, “Here’s my challenge – start today and read three chapters a day and four on Sundays and by this time next year you will have read the Bible through.”
I am sure there are better methods for reading through the Bible but the preacher’s point is a good one. We as Christians need to be “people of the book.” If there is one book we should read or should have read, it is the Bible. All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16) and it is unlike any other book out there. Job wrote that he loved God’s law more than his necessary food (23:12). He would rather go without food than miss time with the word of God. Can the same be said about us?
Justin Taylor wrote the following: “I really believe in the value of not just reading, but hearing, God’s Word… In listening to an old lecture recently by J. I. Packer, he made the comment that it was not until after the 17th century (as far as he could tell) that people started doing silent prayers and reading as opposed to praying and reading out loud. For most evangelicals, silence represents the vast majority of our reading and praying. But I wonder if that’s to our detriment. One of the great enemies to Bible reading and praying is a wandering mind—and one of the great ways to make your mind wander is to do everything in your mind without involving your voice and ears! . . . Here’s something else to consider: the entire Bible on audio is usually about 75 hours (or 4500 minutes). If you commute to work 5 days a week, that’s about 260 days a year. And if it takes you, say, 17 minutes to commute each way to work—and if you listen to the Bible on audio during your drive each way—you’ll get through the entire Bible twice in a year.”
There are many good daily Bible reading plans. For those who would like the convenience of an online source there are now many options. New technology allows not only the reading of the Bible, but hearing it too. If you enjoy the ESV here are six different plans to choose from – each of which allow for each daily segment to be sent to your e-mail address or as a podcast here.
Some might like to add to their Bible reading by going through reformed confessions each day. You can do so here.