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Peter Meney, Doctrinal Matters

The lilac envelope on the doormat had the personal touch of being homemade. It was addressed in practised calligraphy with a formal RSVP in the corner. The wedding invitation it contained was not exactly a surprise, we had heard about the engagement and sent our congratulations. But the wedding date was problematic, it was a busy time at work and a great distance to travel. Next morning we picked up a ‘with sincere regret’ card.

In the stationers an old friend beamed. He too had received an invitation and his excitement was evident. He had not expected to be asked to the wedding but was informed that arrangements were already in place. His dress-suit was ready and awaiting collection compliments of the groom. All was paid for and in the envelope was a receipt. His hotel room was booked, the account also settled. Even his travel tickets were enclosed.

Our invitation brought no tickets and no receipt. No wedding outfits were ordered, no travel arrangements made. Having decided not to attend nothing was lost, but the groom did not know this. What if we had wanted to go? What arrangements had been made for us? Where was our wedding outfit and confirmation of accommodation?

Then the penny dropped. It was never expected, nor intended, that we would attend the wedding. It was an empty invitation sent out for show. Nothing necessary for us to make the journey was arranged or supplied. The lilac envelope was for appearance only. It sounded good, it looked good, it made us feel valued and wanted, it was ingenious, but it was not sincere. What appeared as a grand invitation to attend a grand wedding was really a grand deceit. Despite the invitation, nothing was prepared, nothing was provided, nothing was supplied.

What kind of person sends such an invitation? Who would mock their friends by appearing to invite them while failing to provide what was necessary for them to attend? Certainly not a man of integrity, not an honest man. Yet today, preachers in pulpits are making just such offers and sending out such invitations, on behalf, they say, of God Himself. It is a genuine invitation, they tell us. “Come to the wedding of God’s Son”. It is a sincere offer, they say, lovingly given in the gospel to all who hear. A free offer, without condition, without restriction.

But is there with the offer an enabling to accept? Is there cleansing blood applied? Is a robe of righteousness supplied for the guilty, naked sinner? Is the ransom paid? Is the soul redeemed from the curse of the law? Has Christ carried their sin and died in their place? Is He now preparing a mansion for them? Is all that is needful most certainly supplied? No? Then it is an empty offer, a grand deceit and an insult to our sovereign God. Shame on the free-offer preacher who mocks a sinner thus.

When God invites a sinner to the wedding of His Son He provides everything required for him to come. With God’s invitation comes the gift of faith and power to accept, with His offer of mercy comes the gift of grace. He cleanses with precious blood, anoints with perfect righteousness, and by Jesus Christ opens the way of reconciliation into His holy presence. God never mocks the sinner with an insincere offer. Nor will He deceive those condemned already by offering them what can never be theirs. God’s invitations are full and gracious, never deceitful, never empty.

Peter Meney

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Peter L. Meney is the editor of “New Focus“, a web-based magazine available online. Its purpose and aim is to spread as widely as possible the gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of free, sovereign grace found in the Holy Bible, the Word of God.

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When free-will preachers offer salvation to all they invite an act of faith on the part of the sinner and a life changing ‘decision for Christ’. They deny the sovereign choice of God in salvation, ignore the everlasting covenant of grace and contradict the clear testimony of scripture that the elect are justified from eternity. Here are ten arguments to show such preachers that God’s chosen people are not merely saved by grace in time but accepted in Christ from everlasting.

1. Justification is an act of the eternal God

Justification is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to those who have none of their own. It is pronouncing a person righteous, according to law, as though he had never sinned. John Gill sees justification as ‘an act of God’s grace, whereby he clears his people from sin, discharges them from condemnation, and reckons and accounts them righteous for the sake of Christ’s righteousness, which he has accepted of and imputes unto them.’

Justification is an act which begins and ends in God and takes place outside of time. It is an immanent, internal act, initiated in the eternal will of God, acceptable to His grace and justice, consistent with His love, conducive to His glory. All this God ‘purposed in himself’ (Ephesians 1:9).

2. Christ our eternal Mediator

The mediatorial office of Christ requires that He be…

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Today, men talk about salvation only as something done in the experience of time with eternal consequences. But in the Bible salvation is described as something done by God in eternity past, revealed and experienced in time, and enjoyed in eternity future. Read the Word of God, marking the verb tenses used, and you will see that salvation was accomplished for God’s elect in the covenant of grace before the world began (Romans 8:28-31; 2 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 1:3-6).

First, since it was done in eternity, it must have been done by God alone. Without our aid, cooperation, assistance, work, or even our will, God saved us. Salvation is the work of God alone. And that salvation which God gives is the salvation God performs. It is an ‘eternal salvation’.

Second, God’s holy character tells us that He must have looked upon His people as being justified and accepted in Christ from eternity. Had it not been for the…

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The Word of God everywhere speaks of grace as distinguishing, discriminating and particular. Grace is never general, common or indefinite. Here are ten clear examples of distinguishing grace.

The Everlasting Covenant

Scripture talks freely and frequently of God’s promises to particular men. God made personal covenants with Noah, Moses, Abraham and David all of which teach us about the meaning of God’s covenant promises in general, and the nature of the everlasting covenant in particular (Genesis 17:7; Hebrews 13:20).

The ‘everlasting covenant’ has several names in scripture including the ‘covenant of grace’ and the ‘covenant of peace’. It is first made known in the Garden of Eden when God reveals His plan to send a Deliverer who will bruise the serpent’s head – though not without hurt to Himself (Genesis 3:15).

The parties to the everlasting covenant are Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These three distinct persons of the Godhead have covenanted together to accomplish all the requirements of justice and grace to secure the salvation of the elect of God. God has chosen a people in eternity as a bride for His blessed Son (John 17:24), Christ has subjected Himself to the cross to deliver the elect from judgement and death (John 17:4, 5; Hebrews 10:9). Then the Holy Spirit brings the blessings of Christ’s atoning work to those for whom the Son died, calling them, sanctifying them and applying to them the gifts of the everlasting covenant (1 Peter 1:2).

Personal Election

In all its aspects the everlasting covenant is personal, particular and effectual. Those who benefit from this divine covenant are the elect of God. Election is the…

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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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