Elder Wm. Doyal Thomas
Pastor - Philadelphia Baptist Church
Decatur , Alabama

Part One

    "Give 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 is doing.
    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 truth?
      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 of God.
      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 in 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 of  the 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 grace.
      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 words, soon.
      "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 Tim. 3:16-17).
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