Monday, February 10, 2014

The Problem of "If We Ask" Salvation

Theologian, we have a problem...

In a recent Internet conversation with a fellow Christian of another order, I was confronted with the following statement:
"Being saved by grace is a gift from God that He gives freely to all, if we ask Him." (Anonymous)
This belief is by far, by FAR, the most common belief regarding eternal salvation among professing evangelicals today. So universally accepted is this statement that to oppose it places one outside the camp of Christianity in the eyes of a great many professing Christians. Matters of popularity notwithstanding, what is the proper response to such a statement in light of the testimony of the scriptures?

It is absolutely, categorically, undeniable that this fellow Christian's statement regarding eternal salvation CANNOT be reconciled with the bible’s statements describing the condition of man as a result of the fall. If we fail to understand man’s condition as a result of the fall, then it is virtually inevitable that our understanding of the biblical doctrine of salvation will be likewise distorted. So it is of critical importance that we have a very clear understanding of the bible’s testimony regarding man in his fallen state.

Total Depravity Makes Seeking Impossible and All Asking is Seeking

In reference to man in his natural or fallen state Paul says, “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Romans 3:11) This precept makes it impossible for fallen man to meet the condition of “asking” God in order to obtain eternal salvation. In so doing it nullifies any doctrine that requires man to “ask” in order to obtain the gift of eternal life. Why is that so? Because it is absolutely undeniable that one must have some spiritual understanding in order to have any reason to “ask.” Moreover, “asking” is undeniably an act of seeking God, and as such it is outside the realm of possibility for man in his natural or fallen state according to Paul. King David put it this way, “The wicked through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” (Psalm 10:4) So you see that man in his unregenerate state will not and cannot seek God and thus he cannot “ask” God to save him. In other words, man left to his fallen state is utterly incapable of doing anything spiritual whatsoever because he is enmity with God. (Romans 8:7) This truth is commonly referred to as Total Depravity.

How To Solve This Dilemma? Immediate Holy Spirit Regeneration

If the story ended there, we would all be lost because in our natural (fallen) state we are incapable of asking, seeking, knocking, or any other spiritual act of reaching out to God. Yet the bible’s testimony is that there are some who seek God, some who call out to God, some who love God, etc. (Psalm 119:10, Matthew 8:25, I Kings 3:3) It follows that such men are not mere natural or unregenerate men, else they would be incapable of such acts. So what makes the difference in such men? The Lord taught, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3) and in so doing he taught that it is the new birth, God’s immediate, quickening act of imparting eternal life to his people, that must take place BEFORE someone could ever have either the capacity or the inclination to seek God.

Are You Shocked By This?  So Was Nicodemus

If this seems shocking to you, as a practitioner of popular Christendom, don’t be too alarmed. It was likewise shocking to Nicodemus who was a practitioner of the popular religion of his day. This teaching was utterly contrary to what Nicodemus had been taught as well. This was in no small part because the Lord's teaching insisted that eternal salvation was not dependent upon acts performed by man, but instead was solely dependent upon the sovereign will, mercy and choice of God. (Romans 9:16, Ephesians 1:4-5) Jesus taught Nicodemus that it is an act of God in regeneration that imparts eternal life and that apart from this life-giving act of God’s mercy, man lacks the spiritual capacity to perceive spiritual truth. The ramifications are many, but one of them is that any doctrine of salvation that claims that “any man can do” something in order to be given eternal life is completely at odds with the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ himself who taught "with men this is impossible." (Matthew 19:26)


To suggest that one must ask in order to obtain the gift of eternal life is to require an act of seeking in direct contradiction to the bible’s statement that an unregenerate man cannot seek God. (Romans 3:11) The resolution to this dilemma is found in sovereign regeneration and in the confidence that God has given the Lord Jesus Christ power over all flesh that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father has given unto him. (John 17:2) That is where you find peace and assurance in your salvation - by understanding that faith is an evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1), and that those things not seen include the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ that was performed on your behalf when you were "without strength" and "ungodly" long before you ever had the slightest inclination to seek God (Romans 5:6).

We should think far less of our capacity of seeking, 

and far more of the Good Shepherd's capacity of finding.


  1. So how do you suggest soul winning? What do I preach to others to lead them to christ?

    1. You could be saved and not know it!

      Are you seeking God? That is good because, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.”Psa 10:4 Some say they are seeking but their life is not changing. They still could be saved, “as by fire”(I Cor 3:15) They could be building on a man made religion that offers good feelings by loud mind control music. Feelings from rituals or religious activities And feeling moral by a “Social Justice Faith” gospel that focuses on helping the poor not the poor in spirit. They were diverted from what Jesus cared about. Mat 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” One way cults can enter the church is by not maintaining the Biblical definition of words. A cult and you could be using the same word but have different definitions of that word. For example, faith. ChatGPT can give you a big ‘list of faiths’. Webster has his definition of what faith is but he is not the Bible. I seen 9 theological apologist ideas of what faith is: 1. Intelligent Faith 2. Faith as Persuasion 3. Faith with Warrant 4. Rational Faith 5. Faith in the Context of Testimony 6. Faith as Adherence to Conceptual Propositions 7. Evidentialism and Classical Foundationalism 8. Blind Faith by Richard Dawkins. 9. Faith as the Work of the Holy Spirit. (Monergism: In theology, the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is the only efficient agent in regeneration.) Why is Biblical faith not clear to you? Are we saved by our faith in Christ? Is Christ the object of your faith better than an idol made of wood or stone? Do you have verses to support you understanding of what faith is? Is faith a work? We know we are not saved by works, so how does faith save us? 1Th 1:3 “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith…” We are not saved by works so it must be by His work of faith working in us to cause us to believe. Gal 2:16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even(caused us to believe) we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” His faith can be effective on those that do not believe or have the wrong belief, when He applies His faith. Rom 3:3 “For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” God could be protecting the atheist from religion and He can save who so ever He will just to see their shock when He says, “What do you think now?” Religion is so quick to get people to make a commitment and confess Jesus without knowing His reality. They like to use: Rom 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” It is saying, Is Jesus so real to you that you know, God must have raised Him from the dead? Then confess that truth. What church is teaching people to wait on Him for salvation? Lam 3:25, 26 “The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” Religion will try to get you to choose Jesus as an act of your self will and call that, “faith”. What counts is His will and power working in you.

    2. John 1:12,13 “But as many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Power only to those that are born again by His will. >Some say they are seeking, but their life is not changing. Some people can use the church to run away from God to ease their guilt by doing good works for the church. Some churches can develop a campaign of ‘giving till it hurts’ as way to ease guilt feelings by punishing people by making them give till it hurts. Psychologist has use a high fee to their clients to punish them for “therapeutic reasons”. Jesus said, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:34b-36) Religion will use guilt feelings to control people. They are not seeking God but running from Him. >How does a person grow? Or get motivated to grow? Religion is good at using the law to try to control people. They may use verses like. 2Ti 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Religion will say by studying you can find approval with God and not be ashamed. The key to understanding the verse is to know the only way not to be ashamed is to be saved. The verse is saying, Study yourself to see if Christ is working there in you rightly dividing the word of truth. Another example, see how Jesus leads a person into salvation, religious leaders should know He knows something about salvation and should learn from Him: Mat 7:7-14 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Therefore all things whatso-ever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” They should know how the “therefore” fits in with the other verses. One priest said, “It does not.” In these verses Jesus is trying to encourage us to develop a relationship with God by asking. God gives the best gifts and not second best or the good to keep you from the best, like religion does. He does not say what the “it” is. God will help you find the best, He knows how to give good gifts. He does not give precious gifts to children that would destroy the gift and love the paper wrapper. Or give you candy that would rot your teeth. First you need to see the value of the gift by knowing your need for it. By you trying to treat others as you would want to be treated you will see stages or steps of changes, so keep a log to help others. You will come see your need for a new heart and new desires like the great heart of Christ in you. To be motivated as He was in love for the Father. Find the joy that was set before Him that enabled Him to endure the cross. He said, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Mat. 11:30 Contend for the faith that made the saints, saints. (Jude 1:3)

  2. It is a fair question, one that we get asked quite a bit. I would start by pointing out that Primitive Baptists believe that so far as the matter of eternal salvation is concerned, there is but one soul winner, the Lord Jesus Christ himself. We believe he did absolutely everything required to save his people from their sins by his work alone plus absolutely nothing else. The gospel is the story of his accomplishment that teaches those who have the ears to hear that, "Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, and that he was buried and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures." (I Corinthians 15:3-4)

    So if in our evangelistic efforts we are to "win souls" - by which I mean deliver them from their state of ignorance regarding the news of their salvation - we must teach them the truth of their redemption in Christ (Hebrews 9:12) and teach them to walk in obedient discipleship as a logical ramification of their belief in this truth (Acts 2:40).

    So we should be preaching the truth of the finished, effectual work of Christ on behalf of his people. (John 10:11, Matt 1:21) It should be accompanied by the assurance that those who believe this proclamation are among his sheep and that they have eternal life (John 6:47) and shall never perish (John 10:28). We should be exhorting men to join with the Lord's church through baptism and to live in accordance with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ in obedient discipleship.

    A more complete explanation of the gospel is available in the October, 2012 archive of entitled "What is the Gospel?"

    Thank you for your question. May God bless our studies and understanding.