Every sinner concerned about his salvation has asked the question, “WHAT SHALL I DO?” If the concern has resulted from the preaching of the Word of God and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, he should be sure that the answer is in the Bible. But he may ask as did the Ethiopian eunuch, how can I understand, except some man should guide me?
At once we must recognize the importance of a human guide. Something more is required than that a person be sincere and earnest, filled with religious zeal, and even a soul burdened for poor, lost sinners. Today as never before Christians dealing with sinners should be workmen that needeth not to be ashamed, “rightly dividing the Word of truth.”
Do you suppose that there was any lack of real sincerity on the part of those zealous religious people of the first century who went from Jerusalem to Antioch and preached, with great conviction, “except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” Acts 15:1. Many very religious, well-meaning people in Paul’s day, had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. Romans 10:1 to 3. Some very earnest Christians, who endeavor to be faithful as soulwinners, seem to be ignorant that they give to sinners a perverted gospel which subverts the soul. Galatians 1:7. Acts 15:24.
No one is more wrong than the religious workman, who is sincerely wrong. It is all well enough to say, concerning some enthusiastic, zealous religious worker, “dear soul”, “he or she is so earnest.” But dealing with lost sinners is a very delicate operation and a most important occupation. Workmen must know the difference between the gospel of the kingdom for Israel and the gospel of the grace of God preached to individual sinners by the Apostle Paul. It was he who received the message from the risen Christ and has passed it on to us. Galatians 1:11 to 18; Acts 20:24; Ephesians 3:1 to 3.
It is a spiritual crime to mix the message of John the Baptist or that of the Twelve to Israel with the message of grace, to say nothing of substituting the former for the latter. Should we preach to an unsaved man I John 1:9 when we are told that that message is addressed to believers?
In order that we may appreciate the importance of rightly dividing the Word of truth in presenting the gospel to the sinner, answering his question, “what must I do” we submit for your study, comparison and contrast:
GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM
Luke 3:10 to 14: “And the people asked Him saying, What shall we do then? He answered and said unto them, “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none: and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto Him, Master, what shall we do? And He said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.”
Luke 10:25 to 28: “And behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answered and said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all they strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And He said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.”
Luke 18:18 to 22. “And a certain ruler asked Him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. And when Jesus heard these things, He said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow Me.”
Acts 2:37 and 38: “Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles: Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Acts 9:6 and 7: “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him. Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no man,” Acts 22:10 to 26: “And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall he told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.” “And why tarriest thou? Arise and he baptized and wash away thy sins.”
Acts 10:6: “He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the seaside: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.” Acts 10:34 to 38: “Then Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all;) That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached: How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: Who went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: for God was with Him.” Luke 13:24: “Strive, (agonize) to enter in at the straight gate; for many, 1 say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not he able.” Matthew 24:13: “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall he saved.”
PAUL AT PHILIPPI.
Acts 18:30 to 32: “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt he saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”
NOW FOR THE UNMIXED MESSAGE OF GRACE, MERCY AND PEACE. THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD.
Romans 3:24 and 25: “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.”
Ephesians 2:8 to 10: “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.”
Titus 3:5 and 6: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, hut according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost: Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”
II Timothy 1:9 and 10: “Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
If we are willing to acknowledge that a mixture of law and grace frustrates the grace of God and perverts the gospel, we should know that a mixture of the kingdom message of John the Baptist and the Twelve Apostles, with the “dispensation of grace” committed to Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles, will likewise frustrate the grace of God.
Let us be careful to sound forth the pure unmixed gospel of the grace of God, to sinners. In the matter of the sinner’s salvation, it is by grace—through faith—not of works—it is the free gift. No striving—no enduring, no religion. Simply trusting. Christ is the believer’s hope. His precious shed blood is the sinner’s need. Redemption is not for sale. Redemption is not an attainment. Christ obtained it. It is yours for the taking.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.