Commanded to Believe the Gospel

from Glad Tidings, by Abraham Booth

p 182, “If by ‘an awakened sinner’ it is taught that no one is commanded to depend on Christ for pardon and peace unless possessed of a more holy disposition, he must necessarily be more solicitous to find evidence of that prerequisite existing in his own heart, than to understand and believe what the gospel says concerning Christ.”

p 223, “The Scriptures will not permit our concluding that any pious affections are possessed by sinners before they receive the truth and believe in Christ. If we really love and revere God, it is because He first loved us, because there is forgiveness with him, because that love for the elect has been revealed in the glad tidings of reconciliation.”

p 228–”For sensible sinners to think that they dare not and ought not to believe and embrace Christ, till they be more deeply humbled, and do more thoroughly repent of their sins, and be “more fit’ to receive him; this is but a gilded deceit and a trick of a false heart.”

p232–”The apostles describe ungodly persons by their not knowing, not loving, or not possessing the truth. They received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. That they all might be damned who believed not the truth. If God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth…

p 235–”The energy of the Holy Spirit applying the word of reconciliation to their hearts, the truth is believed and their enmity subdued, in the same instant. The gospel is the instrument whereby God brings the person forth in a new birth. We are said to be born of the Spirit, nowhere said to be born of the word, but “I have begotten you THROUGH the word.”

p 238 “According to fatalism, the word of truth having no influence, is of no use in the work or regeneration, the salutary and important change being produced entirely without it…To imagine that a preparation of the mind, merely to receive the truth, is a change so great as to describe the expressions ‘born again’ or ‘born of the Spirit’ or ‘born of God’ is very unwarrantable…It is too hastily assumed that the mind is prepared to receive the light of spiritual knowledge before the truth have any influence on it.”

p 247 “Now the question is: Do the Scriptures lead us to conclude that the mind and the conscience are brought into the new state by an immediate divine energy, without the medium of either the law or the gospel? I think not. It is written: by the law is the knowledge of sin. When the commandment came, sin revived and I died…

p 249 “For an ‘awakened sinner’ to be persuaded to be persuaded that regeneration is effected without the instrumentality of divine truth, is to give an injurious direction to his prayers and expectations. He will pray for something under the notion of ‘regeneration’ in which the knowledge of Christ and a regard to His atonement have no concern…Neglecting the testimony of God concerning Jesus, he will be ready to look inside himself for some impulse to produce the important change.”.

Romans 3:22 –“the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe”.

Romans 4:13–“the promise did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith….

Phil 3:9–“and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that righteousness which comes through faith in Christ.”

Robert Haldane, p194–“there are some who, strongly impressed with the great evil of making faith a work, have plunged into a contrary extreme, as if justification were independent of faith, or as if faith were merely an accidental or unimportant thing in justification. This also is a great error. Faith is as necessary in justification as the sacrifice of Christ itself, but necessary for a different purpose.”

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17 Comments on “Commanded to Believe the Gospel”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    “The entrance of thy word giveth light” — Psalm 119:130.

    “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” — Ephesians 6:17.

    “Is not my word like as fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer, that breaketh the rock in pieces?” — Jeremiah 23:29.

    “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” –John 6:63.

    “In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” — 1 Corinthians 4:15.

    “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” — James 1:18.

    “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” — 1 Peter 1:23.

    “He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” — 2 Thessalonians 2:14.

    “He that received seed into the good ground, is he that heareth the Word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit” — Matthew 13:23.

    “Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” — John 15:3.

    “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” — John 17:17.

    “That they also might be sanctified through the truth” — John 17:19.

    “God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed, from the heart, the model of doctrine into which ye were delivered” — Romans 6:17.

    “The gospel, which is come unto you, as it is in all the world, and bringeth forth fruit” — Colossians 1:5, 6.

    “The word of God, which effectually worketh in you that believe” — 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

    “You have purified yourselves in obeying the truth, through the Spirit” – 1 Peter 1:22

    “The gospel of Christ — is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth” — Romans 1:16.

    “The gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved” — 1 Corinthians 15:1, 2.

    “The word, or doctrine of the cross, is to us who are saved the power of God” — 1 Corinthians 1:18.


    May the Lord be with you and shower you with his blessings.

    I love this!


  3. markmcculley Says:

    There is a before and after, a beginning to believing the gospel. We can’t say: I was born believing it. Nor should we say tht we were born reconciled and justified. Conversion by God and God’s gospel is about first being in Adam and then being out of Adam .Those who were always elect in Christ are in time justified in Christ. The sheep begin to follow the Shepherd and not the voice of strangers. They do not stay where they no longer belong. Ecclesia means– called out, gathered together (here from there), separated by doctrine, to the Christ who is identified by doctrine.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    If we convey the impression that there is a definite, normative pattern to which all conversions must conform, anyone whose experience is different may well lose all assurance of salvation, either because she did not begin where others began or because she never experienced the terrors of the law as others did. We then lose sight of the fact that all that matters is whether we have come to Christ. How we started or why we first set out or by what route we travelled is of no consequence. What matters is that we have come to the Son, not relying on the depths of our own experience, or on the fact that it corresponded to that of others, but on what Christ did for us on Calvary and on what he promises to continue to do through his Holy Spirit. The so-called ‘preparatory work’ can itself become the basis of a dreadful delusion, but the true believer will never have a high view of his own spiritual experience or even of his own conversion narrative. What matters is that he has a high view of Christ.

    There is a danger, too, of linking repentance too exclusively to the law. In the very nature of the case the law by itself can produce only a legal repentance: one in which fear of punishment predominates and in which there is no inducement to return to a heavenly Father. Such a repentance may certainly be an element in the journey to faith, but not an inevitable one. Not all Christians experience it, and not all who do experience it become Christians. In fact, there is no pre-conversion (outside-of-Christ) state from which there is a guaranteed progression to the one place of safety, ‘hid with Christ in God’ (Col. 3:3).

    Evangelical repentance always includes a turning to God, and as that great Puritan compilation, The Marrow of Modern Divinity, insists, it is a result of faith, not a preparation for it. In David’s case, for example, his broken heart (Ps.51:17) comes after God’s declaration of forgiveness (2 Sam. 12:13) and reflects his confidence in God’s mercy and steadfast love (Ps. 51:1). The Shorter Catechism sounds this same note (A. 87): the sinner turns to God not only ‘out of a true sense of his sin’, but also with ‘apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ’. His mercy is there before our repentance; and it is because we have faith in his mercy that we cast ourselves upon it. As Evangelista points out in the Marrow, ‘Sorrow and grief for displeasing God by sin, necessarily argue the love of God; and it is impossible we should ever love God, till by faith we know ourselves loved by him.’ It is that love itself, and our unworthiness of it, that makes us weep bitterly (Lk. 22:62).

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Paul Helm— Most interesting is Andrew Fuller’s Concluding Reflections. Here he seems to qualify his earlier emphasis. He recognizes here that faith cannot be a duty straightforwardly, since the invitations of grace are not founded merely on divine authority, or on God’s goodness, but in particular on God’s mercy and grace.

    ‘Though believing in Christ is a compliance with a duty, yet it is not as a duty, or by way of reward for a virtuous act, that we are said to be justified by it….we must stand accepted in the Beloved”.

    Helm– Even with this vital qualification, is faith as a compliance with a duty a dominant note in the New Testament? Sinners may have a duty to repent but do they, in the same sense, have a duty to believe? Andrew Fuller says that though the Gospel is a message of pure grace it ‘virtually requires’ obedience. But if something virtually requires obedience then it requires obedience

    Suppose that the Queen, In addition to imposing on me and all her subjects the duty to keep the laws that bear her signature, invites me to one of her garden parties (as I once was). You might say that that’s an act of undeserved goodness, not of bare sovereign authority. It follows I have no duty to go to her party Perhaps that was what Christ was stressing in his analogy of the gospel to a marriage feast. . These analogies helps us to see, perhaps, that gracious invitations are different from commands.

    To say that sanctification consists in keeping commands has not quite struck the note and emphasis of the NT. The NT is full of imperatives to the people of God. For example, Paul said to the Ephesians, be renewed in the spirit of your minds. (4.23) But this, it seems to me, is a kind of command that can only be obeyed indirectly. Living in disregard of the commands of God is a sign of failure, but it does not follow that keeping the commands of God is a sign of success.

    If we do certain acts as duties, we feel pressured to do what a part of us, perhaps the whole of us, does not want to do. If, somehow, we want to do them in the core of our person, then, we possess a holy life. . We no longer have any duties. We do the substance of what are duties but not as duties

  6. markmcculley Says:

    want to talk about Mcmahon’s confusion of two ideas. The extent of the atonement and the idea that “the sinner must obtain and understand his subjective experience of the work of Christ for him personally. ”

    I don’t believe that second thing. Most of the people I know who believe that the gospel talks about the extent of the atonement don’t believe that second thing. We know you can’t have an experience of knowing you are elect before you believe the gospel. So we don’t believe that second thing.

    But Mcmahon puts the two things together. Without argument, he simply assumes that if you talk about extent in the gospel, then you will be one of those persons trying to find your election in some experience before you think you can believe the gospel.

  7. John Calvin—“The integrity of the sacrament lies here, that the flesh and blood of Christ are not less truly given to the unworthy than to the elect believers of God; and yet it is true, that just as the rain falling on the hard rock runs away because it cannot penetrate, so the wicked by their hardness repel the grace of God, and prevent it from reaching them…There are some who define the eating of the flesh of Christ, and the drinking of his blood, to be, in one word, nothing more than believing in Christ himself. But Christ seems to me to have intended to teach something more sublime in that noble discourse, in which he recommends the eating of his flesh—viz. that we are quickened by the true partaking of him, which he designated by the terms eating and drinking, lest any one should suppose that the life which we obtain from him is obtained by simple knowledge.”

    Calvin—“For as it is not the sight but the eating of bread that gives nourishment to the body, so the soul must partake of Christ truly and thoroughly, that by his energy it may grow up into spiritual life. According to them, to eat is merely to believe; while I maintain that the flesh of Christ is eaten by believing, because it is made ours by faith, and that that eating is the effect and fruit of faith.
    According to them, eating is faith, whereas it rather seems to me to be a consequence of faith. The difference is little in words, but not little in reality.”

    Calvin–“Although the apostle teaches that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith, no one will interpret that dwelling to be faith All see that it explains the admirable effect of faith, because to faith it is owing that believers have Christ dwelling in them. In this way, the Lord was pleased, by calling himself the bread of life, not only to teach that our salvation is treasured up in faith in his death and resurrection, but also, by virtue of true communication with him, his life passes into us and becomes ours.” Institutes 4:17:5

  8. markmcculley Says:

    Popham and Gadsby are hyper XXIV We believe that the invitations of the Gospel, being spirit and life,* are intended only for those who have been made by the blessed Spirit to feel their lost state as sinners and their need of Christ as their Saviour, and to repent of and forsake their sins. (Isa. 55:1, John 7:37, Prov. 28:13, Matt. 11:28-30, John 6:37.)

    XXVI We deny duty faith and duty repentance – these terms signifying that it is every man’s duty spiritually and savingly to repent and believe (Gen. 6:5, Gen 8:21, Matt. 15:19, Jer. 17:9, John 6:44, John 6:65.

    XXIII Therefore, that for ministers in the present day to address unconverted persons, or indiscriminately all in a mixed congregation, calling upon them savingly to repent, believe, and receive Christ, or perform any other acts dependent upon the new creative power of the Holy Ghost, is, on the one hand, to imply creature power, and, on the other, to deny the doctrine of special redemption.

    XXXIV We believe that any such expressions as convey to the hearers the belief that they possess a certain power to flee to the Saviour, to close in with Christ, to receive Christ, while in an unregenerate state, so that unless they do thus close with Christ, etc., they shall perish, are untrue, and must, therefore, be rejected. And we further believe that we have no Scripture warrant to take the exhortations in the Old Testament intended for the Jews in national covenant with God, and apply them in a spiritual and saving sense to unregenerated men.

    XXXV We believe that there are various degrees of faith, as little faith and great faith (Matt. 6:30, Matt. 15:28), that when a man is quickened by the blessed Spirit, he has faith given to him to know and feel he is a sinner against God (Luke 18:13), and that without a Saviour he must sink in black despair. And we further believe that such a man will be made to cry for mercy, to mourn over and on account of his sins(Matt. 5:4), and, being made to feel that he has no righteousness of his own (Isa. 64:6, Phil. 3:9), to hunger and thirst after Christ’s righteousness being led on by the Spirit until, in the full assurance of faith, he has the Spirit’s witness in his heart that his sins are for ever put away (Rom. 8:16, Eph. 4:30, Heb. 9:12, Heb. 9:26, Heb. 7:27, Heb.10:14); but that the faith is the same in nature as is imparted in his first awakenings, though now grown to the full assurance thereof.

  9. markmcculley Says:

    I John 5: 1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him.

    When a person believes the gospel, that person can know until after he believes, if he is elect and God loves him. Does this mean that this person is still hating God as they believe the gospel? Does this not knowing if he’s elect mean that the person when first believing the gospel is in both Adam and in Christ ( the cat both dead and not dead)? How can a regenerate person be ungodly? How can an unregenerate person believe the gospel? Does this mean that sinner need to become godly in order to believe the gospel? Or does this mean that a person needs to be justified already before they believe the gospel?

    mark’s answer: No, a person who does not yet believe the gospel is not yet justified. Even though they are in Christ by election they are not yet in Christ’s death and not yet legally in Christ.

  10. markmcculley Says:

    the Barthians and the antinomians
    ask us not to think about the assurance of our own salvation
    they say that asking about our own salvation
    distracts our attention from Christ
    the Barthians think everybody is already saved
    and the antinomians say, don’t ask yourself if you believe the gospel
    think instead about the faith of Christ and not about if you have faith in Christ
    since our works are excluded in salvation, preachers say, our faith in Christ is also a work
    so don’t even think about your own faith in Christ
    I am not only talking about Barth
    but all who say faith is faith so faith is not assurance
    preachers say, look to Christ don’t look to yourself
    but end up separating Christ and Christ giving us faith
    though the elect do not receive faith by faith,
    the elect receive both Christ’s death and assurance from Christ’s death
    but some preach justification already for those without faith in the gospel
    preachers say, don’t look to yourself looking to Christ
    look to Christ alone, but without looking at your looking
    preachers is still preaching
    but i don’t know exactly what it means to look to Christ
    while trying hard not to look at yourself looking to Christ
    Christ was there then, I am here now
    does this mean, since i was not there then, I cannot here now look to Christ?
    you were already born saved, they say, before you look, without looking
    so they say to look without looking, faith is faith but not assurance
    preachers explaining why it cannot be explained
    but i have closed my ears
    forget it
    looking to Christ without looking at me looking to Christ????
    Christ, I trust you not only for the salvation of the elect whoever they may be
    Christ, I look to you for MY salvation

  11. markmcculley Says:

    Think about this soundbite—“the gospel is a gift not a command”. This is a case of false alternatives. The gospel is not only about Christ’s death and resurrection but also about the elect receiving Christ’s death and resurrection by God’s imputation and by God’s gift of faith. 1. To obey the command to believe the gospel is a gift from God. 2. The gospel is not only about Christ’s death and resurrection but also about the new birth and faith in the gospel.

  12. markmcculley Says:

    The “righteousness of God” has more than one meaning. But the gospel meaning is the “righteousness from God”. Where God has not given faith in the gospel, God has not yet given the righteousness of God which is Christ’s death imputed.

  13. markmcculley Says:

    George Ella–“Repentance must come first. When God grants repentance, then we may speak of faith in the gospel but not before.”

    John Gill—“The gospel is a pure declaration of grace. The gospel has no command but all promises. ”

    Gill then attempts to escape Acts 17:30 by making it common natural repentance but not gospel repentance. Ella and Gill are both wrong to deny that God commands everyone to believe the gospel.

    John Calvin—Those who think repentance precedes faith instead of flowing from faith as the fruit by the tree (repentance being produced by faith) have never understood the nature of faith.

    Luke 17: 10 “In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, ‘We are good-for-nothing slaves. We have only done our duty.’”

  14. markmcculley Says:

    John 3: 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You MUST be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

    John 3: 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony…. 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so MUST the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that as many as believe in him will have lasting life.

    “must be” does not mean “can be”

    new birth is not commanded but it’s necessary, believing the gospel is both commanded and needed

    I John 3: 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ

  15. markmcculley Says:

    Gadsby and Popham. We believe that the believer’s rule of life is the gospel, not the law of works given to Moses. Some have completely misunderstood this and called it “antinomianism,” but our belief is that the gospel contains all that is included in the law, but is a much higher standard.

    God is sovereign to change God’s laws, so the new covenant law is not the same law as God gave to Abraham and Moses, but this does not ever mean that the gospel is law or that the gospel contains the law or that the law contains the gospel. Those who deny that God has any law commands for Christians are still antinomians. Those who deny that all sinners are commanded to believe the gospel are antinomians

  16. markmcculley Says:

    watch for false alternatives

    such as, God did not choose those who choose to believe, because God chose the elect

    both are true—God chose the elect in Christ and Christ died for only the elect,
    but also all the elect will choose to believe the gospe

    election is not only God selecting for whom Christ died
    election is not only God selecting who will believe the gospel
    election is both
    when Christ died only for the elect, Christ not only died to put away their sins, but also Christ died to obtain faith for all those for whom Christ died
    Christ did not believe the gospel for the elect
    Christ did not believe the gospel instead of the elect
    Christ died for the elect alone so that the elect alone would believe in Christ

    II Corinthians 2: 14 God through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Christ in every place.15 For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are BEING SAVED and among those who ARE PERISHING. 16 To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. And who is competent for this ?

  17. Mark Mcculley Says:

    Dave Adkins–No man on God’s earth has “covenant children”, only the triune God has new covenant children, in that covenant which Christ ratified with His blood or death. These God calls and justifies in time by His Gospel – Rom. 1:16-17 . We cannot consider anybody to be justified children of God until God calls them by His truth and gives them faith to believe on the true Christ, His righteousness imputed being their only hope of salvation O Only God can and does give love of the gospel truth . “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, in order that they be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” II Thess. 2:10-12. Note the “unrighteousness” that people have pleasure in is an unrighteousness that they don’t know is unrighteousness. It is religious, moral unrighteousness they think will recommend them to a Holy God. It rivals Christ’s death imputed and it is an abomination to God, is fruit unto death and will end in death. “knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” II Cor.5:11.

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