Elder Wm. Doyal Thomas
Pastor - Philadelphia
Decatur , Alabama
ear, 0 ye heavens, and I Will speak; and hear, 0 earth, the
words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall
distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as
the showers upon the grass: Because I will publish the name of the LORD:
ascribe ye greatness unto our God". (Deut. 32:1-3)
According to the acknowledged principles
of interpretation, the meaning and usage of a word or precept,
as it appears in Holy Writ on its first instance, is usually the
meaning and usage of that word or precept when later appearing. Especially
is this seen to be true and evident when correct hermeneutics is applied
to the study of the subject under consideration. It is equally true also
in other instances.
Hermeneutics, as defined in Webster's
New Twentieth Century Dictionary, Unabridged, means,
"The science of interpretation, or of finding the meaning of an author's
words and phrases, and of explaining it to others; exegesis;
particularly applied to the interpretation of the Scriptures". We ascribe
to this definition, and apply it to the subject before us at this time,
as we examine THE DOCTRINE OF GRACE.
The word, doctrine, means, teaching; that which is taught. Thus,
the Holy Spirit led Moses to use the Hebrew word that describes His intent
and meaning so that those who have read and heard the text (Deut. 32:1-3)
would be able to understand that God, when He first used the word "doctrine"
verse 2) intended
to teach His people the "name of the LORD", (verse 3) and that having
been taught of God, they would then be able to "ascribe ye greatness
unto our God". (verse 3)
Proper hermeneutics and honest exegesis requires of us all, then, to diligently
and prayerfully seek to understand the intent and purpose of the Holy Spirit
as He directed the use of this word, "doctrine" for the first
time that Moses was led to employ it in his discourse on that subject.
Did He understand language and the proper application thereof? Omniscience
says that He did, and does, even down to this present "enlightened age".
Omniscience says that He will maintain that meaning and usage, for better,
or more "correct" definition will never be found. Who among men would darequestion
or challenge Omniscience? Yet, many do, to their everlasting shame and
loss. As this text is carefully and prayerfully studied, the student
of God's word; the student of God's teaching brought to a better
understanding of who God really is, and what God would have His creature
(man) to know of Him, and how they may best fulfill His desire
for their lives. God is teaching us something! What is it thatGod
is teaching?"I will publish the name of the LORD..."; tells us what God
Here is, then, an expression of God's will; of God's purpose in this
particular instance. God is, in fact, announcing that what man needs to
know in order to satisfy the purpose, or end that God has in view, He will
be the One who teaches him. God will teach man "doctrine".
Surely, we (God's people) should know that sin has rendered us incapable,
from within our own strength, intellect, or resources, of knowing what
He requires of us. Surely, the declaration of God concerning the
depravity of man is clear, and the actions of man confirms this dreadful
reality. Surely, there can be no doubt that man, in Adam, has become totally
corrupt in his mind, and in his heart, and in his will. Who can deny this
Now, we must be made to realize that if, in this terribly sinful
and ruined state, we are ever to know the "name of the LORD", then we must
be taught that Name, and instructed in that truth. Our own natural, finite,
corrupted, and darkened minds could never, of themselves,
find out who God is, beyond hearing of Him from an historical,
academic, or rhetorical sense. "Canst thou by searching
find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?" (Job
11:7). "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit
of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither
can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned". (I Cor. 2:14).
As I grow older, both chronologically and spiritually, I see that I, and
others have failed to learn who God is. I have failed to properly
and prayerfully apply myself to the study of God's word. I have been, and
continue to be but a mere babe, for I have not learned what I should have
learned, nor have I applied that which I have
been taught in order to gain the greatest degree of growth in the things
I pray God in my own behalf, and in your behalf, that He would be pleased
to enable, yea, even to positively cause us to be completely submissive
to His will for our lives; to be constrained
by His Spirit to follow Him without question
or reservation, under all circumstances, at all times.
Beloved, isn't' t it true that you and I are prone to always want
to hold in reserve, something? Don't we, humanly and foolishly imagine
that we would loose our own personality and identity were we to surrender
"everything" to another, even to God? Come on, now. You know that
this is true. You know that we are all reluctant to put our all upon the
altar of service and dedication to Him and to His cause. You know that
I'm speaking the truth, even though I too am included in this awful failure
to trust God as He desires. 0, to my shame, I am guilty
of lack of trust; of little faith, even though God has promised to care
for me, and for my every need.
In the matter of human relations, it is somewhat understandable that one
mortal does not see any particular advantage in giving oneself over, completely,
to another. In fact, one sees just the opposite; that is, a great "disadvantage"
is sure to be our portion were we to be totally submissive to the will,
pleasure, and direction of another. One becomes most vulnerable
when one is under the dominance of another. Not because a position of submission
is, of itself, detrimental to our own well being, but the potential danger
lies in the lack of perfection of character that is possessed by the one
to whom we submit. That's why there is, always, a degree of discord among
mortals, even in our best state, for NO ONE is willing to be totally
submissive to another.
But, my dear reader, God is Perfection, and to be totally given over to
His will is to our greatest advantage. We could never, never, ever
be in a better and more pleasingly advantageous position than to be absolutely
consecrated to Him, in all things. We could never find a safer, nor
a more pleasant place than to be by His side.
Does He always do right? Is it possible for God, who IS Perfection,
to be desirous of bringing, or allowing, harm to be brought to His children
for whom He has purposed to redeem, seeing that He has, from all eternity,
set His love and affection upon
so as to get glory unto Himself, and to render good unto them?
"The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee
with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness
have I drawn thee". (Jer. 31:3). Please
take note: God has set His love upon a particular people from eternity.
He did not begin to love them at some point in time, but before they were,
either actually, or physically a manifestation of life. It was from
eternity, even before Adam, and before others were seen, semenially,
in the loins of Adam that God loved His people.
And why did God set His love upon them? From the God side (if such language
is appropriate), He set His love upon them sovereignly, because He chose
to do so. From the human side, He did so for their good. God intended,
or purposed, His own glory, and their good. God intended to do them good!
Did He send His Son, in time, but in full accord with His consummately
wise and eternal counsel, to die in their stead?
Did He purpose their salvation, and so designate
His Son as Surety, to be the Propitiation (satisfaction) for their sins,
so that it would rightly be demonstrated that He is Just, and the
Justifier of those who come unto God by Him? "He that spared not
his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him
also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of
God's elect? It is God that justifieth". (Rom. 8:32-33).
I submit unto you that the very best of all possible positions for one
to occupy is the position of submission to
God. And to be submissive to God means being
submissive to His ways. God's ways are an expression of Himself; of His
character. God's ways are, in actuality, an expression of who He
is. Do you know who God is? Do I know who God is? I tell you, and myself
also, that to the degree of our submission to Him and to His ways, to that
same, exact degree, and no more, do we truly know who He is! To that same
degree and no more.
Do not fool yourself, nor seek to fool others by declaring,
"I know who God is, BUT, I will not submit to His ways". That is an
untruth, and a foolish delusion. That is not factual, but only imagined
knowledge. It is a very clumsy attempt to pacify
oneself and to deceive others. "Be not deceived,
God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall
he also reap". (Gal. 6:7).
I have heard expressions such as the following all my life, and have in
times past been agreeable to the postulate that has been presented: "I
read those words in the Bible, BUT, I have not been convicted in my heart,
THEREFORE, to submit to them would be hypocritical". And then, in
an obvious expression of self-righteous pride, the one so speaking, lifts
up their bodily posture, and with feigned humility, says, "And God hates
hypocritical behavior". The heart of man is so desperately wicked, and
the mind so darkened until those who speak thusly are not even aware that
they cannot trust their heart. "I've not been convicted IN MY HEART...".
Oh, how foolish is this statement, and how foolish are those who persist
reasoning in this fashion.
It is true that God is never pleased with hypocritical behavior. But it
is also and everlastingly true that God requires of His creatures that
they obey Him. In fact, God's doctrine (teaching) is that the whole duty
of man is to be obedient unto God. To be obedient unto God! That is my
duty, and that is your duty. And God has exercised His sovereign prerogative
in assigning all His creatures that duty. None are excused, even in the
"extenuating" circumstance of never having been "convicted in my heart"
concerning any, or every particular doctrine (teaching) of
God. Whatever, without exception, God has commanded, I am responsible
to do. Without exception! THAT is the doctrine (teaching) of God. Are you
obedient? Am I obedient? Why not? Why not?
Now, concerning the word "Grace", as shown in the title of this message,
"The Doctrine of Grace", we draw your attention to these words, and ask
that you consider carefully what is being presented to you. May God enable
us all to learn.
Using the definition of the word "grace" as stated in
the same dictionary referred to in the previous case of "doctrine" we find:
"In a theological sense, (a) the free unmerited love and favor of God;
(b) divine influence or the influence of the Spirit in renewing the heart
and restraining from sin; (c) a state of reconciliation to God, etc". The
"etc." includes further factors and/or benefits of grace, but these, (a),
(b), and (c) provide for our needs in coming to a good and working knowledge
term "grace". Thus, the "Doctrine (teaching) of Grace" is established and
defined for our learning and growth in the word and ways of God.
When we consider who we are, because of sin, we see somewhat of our desperate
need. When we are told by God that "There is none righteous, no, not one...
, we are seen in the position that God
says we occupy. And while we are correctly
and justifiably said to be alienated from God, from His ways, and from
His righteousness, we find ourselves in a horrible, hopeless,
and helpless state. And except someone intervene in our behalf, we are
eternally doomed to a separation from God, and to a state of being recipients
of the judgment, wrath, and punishment of a Holy God. BUT, God has intervened,
and He has done so in grace, through the Person and work of His own Son,
the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord! He HAS intervened!
"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". (Eph.
2:8-9). "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but
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; That being justified by his grace, we should
be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life". (Titus 3:5-7).
"Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me
his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according
to the power of God; 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," (II Tim. 1:8-9).
These, and numerous other texts of Scripture confirm that God has
purposed to deal with His loved ones in free, unmerited favor, and to do
so in a sovereign manner, freely, and apart from
external constraint or outside influence. Thus, the
term sovereign grace" is an accurate expression of what God's people are
made recipients of, both now and forever. We are trophies of God's sovereign
It is my intent, and by God's permissive and enabling will, to present
a series of
articles for publication in The Baptist Herald relative to this overall
subject, "THE DOCTRINE OF GRACE". I plan to set forth what I trust will
be meaningful material that will be supportive of, and declarative of the
five cardinal points of grace, as God's word declares them to be. Please
pray for me as I seek His face in my studies, and in my preparations. When
these articles are presented, please study them carefully, and ask those
whom you love and care for to study them with you. And may "greatness be
ascribed unto our God".
It has become customary and accepted that the teaching of the depravity
of Adam's race; the election, by God, of some men unto salvation; the restrictive
intent of the atoning blood that was shed by Christ; the sureness and certainty
of the Holy Spirit to call those elect ones; and the preservation and perseverance
of those chosen and called ones be labeled "The Doctrines (plural) of Grace",
or, "The Five Points of Calvinism". The colloquialism,
"The TULIP Doctrines" needs to be examined,
with careful attention being paid to the matter of God's decrees
being, in actuality, God's decree; or God's purposes,
being, in actuality, God's purpose; or
God's doctrines being, in actuality, God's doctrine.
I do not want to appear to be "nit-picking", or wise-acreing", or
"petty" in my presentation of what I consider to be the teaching of God,
and consequently, the teaching of His word. Knowing that
God's word is but His declaration concerning Himself, it seems
to me to be proper conduct for His people to study Him and His word with
the realization the He is UNITY, or SINGULARITY in all aspects, with no
plurality suggested nor declared. I believe that to carelessly slip into
the pattern of thinking that allows us to imagine that there is plurality
in God is simply to exhibit our own depravity.
We have read and heard much lengthy,
and "in-depth" discussion of the theologically
diverse positions known as "sub-lapsarianism, infra-lapsarianism,
and supra-lapsarianism, and all the ramifications and confusion that
results therefrom. And I too have often participated in these discussions,
and have publicly put my own position
on the line relative to these three possible positions, as men view
the matters they discuss.
Let me state at this point that, though there appears to be logic connected
with such discussions, as we attempt to "explain" God, or rationalize His
"position", truth tells us that we are not reasoning well, nor rightly
when we lapse into such thinking and speaking. What we are doing is demonstrating
our inherent depravity. What we are doing is showing our own juvenile theology
and all its misconceptions.
God has never, never, ever been required, nor has He chosen to weigh and
measure every (or any) of His counsel, purpose, decree, or action. God,
being omniscient, has never, never, ever learned
anything, nor has He mis-interpreted anything.
Only depravity has done those things. Only depravity.
With God, His counsels are, in truth, only His counsel, in the singular,
because there is no depravity of faculties present in His Being,
nor in His acting. His purposes are just His purpose. His decrees
are just His decree. His doctrines are just His doctrine, seeing
that the beginning, the ending, and all interim matters are
unity. There is but oneness and uniformity in all that God is, and He is
Perfection, without increase or decrease. He is God. He is THAT I AM!
By His grace, we purpose to present a series of articles that we
pray will correctly put forth "The Doctrine of Grace". These articles will
seek to declare the teaching of God on the matters of man's total depravity;
on the election or choosing, by God, of some men unto
salvation; on the particularly singular design of
the atonement; on the efficacious work of God the Holy Spirit in
calling His elect to Himself; and on His preservation of them that causes
them to persevere until He brings matters to complete consummation.
These articles will suggest, yea, will even declare that all this is a
matter that God has, from eternity known. It is our duty therefore,
to seek His divine enablement in our study and presentation of His message.
It is our duty to seek to proclaim His teaching as faithfully
as He would be pleased with, and with suchveracity
as He would accept. We must be faithful and true if we are to hear Him
say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant . And we long to hear those
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ,
hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath
both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not
this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him
God speed". (II John 9-10).
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the
man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works". (II
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