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Peter Meney, Doctrinal Matters

Do you ever feel there is more to the gospel than most people make out?

Someone says,

“The gospel is easy, all you have to do is believe”.

Well that sounds easy. What do I have to believe?

“Oh, just believe that Jesus died.”

H-okay. Everyone dies – so that’s not hard to believe. Does that make me a Christian?

“Well no, you have to believe He rose again from the dead, as well”.

Okay. I can do that. Right, done.

“And that He went to heaven. And that He is coming back.”

Okay. Anything else?

“Well, you must believe in God and believe you’re a sinner.” “And you have to worship, and trust in the blood, and get baptised.” “You have to repent and pray as well, plus you should probably stop going to the pub.”

Wait! Wait! I thought you said this was easy.

More than simple faith

The truth is, the gospel is much bigger, broader, more profound, more meaningful and important than a few glib comments or a handful of trite religious suggestions. If you ever hear someone start a sentence with…

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Only a crook or a clown offers what he cannot deliver. So which one is God when freewill preachers tell us He desires everyone to be saved and freely, sincerely and genuinely offers salvation to all men and women?

Can God deliver upon such a promise? Not if there is a definite number of individuals in the election of grace. Not if there is a limitation in the number of sinners for whom the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross. Not if the quickening, regenerating, converting work of God the Holy Ghost is restricted only to those chosen in eternity and redeemed by the precious blood of Christ.

So which one is it? Is God a crook, deceiving men and women, pretending to hold out a genuine salvation fully knowing that provision for their atonement, forgiveness and reconciliation never was made and never was intended? Or is God a clown? Has He made a mistake, got the plan wrong, or perhaps just having a laugh at the sinners’ expense? Perish the thought!

If sovereign grace preachers were contending with Arminians or Wesleyans of a previous age upon this subject we should be little surprised. But amazingly, today, it is people who like to call themselves Modern Calvinists after Reformation hero John Calvin who are dusting off old heresies and fobbing them off as Biblical Christianity.

They teach that all men are potentially saved by virtue of Christ’s atonement for sin. They speak of the unlimited value of Christ’s blood and its sufficiency to…

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Forgiveness of sin is the heart of the gospel. Election is the beginning of the gospel. Eternal glory with Christ is the end of the gospel. But peace with God through sins forgiven is the beating heart of gospel grace.

When forgiveness is little valued the gospel is held in low esteem. If sin appears as a small thing, a matter of no real gravity or consequence, then the gospel will not be treasured in God’s church and God’s testimony will be diminished in the estimation of sinful men.

This is the curse of our day. Men and women have little sense of sin, no dread of judgment and no felt need for forgiveness. We call good evil and evil good, morality is stood on its head and we have become so inured to our own evil nature we don’t even notice it. Well did the Lord Jesus say “blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness”. Those unconcerned about their lack of righteousness are doubly cursed, first with a soul steeped in sin and second with a mind too dark to discern their perilous state. We are sinking slowly into hell and we are ignorant and careless of our dilemma.

Now, I do not doubt most of you who read these words will heartily agree. After all, Scripture is its own witness. “And”, writes the Apostle John, “this is the condemnation, that…

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Let us state clearly our understanding of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The gospel is the message of God’s love and saving grace to particular sinners by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Godman. Where there is no preaching of substitutionary atonement, suretyship and representation of sinners by the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no gospel.

Salvation is a completed work, accomplished upon the cross, sure and certain for every adopted child of God. If sinners are required to do something to activate, apply or secure the benefits of Christ’s work, there is no gospel and our Saviour’s dying testimony “It is finished” is bereft of all meaning.

If Christ’s work is offered conditionally to all (“Christ will if you will”) implying grace is…

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The ‘gospel’ is claimed and proclaimed by every Christian tradition and denomination and most preachers will happily tell us it means ‘good news’. Yet every denomination’s gospel differs in one way or another, so a sincere enquirer might well be left wondering, “What is the real gospel?”.

The Apostle Paul acknowledged there was another gospel, a false gospel, that really is no gospel at all. He knew the difference between grace and works, between salvation accomplished and applied freely by Jesus Christ to God’s elect, and salvation offered conditionally as a possibility to everyone.

If salvation is accomplished and applied by Jesus Christ it is God alone who saves sinners and we must acknowledge His sovereignty in salvation. If our gospel offers the possibility of salvation the question must be asked…

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To be described as being particular about things is not always a compliment. In fact it is sometimes used as a polite put down as much as to say, ‘He’s very fussy’, or ‘She’s hard to please’.

This is often the impression given when some Christians, usually Baptists, describe themselves as ‘Strict and Particular’. One can imagine someone new to the phrase wincing slightly at the expression. The picture of an austere old aunt or a disciplinarian teacher might spring to mind. Hair combed, laces tied and sitting quietly. Overly strict and very particular.

Strict

Of course the real meaning of the term is quite different and has more to do with the historical development of theology in certain churches. Congregations who practise strict communion place some kind of restriction upon who is allowed to join in church fellowship and participate at the Lord’s Table. Criteria differ from church to church but in essence all true churches ought to be sensitive about who receives the Lord’s supper and thoughtful about who may share in what is, in essence, a remembrance meal for believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Particular

Similarly, ‘particular’ has a meaning not immediately obvious in current usage. While those who are Particular might often appear ‘hard to please’ when it comes to church matters or theology (and other things too) the real meaning of the word has to do with the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. ‘Particular’ has reference to the nature and extent of the atoning work of Jesus Christ, rather than the fastidiousness of an individual believer.

Redemption redefined

Recently some professing Christians have sought to redefine the meaning and purpose of the death of Jesus Christ. They have claimed that Jesus’ death on the cross was nothing to do with…

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The Great Divide

21 Feb 2022, by

In this world there is a great divide. There are those who have been chosen to salvation, in Christ, from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) and those who have not. There are those who have been predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29) and those who have not.

There are some, in this world, for whom the blood of Christ cleanses from all sin (1 John 1:7), whose sins are pardoned and who are justified by God. There are others who will themselves forever carry their own sin and its consequences (Matthew 25:46). Every person ever born from the beginning of the world to its end, is on one side of this great divide or the other.

On one side of this divide are the redeemed, the purchase of God (Psalm 74:2). On the other side are those forever…

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Here We Stand

10 Feb 2022, by

New Focus Magazine is purposefully and plainly a sovereign grace publication. We seek with every edition to uphold, explain, promote and preach the message of God’s free grace in Christ and the absolute necessity of divine power to initiate, apply and secure the salvation of sinners. We do not look to man to save himself for we know he cannot. We do not appeal to men to save themselves for we know they cannot. We believe God’s grace alone can save a soul, and we try to say it clearly.

This means we have no time for the teaching that man has a freewill with which to accept or reject God’s offer of salvation. We do not believe God has saving love for everyone, nor a will to save everyone. We do not hold there is grace from God for everyone. The nature of our sovereign almighty God and the existence of hell and judgment preclude such ideas. We do not believe the Lord Jesus Christ died for everyone on the cross nor that His death was…

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