What is God Like? --Part 8

What is God Like?
Part 8

John S. Robertson

Why Don’t People Choose to be Saved?

John had read the passages on “Why Does God Allow Evil,” and while he thought he understood that man to be a human being must have a will of his own and freedom of choice, he wasn’t sure he knew all the implications of having a free will. Thus it happened that the next time he met with grandpa he had this question to ask, “If man can choose to do as he wishes, why doesn’t he choose what is right every time and shun evil?”

“Ah,” exclaimed grandpa, “that raises the question of original sin, or the effect of Adam’s sin upon the rest of the human race. We saw in our previous discussion that the Bible says, ‘by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned.’ This is in Romans five and twelve. God created man without sin and before he was tempted he was righteous and lived without sinning. When he ate the forbidden fruit he sinned and the righteousness and holiness of his nature was marred. This is usually spoken of as ‘the fall of man.’ There are differing views on the effect of this on the human family. Evangelical Christians, as a whole, believe that this fallen nature was passed on to all succeeding generations. I believe that this is the teaching of the passage we just quoted in Romans. Again, in the same epistle, in chapter eight and verses seven and eight, it says, ‘the carnal mind (the fleshly mind as opposed to the spiritual) is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So they that are in the flesh cannot please God.’”

“What other views are there?” inquired John.

“In our discussion, ‘One God,’ we mentioned a man called Arius who tried to persuade people that Jesus was not truly God. In the early days of the church and even today there are those who would teach doctrines that cannot be supported by the Bible. These teachings are called heresies. In the late fourth century, a Welsh Monk, named Morgan, but better known by the Greek form of his name, Pelagius, denied that Adam’s sin was transmitted to his posterity. He maintained that every child was born in the same innocency as Adam and that his will to do good depends completely on himself. Under this teaching a man could attain heaven strictly on his own merit by living a righteous and sinless life. This, of course, would rule out the necessity of Christ’s death on the cross.”

“Is it possible for a man to live without sinning?” inquired John.

“The Bible says, No,” stated grandpa emphatically. “We have quoted Romans three and twenty before in our discussions, ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.’ Isaiah fifty-three and six says, ‘All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way.’ Then John in his First Epistle, chapter one and verse eight says, ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’”

“Surely that should convince honest men,” declared John.

“Unfortunately men are not convinced by this,” mourned grandpa. “It didn’t convince Pelagius and there are thousands who still believe they can reach heaven by living by the Golden Rule.”

“What is the Golden Rule?” queried John.

“It says,” quoted grandpa, “ ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ There are many people who think if they do the best they can and try to live up to this rule, somehow their good deeds will outweigh their bad deeds and God will welcome them into heaven.”

“Does the Bible teach that?” questioned John.

“Certainly not,” stated grandpa. “The Bible says, ‘not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.’ Titus three and five. Then in Ephesians, chapter two and verses eight and nine, we read, ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.’ The Bible is so full of passages that tell of God’s plan for our salvation it would be difficult to know which ones to quote. But man will not heed the Bible nor God’s free offer of salvation.”

“What is God’s plan for the salvation of man?” was John’s next question.

“When man sinned in the Garden of Eden, God provided them with skins of animals to cover their nakedness,” explained grandpa. “This was the first indication that, ‘without the shedding of blood’ there could be no remission (forgiveness) for sin. This and all the blood sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed forward to the time when Christ would come to put an end to all sacrifices by shedding His own on Calvary to meet the righteous claims of God for sin.”

“Then the Old Testament contains the gospel just like the New Testament,” suggested John.

“Yes, indeed,” agreed grandpa. “In Abel’s offering of the firstling of the flock on through the offerings of the Patriarchs on their altars, and all the Levitical offerings, we see in type Christ’s atoning death on the cross. The offering of Isaac in Genesis twenty-two pictures salvation through the substitutionary death of the ‘ram caught in the thicket. The language of Isaiah fifty-three graphically foretells the experience and purpose of Calvary, ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed,’ verse five.”

“It is all so simple,” interjected John. “Why won’t people take God at His Word, believe the message and be saved?”

“In the Garden of Eden,” replied grandpa, “Satan first of all cast a doubt in man’s mind by suggesting God didn’t really mean what He said. Then he appealed to the vanity and pride of Eve by showing that the fruit was desirable and that it would make her wise. He is still using the same method today. He lets people think that a life of sin is a pleasant one. Then he appeals to man’s vanity and pride by suggesting that if he is going to be saved it is only right and reasonable that he have some part in it. Man finds it hard to believe that salvation can come from God without him having to do something to merit it.”

“Even with his right to make the choice, there is no guarantee that a man will choose Christ,” sighed John. “What hope is there?”

“The prophet Jeremiah said, ‘Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord and whose hope the Lord is,’” said grandpa. “The basis of our hope is trusting the Lord. ‘What think ye of Christ?’ becomes the deciding factor in our eternal welfare. Those who listen to the Holy Spirit make the right choice. Those who heed Satan make the wrong one and will spend eternity in hell which was prepared for the devil and his angels.”

“Wouldn’t it be awful for anyone to make that terrible choice?” shuddered John.

Passages to read: Genesis 4:3-5; 8:20-22; 22:1-14; Exodus 12:1-13; Leviticus 1:1-4; 3:1-17; 4, 5, 6; Psahn 40:2, 7, 8; 22:131; 69:1, 4, 7, 8, 14-20, 21; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; 53:1-12; John 3:1-18; Acts 3:36; 7:52; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; Ephesians 2:1-10; Hebrews 10:1-12).