A. The Law

The function of God's law is to show forth God's perfect standard of righteousness that His people may:

1. Learn their natural inability to meet that standard, [Deu 9:4-6; Psa 130:3; Isa 64:6; Dan 9:5-11; Rom 3:19-20; 5:13,20; 7:7-13; Gal 3:10-12; 4:24-25; Jam 2:10-11]

2. Rest in a Substitute who would and did meet that standard on their behalf, [Psa 32:1-2; 34:19-20; 130:4; Isa 53:11; Joh 8:56; Rom 3:21-22; 7:24-25; 2Co 5:21; Gal 3:19; Heb 7:25-27; 11:24-28; 1Pe 2:21-24]

3. And strive to obey Him out of love, thankfulness, and a desire to glorify Him. [Exo 20:20; Deu 6:1-25; 8:1-18; 10:12-13; 13:4; Jos 1:8; 23:6; 1Sa 15:22; Psa 1:2; 119:2,4-6,10-11,16,55,60,72,77,97,109,112,129,166-168; Ecc 12:13; Mat 22:37-40; Joh 14:15,21; Rom 6:1-2,11-13; 1Co 6:20; Eph 5:15-21; Heb 12:28-29]

B. The Gospel

1. The gospel is God's promise to save His people, giving them all the blessings of salvation from regeneration to final glory, conditioned exclusively on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, totally apart from the sinner's works and efforts. It reveals the righteousness of God - how God is just to justify the ungodly based on the work of Jesus Christ alone. The gospel is not merely the fact that Jesus lived, died, and rose again, considered apart from the purpose of these truths, which were accomplished to establish a righteousness for all whom Jesus represented. [Gen 15:5-6; Psa 103:2-12; 130:3-4; Isa 1:18; 45:21-25; Jer 33:14-16; Mat 1:21; Joh 3:16; Act 13:32-39; Rom 1:16-17; 3:21-26; 4:5-8,13-25; 10:4,15; 1Co 15:1-8; 2Co 1:20; 5:21; Eph 1:3-2:22; 3:6; Col 1:5; 2Ti 1:1,9-10; Heb 10:4-17]

2. Immediately upon the first sin of Adam and Eve, God gave out this gospel as a promise to the serpent (for the benefit of the Church) that He would cause one of Eve's descendants to destroy the work of the devil. From the first giving of this promise until its consummation in Jesus Christ, God has given no new gospel. All the saints from the beginning of creation have believed this gospel. [Gen 3:15; Psa 32:1-2; Isa 53:1-12; Luk 24:44-46; Joh 8:56; Act 13:32-33; Rom 4:1-7; 2Ti 3:14-15; Heb 11:24-26,39-40; 1Pe 1:10-12]

3. The gospel, which is clearly revealed within the Scriptures, is the power of God to salvation to everyone believing. No man ever has, or ever can be, saved apart from the knowledge of this gospel, for it is this gospel and this alone that glorifies God in all His redemptive attributes. Scripture rejects the lie that a regenerate person may be ignorant of the gospel or that the people of God were saved by various other means under various other dispensations (such as the keeping of the law in the time of Moses, etc.). [Deu 4:34-35; Psa 36:9; 119:98-100; Isa 45:20; Mat 13:23; Mar 16:16; Luk 24:44-46; Joh 6:40,45-47; 8:32,56; 17:3; Act 4:12; 26:26; Rom 1:16-17; 4:1-8,23-24; 6:17-18; 10:2-3,8; 1Co 2:10-12; 10:9-11; 2Co 4:3-6; Gal 3:10-13; Eph 1:13; Phi 3:8; 2Th 2:13-14; 2Ti 3:15; Heb 11:27; 1Jo 5:20]

C. Regeneration and Conversion

1. Regeneration (also known as the new birth) is that grace in which the Holy Spirit brings a sinner from spiritual death to spiritual life, takes away his old heart and old spirit, implants within him a new heart and a new spirit, and indwells him. He is made a new creation, dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ, so that he is no longer totally depraved and no longer serves sin. God's grace in regeneration is irresistible; that is, no man is able to resist the motions of the Holy Spirit to regenerate him. Regeneration is never preceded by any condition the sinner meets, can meet, or is enabled to meet. [Deu 30:6; Jer 24:7; Eze 11:19-20; 36:25-27; Zec 4:6; Joh 1:13; 3:3-8; 6:37,44,63; 10:3-5,27; 17:2; Rom 5:5; 6:1-22; 7:6; 8:2,5-16,30; 1Co 15:45; Eph 2:5; 4:22-24; Col 2:11-13; Tit 3:5; Heb 9:13-15; 1Pe 1:23]

2. At the same time a sinner is regenerated, he is adopted into God's family and set apart from the world. He is counted to be as holy and acceptable before God as Jesus Christ Himself, is made to be at peace with God, and enters into fellowship with God based on the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. [Job 29:14; Psa 85:8; Isa 26:3; 32:17; 61:10; Joh 1:12; 17:21-23; Rom 3:22; 4:6-8; 5:1-2,19; 8:14-17,33-39; 1Co 1:30; 6:11; 2Co 5:21; Gal 3:26; 4:5-7; Eph 1:4-5; 2:14-19; 3:11-12; 5:25-27; Col 1:20-22; 2Th 2:13; Tit 3:7; Heb 2:10-11; 1Jo 1:3; 3:1; Rev 21:7]

3. Conversion is that grace in which the Holy Spirit causes the sinner to repent and believe the gospel. The regenerate person is given a knowledge and understanding of the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the work of Jesus Christ alone and the realization that he was unregenerate when he believed a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner. He counts all of his former life and deeds, whether religious or irreligious, as dead works, evil deeds, and fruit unto death. Conversion is the immediate and inevitable fruit of regeneration; therefore, a person may not be regenerated without being converted. There has never existed and will never exist a regenerate person who is ignorant of the gospel. Scripture rejects the lie that an unregenerate person can be under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, since the Holy Spirit only leads people to Jesus Christ and His righteousness as the only ground of salvation. [Deu 4:34-35; Isa 45:6,20-25; Mat 13:23; Mar 16:16; Joh 6:40; 8:32; 16:8-11; 17:3; Act 16:14-15; Rom 1:16-17; 3:26; 6:17,21; 7:6; 1Co 2:10-12; 2Co 4:2-6; Eph 1:13; Phi 3:7-8; 2Th 2:13-14; Heb 9:14; 1Jo 5:20]

4. Faith is not a condition of or prerequisite to salvation; instead, faith believes that Jesus Christ alone met all the conditions for salvation. Faith is the instrument through which a believer receives the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ and is justified. No man is justified before God by works. Salvation by grace alone through faith alone is diametrically opposed to salvation by works. Scripture rejects the lie that man is able to keep the law of God or even a mere summary of the law as a means of gaining God's favor, let alone that he is able to obey the law beyond what God requires. [Isa 45:24-25; 51:5; Luk 17:10; Joh 1:12-13; 5:24; 6:29; Act 13:39; Rom 3:20-28; 4:1-5,14-25; 5:1; 9:16,30-33; 11:6; Gal 2:16; 3:6-12; 5:2-6; Eph 2:8-9; Phi 3:9; Heb 11:4,7]

5. When God regenerates and converts a sinner, indwelling sin is not totally removed from a believer. A believer continues to sin against God all the days of his life, and he continues to be ashamed of and to repent of his sin. But a believer's sin in no way forfeits his interest in Jesus Christ nor annuls God's covenant with him. Scripture rejects the lie that man may be freed from indwelling sin in this life; anyone who says he has no sin is an unbeliever. [1Ki 8:46; Psa 32:5; 37:24; 38:18; 41:4; 69:5; 130:3; Rom 7:14-25; Jam 5:16; 1Jo 1:8-10]

6. God gives every believer assurance of salvation. The believer's assurance does not lie in his obedience to the law, his continued repentance, or anything else but in the sure and certain promise of God through the work of Jesus Christ alone received by faith. [2Sa 23:5; Psa 5:11; 9:10; 32:10; 34:22; 62:1-2,5-7; 64:10; 125:1; 130:7-8; 147:11; Isa 26:3; 32:17; Jer 17:7-8; Nah 1:7; Rom 5:1; 8:15-16,33-39; 9:33; 2Co 1:18-22; Eph 3:12; Phi 1:6; Col 2:2; 1Th 1:5; 2Ti 1:12; Heb 6:11,16-19; 10:22; 11:1; Rev 5:9]

D. Preservation

1. When God saves a person, He preserves that person from ever returning to a state of lostness and from ever being punished in hell. [Psa 31:23; 37:24,28; 55:22; 66:9; 121:3-8; Pro 2:7-8; Jer 32:39-40; Joh 6:40; 10:28-29; Rom 8:30-39; Eph 1:13-14; Phi 1:6; 2Th 3:3; 2Ti 1:12; 4:18; 1Pe 1:3-5; Jud 24]

2. There are sins that God, in His sovereign preserving grace, keeps His people from committing. Any sin that God says proves lostness is, by definition, a sin that a believer cannot commit, even temporarily. These include believing in a false gospel, confessing belief in a false gospel, and speaking peace to one who brings a false gospel. [Jer 8:11; Mat 7:18; 24:24; Mar 16:16; Luk 6:45; Rom 10:3; Gal 1:8-10; 1Jo 1:8,10; 2:22-23; 2 Joh 9-11]

3. Those who have professed belief in the gospel but later show themselves to be unregenerate did not lose their salvation. Instead, they show that they were never saved. [Joh 6:64-65; Heb 6:4-6; 1Jo 2:19]

E. Judging

1. God requires of His people that they love and fellowship with each other. Love of the brothers in Jesus Christ is an inevitable fruit of salvation. [Psa 101:6; 133:1; Joh 13:34-35; 17:20-21; Gal 6:10; Phi 1:27; 2:2-4; 3:16; 1Jo 1:7; 2:9-11; 3:11,14-16,23; 4:7,11,20-21; 5:1]

2. One of the main proofs that believers love their brothers in Jesus Christ is that they do not speak peace to their brothers' enemies. They obey God's command to separate themselves from the world and false Christians. [Exo 34:15-16; Deu 13:1-3; Psa 1:1; 26:4-5; 101:3-8; Pro 4:14-15; 9:6; Joh 15:19; Rom 16:17-18; 1Co 5:11; 10:21; 2Co 6:14-18; Eph 5:7-12; 1Ti 6:3-5; 2Ti 3:5; 1Jo 2:15-16; 2Jo 10-11; Rev 18:4]

3. For these reasons, as well as to witness the gospel to the lost, it is necessary for believers to make judgments concerning who is unregenerate (including who are false Christians) and who is regenerate. The standard by which believers are to make these judgments is whether or not the person being considered believes the gospel. [Isa 8:20; 45:20; Mat 7:15-20; Mar 16:16; Luk 6:43-45; Joh 7:24; Rom 10:1-3; 1Co 5:11-12; Ga1 1:8-9; 1Jo 4:1,6; 2Jo 9]

4. Some people may show by their lawless way of life that they do not believe the gospel, but no one can demonstrate by his law-keeping that he believes the gospel; for there are many whose lives appear to conform to the law of God who are yet unregenerate. Therefore, let no man be judged by his reputation, good works, sufferings, appearance, or any other standard but the gospel. [1Sa 16:7; Mat 7:21-23; 23:25-28; Mar 16:16; Luk 18:11-12; Rom 1:21-2:2; 10:1-3; 1Co 6:9-10; 2Co 11:13-15; Gal 1:8-9; 6:14-16; 2Th 2:12]

5. Those who refuse to judge by this standard alone, preferring instead to judge by reputation, appearance, religious zeal and dedication, or a false gospel, show that they place no value on the gospel and thus show themselves to be unregenerate. All who consider at least some believers in a false gospel (e.g., believers in universal atonement) to be their brothers in Jesus Christ are unregenerate. [Deu 29:19; Pro 17:15; Isa 5:20; Jer 8:10-12; 1Co 13:6; 1Th 5:3; 2Jo 11]