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THE IMPOSSIBLE SALVATION
“But Jesus looked at them and said, With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God” Matthew 19:26 (Amplified Bible).
In Matthew 19:16-26 we find that when a young man came to Jesus Christ and asked Him what deeds he would have to perform to receive eternal life, the reply he received greatly tested his sincerity! Because after some back and forth conversation he was told that for him to have treasure in heaven he would have to sell all that he had and give it to the poor. But that just ruined his day and he “…went away sad (grieved and in much distress), for he had great possessions” (Mt.19:22, Amplified Bible).
Then as an aside to His disciples, the Lord had this to say:
“And Jesus said to His disciples, Truly I say to you, it will be difficult for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go into the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 19:23-24 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
And the next verse tells us how His disciples reacted to that teaching!
“When the disciples heard this, they were utterly puzzled (astonished, bewildered), saying, Who then can be saved [from eternal death]?” Matthew 19:25 (Amplified Bible).
They correctly perceived that the analogy involving “camels and needles” was intended to teach the principle of impossibility. And that stunned them because the Jews believed riches were a clear indication of God’s approval and blessings upon an individual. Therefore, if a rich man could not be saved, who could?
Then in verse 26 (cited above as our subtitle) they were told that salvation was impossible for men, but possible with God.
And since that is the case, let us keep the word “impossible” firmly in mind as we turn our attention to the doctrine of salvation and consider some things the Bible has to say on the subject.
“Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever]. 7 [That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot” Romans 8:6-7 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
The suffix “not” of the word “cannot” is defined as: “in no way: to no degree—Used to express negation, denial, refusal, or prohibition” (Webster’s New Riverside University Dictionary). And even though “cannot” is not generally thought of as being a synonym for “impossible,” it still carries that connotation.
Next, we see the theme the Apostle Paul began in verses 4-7 summarized in verses 8 and 9:
“So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him. 9 But you are not living the life of the flesh, you are living the life of the Spirit, if the [Holy] Spirit of God [really] dwells within you [directs and controls you]. But if anyone does not possess the [Holy] Spirit of Christ, he is none of His [he does not belong to Christ, is not truly a child of God]” Romans 8:8-9 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
So it is in fact impossible for “the natural man” (Paul’s term for an unregenerate individual) to please, satisfy, or be acceptable to God. And that principle carries huge theological implications.
Then to make that bad situation worse, we find another aspect of Paul’s teaching on the subject in the following:
“But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated” 1 Corinthians 2:14 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
Like “cannot,” the word “incapable” also conveys a connotation of impossible because the unregenerate individual does not understand the “gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God.” The Bible is incomprehensible nonsense to them—something Christians who try to discuss spiritual things with unbelievers will quickly discover.
Why is it impossible for them to understand? The Word of God says they are spiritually dead and slaves of Satan:
“But Jesus said to him, Follow Me, and leave the dead [in sin] to bury their own dead” Matthew 8:22 (Amplified Bible).
“And you [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins 2 In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God]” Ephesians 2:1-2 (Amplified Bible).
The Lord’s comment in the Book of
Matthew referred to those who were spiritually dead and in the second passage
cited above the Apostle Paul told the believers at
Also there is something in the Book of Romans that is closely related:
“As it is written, None is righteous, just and truthful and upright and conscientious, no, not one. 11 No one understands [no one intelligently discerns or comprehends]; no one seeks out God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have gone wrong and have become unprofitable and worthless; no one does right, not even one!” Romans 3:10-12 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
What is the first thing Adam and Eve did after they partook of the forbidden fruit? They tried to hide from God and all lost souls from that day until this attempt to do the same, because mankind as a whole has inherited their fallen and depraved nature!
Then we are told it is impossible for anyone to come to Christ unless the Holy Spirit provides the impetus and drags them:
“No one is able to come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me attracts and draws him and gives him the desire to come to Me, and [then] I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day” John 6:44 (Amplified Bible).
“Drags them??” Yes, according to Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word helkyo translated as “draw” means “to drag, literal or figurative.” Man’s sinful nature is strong and will continue to resist God until it is left behind when we as believers receive our glorified bodies at the Rapture of the Church. And as long as we remain in these fallen and depraved bodies, the Holy Spirit will continue to drag us toward the goal of spiritual maturity because progress would be impossible to achieve without His help.
So to summarize what we have covered thus far, the lost man—the unregenerate man—exists in a state of being that is impossible for him to recognize, much less do anything about:
And the only way his spiritual condition could be any worse would be for him to die and, like the rich man of Luke 16, enter the torments of hell!
In some ways his predicament reminds me of what Helen Keller (1880–1968) experienced early in her life. An illness left her blind and deaf at 19 months of age, yet she became a remarkable American author, political activist and lecturer. And the story of how her teacher, Annie Sullivan, managed to break through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language has become known worldwide through the play and film entitled The Miracle Worker.
Several years ago I visited her home in Tuscumbia, Alabama to see the Miracle Worker play performed by local actors—and one thing that immediately struck me was how wild and unruly she was as a child! Her actions mimicked those of an insane person, but of course extreme physical impairments had reduced her to a self-centered quest to satisfy the most basic needs of a human being.
So let us try to put ourselves in her place and imagine what it was like growing up without being able to see or hear anything. If there was any recall of speech it had to have been minimal, thus rendering the process of thinking itself extremely vague and difficult. And if she had not received help the result would doubtless have been a life with precious little, if any, change for the better because it was humanly impossible for her to make any meaningful improvement on her own..
And yet the spiritual situation all humans face at birth is infinitely more daunting because no “Annie Sullivan” can intervene on their behalf and help them out of their predicament. They are spiritually dead and beyond the help of mere mortals—no matter how loving and concerned their intent may be! If a rescue is to be obtained, God must grant it because it is otherwise impossible.
This brings us to the touchy doctrinal point that still evokes heated debate among God’s people: can a lost person make the decision to repent of their sins and “accept” Jesus Christ? The majority opinion today is an unqualified “yes,” but should we not ask ourselves how that is possible in light of their spiritual deadness and enslavement to Satan? In principle they are much worse off than Helen Keller, in that they are not only “blind and deaf” to spiritual verities, but have no sense of “touch, taste or smell” for them either! They are spiritually dead and even hope itself is gone:
“[Remember] that you were at that time separated (living apart) from Christ [excluded from all part in Him], utterly estranged and outlawed from the rights of Israel as a nation, and strangers with no share in the sacred compacts of the [Messianic] promise [with no knowledge of or right in God’s agreements, His covenants]. And you had no hope (no promise); you were in the world without God” Ephesians 2:12 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
Does it not seem reasonable to conclude that God would be pleased if they did choose to repent and receive Christ? But how is that possible when Romans 8:8-9 unequivocally sets forth the fact that they cannot please Him while still in an unregenerate condition and thus devoid of the Holy Spirit?
Did Helen Keller unilaterally choose to “lift herself by her own bootstraps?” No, because at that time she was utterly incapable of making such a decision and her “salvation” required help from an outside source. And I respectfully submit that such is the case with a lost sinner. Repentance and belief are impossible unless God first overturns the curse of spiritual death by regenerating the individual. And yes, I fully realize that sequence is a complete reversal of what most professing Christians believe today (and for most of my life I believed it too, because it is what I was taught), but a close and careful analysis of the Scriptures will reveal the order is in fact correct.
“And when the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified (praised and gave thanks for) the Word of God; and as many as were destined (appointed and ordained) to eternal life believed (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on Jesus as the Christ and their Savior)” Acts 13:48 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
Note that “destined” precedes “believed” and not the other way around. It does not say, (1) “As many as believed (2) were destined to eternal life”—the sequence commonly taught today. In other words, (1) “If you do something (accept Christ) (2) you will receive God’s salvation. But can we not see that “accept” is a verb? Verbs denote action and action denotes work—something the Word of God soundly refutes as being a means of obtaining salvation!
“For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; 9 Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]” Ephesians 2:8-9 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
So in conclusion I must point out there is a wee hint of the bizarre in the notion that one must “accept” Christ to be saved. It is akin to telling a criminal on death row that to be pardoned by the governor they must accept it! Salvation, like a pardon, is an act of grace (unmerited favor) by the Giver and the permission of the otherwise condemned recipient is neither required nor sought. In fact, to do so would be downright ludicrous because of the enormity of the gesture! Then too, it would afford an opportunity for a proud individual to boast about having the final say in the matter: “I wouldn’t let them cram that pardon down my throat, so I made them wait while I thought it over!”
And before you raise the nearly automatic objection about that being a violation of one’s freedom of the will, there is a logical question we need to ponder: since the unregenerate cannot please God, how can their will be truly free? Are not freedom and restriction mutually exclusive?
Also why would the Holy Spirit use the word “dead” (Gk. Nekros) to describe the spiritual condition of the unregenerate—the very same word used to describe the terminal physical condition of Jesus Christ on the cross—unless both were in states of being that were beyond the point where, humanly speaking, “making a decision” could possibly change their status? I submit to you that only the miracle of resurrection can accomplish that feat for those who are dead.
When God raises the dead He regenerates a soul and receives a son! Then and only then is a sinful human rendered capable of understanding the spiritual miracle that has been done for him, so without passing “from death unto life” (Jn.5:24) first, belief is impossible. And with that being the case, belief is actually the result of salvation and not the cause!
What is the big deal, you ask? Saved is saved, regardless of how we got there, right? Well…..not really! Consider these statements and then ask yourself which of the two most honors God:
Think about it.
If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order Kingdom of Antichrist in their daily news.
Finally, we would love to hear from you. You can write us at:
Cutting Edge Ministries, C/O Pastor Ron Riffe
P.O. Box 26
Gordo, AL 35466
You can also E-Mail Pastor Ronald Riffe regarding questions or comments about this article.
God bless you