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Definitions of Doctrine
by C. D. Cole
Volume II- SIN, SALVATION, SERVICE
PART 2-THE BIBLE DOCTRINE OF SALVATION
CHAPTER 15-Whosoever Will
“Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17
There is virtue in fairness. We ought to be fair with everybody. I expect most people have at one time or other been the victim of unfairness. We are unfair with a person when we misrepresent him, and will not let him speak for himself. We are unfair with the Bible when we will not let it say what it does say. We must not make the Bible fit our opinions; we must make our opinions fit the Bible. The Bible can be misrepresented in at least two ways: by ignoring portions of it, and by misinterpreting texts that are not ignored. I believe the Bible is misrepresented in both ways. Verses are misrepresented by having the wrong meaning given them, and subjects are misrepresented when all the truth on the subject is not considered.
“Whosoever will” is a much misunderstood doctrine because all the truth is not brought into use in dealing with it. I heard a preacher once say that John 5:40 does not say “Ye cannot come to me,” but “that ye will not come.” Now, he was not guilty of misquoting a verse, but he was guilty of misrepresenting a subject, because he ignored John 6:44 which does say that “No man can come unto me except the Father... draw him.” “Whosoever will” is made to teach that every man is able to come to Christ: whereas, the very opposite is the truth, for the literal rendering of John 6:44 says, “No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him.”
1. WHOSOEVER WILL MAY COME TO CHRIST AND BE SAVED.
Nobody is turned away in this day of grace. God is no respector of persons. God draws no color line: black or white or any other color may come to Christ and be saved. God draws no social line: rich or poor, bond or free, banker or bootblack, learned or ignorant, society queen or harlot of the brothel—any and all may come to Christ with the assurance that they will be received, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out,” (John 6:37). This blessed truth has been amply demonstrated. Look at some who have come and found salvation:—the dying thief, the fallen woman of Sychar, the persecuting Saul of Tarsus, the hard-hearted jailor: Jno. B. Gough, a sot drunkard, Jerry McCauley the river pirate John Newton the slave trader, John Bunyan the swearing tinker, and others too numerous to mention. If any despairing sinner reads these lines, let me urge him to come to Jesus Christ—trust in Him—look to Him—depend upon Him—and he will surely be saved.
2. NO MAN CAN COME TO JESUS CHRIST OF HIMSELF;
Only those drawn by the Father come to Him. Here is a good place to distinguish between CAN and MAY. CAN speaks of ability; MAY means permission. If a young man should say to a girl friend; “CAN I walk home with you from church?” If, she knows her English she is apt to say, “Well, you look strong enough to walk that far.” But if he should say “MAY I walk home with you?” she would understand that he was asking her permission, and if she liked him she would say, “Yes, you may.” “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely,” (Rev. 22:17) is an invitation to come to Christ and speaks of permission; “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day...And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father,” (John 6:44,65), speaks of ability and says no one is able to come to or believe on Christ without being drawn. This drawing by the Father is not external force, nor is the coming a physical approach. The drawing that brings men to Christ is an inward and gracious work of God in the soul, and the coming is the exercise of mind and heart in which a person takes the place of a sinner and puts his faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour. When Jesus said, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40), those to whom He spake were already in His physical presence. He was saying, “You will not trust me for salvation.” The clear implication is that had they trusted Him they would have received life. This verse speaks of responsibility to believe on Christ. Every man ought to come to Christ, for “he that believeth not shall be damned,” (Mark 16:16).
This brings us to a rather difficult question: Can there be responsibility where there is no ability? That depends upon the nature of the inability. If the inability is constitutional or created then there is no responsibility. Man, considered as a creature made in the image and likeness of God, has the ability to trust and love and obey His Maker. But inability caused by sin does not cancel responsibility. It is not because the sinner is a man that he cannot come to Christ for salvation: it is because he is a fallen man. He cannot come because of the state of his mind and heart—he does not have the disposition or will to come. It is not that he wants to come and can’t. The sinner is dead in trespasses and sins and must be made alive by the Holy Spirit before he can do anything to please God. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” (John 3:3); “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God,” (Rom. 8:7-8): “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them,” (Eph. 2:1-10).
Whosoever will implies the free agency of man. A free agent is one who acts of his own mind or accord without external force or compulsion from without. The unregenerate are free in rejecting Christ; nobody forces them to reject Him. And the regenerate freely come to Him, even though drawn to Him. In coming to Christ there is free expression of the new heart and sound mind—the new nature created by God in amazing grace. The ability to believe on Christ as Saviour is a grace given ability. This truth is acknowledged when we pray for the conversion of the lost. Repentance and faith are inseparable graces wrought in man by the Holy Spirit. Both are said to be the gift of God. “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins,” (Acts 5:31); “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life,” (Acts 11:18); “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;” (2 Tim. 2:25), “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase,” (1 Cor. 3:5-7).
3. ANOTHER PLAINLY REVEALED TRUTH OF SCRIPTURE IS THAT ALL THE FATHER GAVE TO THE SON WILL SURELY COME TO HIM.
Christ says “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me” (John 6:37). This makes their coming certain, and to say it is not certain is to dispute what incarnate Truth says. The veriest tyro in English knows that the verb SHALL in the third person denotes certainty. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint,” (Isa, 40:31); “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36); “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd..And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand,” (John 10:16,28). And so our Lord says that all those given Him by the Father will surely come to Him. We cannot pry into the secrets of the eternal council to find out who were given, but they can be identified after they come to Christ. “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost,” (1 Thess. 1:4-6). And we can be sure that everyone who comes was given to Christ. In praying to His Father He says, “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him,” (John 17:2). Here we have universal dominion for a specific purpose. “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word,” (John 17:6). I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine,” (John 17:9). And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled,” (John 17:11-12). Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;” (John 17:20). These verses speak of some given by the Father to the Son “out of the world.” Here is limitation whether we like it or not. Christ gave His life for the sheep “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep,” (John 10:11), and the sheep hear His voice and follow Him on a universal redemption. Let us ponder Revelation 5:9-10: “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of (ek) every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on (epi) the earth.”
We will conclude this chapter by giving a lengthy quotation from Spurgeon on “Particular Redemption.” “Now, you are aware that there are different theories of redemption. All Christians hold that Christ died to redeem, but all Christians do not teach the same redemption. We differ as to the nature of atonement, and as to the design of redemption. For instance, the Arminian holds that Christ, when He died, did not die with an intent to save any particular person; ....that Christ’s death does not....secure the salvation of any man living....Christ died, according to them, as much for Judas in hell as for Peter who mounted to heaven. They believe that for those who are consigned to eternal fire, there was as true and real a redemption made as for those who now stand before the throne of the Most High. Now, we believe no such thing. We hold that Christ, when He died, had an object in view, and that object will, most assuredly and beyond doubt, be accomplished. We measure the design of Christ’s death by the effect of it....We do not believe that Christ made any effectual atonement for those who are forever damned; we dare not think that the blood of Christ was ever shed with the intention of saving those whom God foreknew never could be saved, and some of whom were even in hell when Christ, ....died to save them.... We are often told...that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now our reply to this is that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it: we do not. The Arminians say, Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by it: Did Christ die so as to secure the salvation of all men? They say, ‘No, certainly not.’ Now, who is it that limits the death of Christ? ....We beg your pardon when you say we limit Christ’s death....it is you that do it. We say that Christ so died that He infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number. You are welcome to your atonement; you may keep it. We will never renounce ours for the sake of it. I am told that it is my duty to say that all men have been redeemed, and I am told that there is a Scripture...for it ‘Who gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.’ Now, that looks like a very great argument indeed on the other side of the question. For instance, look here. ‘The whole world is gone after Him.’ Did all the world go after Christ? ‘Then went all Judea, and were baptized of him in Jordan.’ Was all Judea or all Jerusalem, baptized in Jordon? ‘Ye are of God, little children, and the whole world lieth in the wicked one.’ Does the whole world there mean everybody? The words ‘world’ and ‘all’ are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture, and it is very rarely that ‘all’ means all persons, taken individually. The words are generally used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts—some Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some poor, and has not restricted His redemption to either Jew or Gentile” —Unquote.
Our heart can only say, “Amen” to these words from Spurgeon, than whom no greater preacher has lived since Paul. And we might add that Spurgeon has done more to shape our theology than any other uninspired man.
The human race was lost in the mass when the first Adam sinned. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous,” (Rom. 5:19). Man was not redeemed in the mass, but as particular individuals. Nor are sinners regenerated in the mass, but as individuals one by one. Repentance and faith are not exercised by the masses, but as individuals one by one. And we say again, “whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”
“Come, ye sinners, poor and needy, Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you, Full of pity, love and power.
Come, ye thirsty, come and welcome, God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance, Every grace that brings you nigh.
Come, ye weary, heavy-laden, Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till your’e better, You will never come at all.
Let not conscience make you linger, Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth Is to feel your need of Him”
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