Biblical Doctrine, Plainly Stated

By William S. Plumer, 1875


I. We have seen that man is by nature ruined. The Bible says he is lost. Matt. 15:24; Luke 19:10; 2 Cor. 4:3. Men are sinners, wicked, ungodly, unrighteous, corrupt, deceitful, vile, ungrateful. The Bible calls them dross, Psalm 119:119; reprobate silver, that is, silver rejected after trial, Jer. 6:30; they are given over to a reprobate mind, Romans 1:28; they are the children of the wicked one, and his lusts will they do, John 8:44; they are the slaves of iniquity, Romans 6:20; they are in error, Jas. 5:20; in darkness, 1 John 2:11; they are out of the way, Romans 3:12; Heb. 5:2.

II. Lost as men are, they may yet be saved. There is a way of life, a door of hope, a scheme of mercy, a plan of salvation. Jesus came into the world on the very errand of saving the lost. Matt. 18:11. Christ was anointed and set apart to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound. God's device of mercy for rescuing the lost is set forth by various terms. Of these perhaps none is more fit than that of a covenant, commonly called the covenant of grace. When Jeremiah foretold gospel times, he said: "The time is coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the Lord. "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the Lord. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Jeremiah 31:31-34. This way of presenting the plan of salvation is adopted by Paul also. Heb. 10:16,17.

III. The scheme for saving sinners is wholly from God. He devised it; he executed it; he applies it. So the Scriptures teach: "Salvation belongs unto the Lord." "The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord." "He is the God of our salvation." "He who is our God is the God of salvation." He says, "My own arm brought salvation." "Salvation is of the Lord." Psalm 3:8; 37:39; 65:5; 68:19, 20; Isaiah 63:5; Jonah 2:9. Very careful is God to let us know that there was nothing in us to merit his esteem: "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and will not remember your sins." Isaiah 43:25. Compare Isaiah 48:9. Again, "Thus says the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for my holy name's sake . . . Not for your sakes do I this, says the Lord God, be it known unto you." Ezek. 36:22, 32.

IV. All this love and pity are wholly undeserved. No man has any claim on the score of his own deservings for any good things. On this point the Bible is very clear. It says: "But God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. By grace you are saved! He also raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavens, in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is Godís giftónot from works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:4-9. It is the grace of God that brings salvation. The whole plan is "to the praise of the glory of his grace." Eph. 1:6. Salvation is no debt due to any man. Romans 4:4, 16. Neither is it possible for a creature to have a good standing before God, partly on the ground of personal merit, and partly on the ground of undeserved kindness. The two schemes are entirely inconsistent. So Paul taught: "If by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace; but if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work." Romans 11:6.

V. All this grace is in Christ, and in none else. God has given him "for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and those who sit in darkness out of the prison-house." Isaiah 42:6, 7. Nor has he given any other to the same end and purpose. A great prophet says, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King comes unto you: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an donkey." Zech. 9:9. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us, in the house of his servant David: as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began." Luke 1:69, 70. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12. Jesus himself says, "I am the Door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life: no man comes unto the Father but by me." John 10:9; 14:6.

VI. This plan of salvation meets all the demands of law and justice. He who is at the head of it is the Lord our Righteousness. Jer. 23:6. So that everyone who truly believes on Jesus Christ "shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation." Psalm 24:5. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes. God "has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." 2 Cor. 5:21.

VII. Some deliverances otherwise great are but temporary; but the salvation secured to believers is endless and boundless. "Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: you shall not be ashamed nor confounded, world without end." Isaiah 45:17.

VIII. Another excellence of this whole scheme is that it is freely, urgently, and indiscriminately offered to men, and pressed upon their consideration. All true ministers of the gospel are clothed with salvation. 2 Chron. 6:41; Psalm 132:16. The true heralds of the gospel scheme are described in the most beautiful language of inspired poetry. Isaiah 52:7-9. All sorts of men are called to embrace the gospel. Isaiah 55:1-9.

IX. Surely men ought to rejoice in such mercy as is offered in the gospel. Psalm 35:9; 116:13; Isaiah 25:9. The hope of this salvation is a very important part of the panoply of God. It is the helmet of the Christian soldier. Eph. 6:17; 1 Thess. 5:8.

X. The danger of despising this glorious scheme, this plan of salvation, must be exceedingly great. The error of the Israelites who perished in the wilderness was, that they forsook God and lightly esteemed the Rock of their salvation. Deut. 32:15. Daniel says, "Salvation is far from the wicked; for they seek not your statutes." Psalm 119:155. "He who believes on the Son of God is not condemned; but he who believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God." John 3:18.