Former Atheist Testifies How Jesus Saved Her by Giving Her the Gift of Faith
That former atheist was “born [again], not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13) Saving faith comes by revelation from God.
Below is an excerpt from What Shall I Do to Inherit Eternal Life?, by Edward Hendrie.
Salvation By Grace Through Faith
It is the work of the Lord Jesus Christ to save. The work of the church is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are saved by the grace of God alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
Faith can only come by hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Ephesians 1:1-2:22. That is where the church comes in. “Go ye into the all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15. The mission of the church is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ; it is through faith in Jesus that those who hear the gospel are saved. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:16. The church is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The key then is to accurately preach the gospel. That is to preach God’s word. We must be accurate in what is preached.
In Romans chapter 9 God clearly states that man’s enslaved will is irrelevant to salvation. Salvation is completely an act of mercy by God. “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” Romans 9:16. Salvation is completely within the sovereign choice of God. He chooses some for salvation and others for damnation. He mercifully softens the heart of those whom he has chosen for salvation so that they can respond to the gospel call, and he hardens the heart of those whom he has damned so that they will not respond to the gospel. “Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” Romans 9:18.
Jesus uses the parable of the sower in Luke 8:4-17 to illustrate his sovereign grace. In the parable he explains that the seed (the word of God) is sown, and only those whose hearts are honest and good hear the gospel and bring forth the fruit of salvation. Notice that Jesus gives a hint at what it means to have an honest and good heart. At the end of the parable he cried: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 8:8. What did Jesus mean by that? He explained to his disciples: “Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.” Luke 8:10. Those who are not saved are not saved because they have not been given spiritual ears to hear the gospel. God has stopped their ears to the truth of the gospel. Jesus made clear that one purpose of the parables is to conceal the spiritual truths of the gospel from those who have been chosen for damnation. God is the one that makes a heart honest and good and able to hear and believe the gospel. God is the husbandman who tills the soil of men’s hearts and makes it soft to receive the gospel. The gospel is the means of bringing the hearer to a knowledge of Jesus Christ. Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ by the grace of God.
And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. (Luke 8:4-17)
Romans chapter 10 explains that one cannot be saved unless one believes in Jesus. One cannot believe unless one hears the gospel. One cannot hear the gospel unless God sends someone to preach the gospel, and God opens the hearer’s spiritual ears to hear the gospel. Those who do not believe do not believe because God has not chosen them for salvation: “God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear; unto this day.” Romans 11:8. Those who are saved are saved according to God’s election by his sovereign grace. “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.” Romans 11:5.
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Hebrews 13:8. God is sovereign, and as always, will continue to exercise his sovereignty in electing his chosen. “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 7:6. God has chosen his church, which is spiritual Israel. See Galatians 3:28-29, 6:16.
It is not for a man of his own free will to choose. Election is completely within the province of God. It is not for man to determine who is chosen by God. It is our responsibility, indeed our duty, to preach the gospel and allow that spiritual seed of God’s word to find the soil prepared by God for salvation.
God causes those whom he has chosen for salvation to come in faith to him. “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.” Psalms 65:4. God uses his gospel as his means of drawing his elect. In Acts chapter 2, Peter explained the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In that passage we see how God uses his gospel to call those whom he has chosen for salvation. The free will promoters often quote Acts 2:21 out of context to deceive their followers that salvation is entirely a free will decision of man. That passage states: “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:21) When read in context, however, we find out that it is only those God has chosen for salvation who will understand the gospel and call on the name of the Lord and be saved. “[T]he Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47)
The church must preach not just the faith in Jesus but also the faith of Jesus. Jesus is “the author and finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2. That means that Jesus is the source of saving faith, and Jesus sees that faith to its completion. One cannot have faith in Jesus Christ without God giving one the faith of Jesus Christ. “[T]he scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” Galatians 3:22. See also Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16; Revelation 14:12; Ephesians 3:12; Philippians 3:9. It is the Holy Spirit that quickens those that are dead in sin so that they can believe in Jesus. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Ephesians 2:1.
It is Jesus who brings forth the fruit of salvation from his holy gospel. “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) Jesus saved us and called us with a holy calling unto salvation according to his purpose and grace. “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.” 2 Timothy 1:9.
Many churches think that it is their job to make the hard sell and persuade a person to “get saved.” That is not the proper function of the church. The church is to spread the love of the gospel and let that seed germinate in the heart as God wills. It is truly Jesus who saves, and no one else. All glory goes to Jesus Christ. Jesus had this to say to the Pharisees who were doing the same thing that many churches are doing today:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Matthew 23:15.
Even the language used by many in the Christian community reveals their mistaken view of salvation as being based upon free will. It is often asked: “when did you get saved?” It is telling that the subject of the question is not Jesus, but rather the person who “got saved.” A person doesn’t “get saved” as though going to the store to “get milk.” The question should be “when did Jesus save you?”
The Lord Jesus Christ reaches down from heaven and saves the individual. We receive salvation from Jesus, who gives it to us; we don’t go and get it. Language like “getting saved” suggests that we have some active role in our salvation. In fact, Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2. That means that Jesus is the originator of our faith and he sees the faith to its culmination, which is salvation. There is no room between author and finisher for the free will of man. Man is not the co-author of his faith. Jesus alone authors the faith of a believer. Faith is truly and completely a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8.
God draws us to him and brings us to the point where we submit to him and are born again. John 6:34-47. Jesus is deserving of all glory and honor for our salvation; to claim that we had some part through our supposed free will decision robs God of his glory and honor. See Isaiah 42:8; 1 Timothy 1:17; Revelation 4:11.
The modern mode of evangelism assumes that man is smart enough of his own free will to believe in Jesus. That is not dissimilar from the prideful Pharisee in Luke 18. After telling the parable of the prideful Pharisee, the rich ruler approaches Jesus with his question in Luke 18; then Jesus exposes the lie of the free will nonsense as he had just explained in the parable of the prideful Pharisee.
God saves. God must change your heart. As Jesus said, a man must be born again. John 3:3. No man is born of himself. One must be born of God. Salvation is not by the will of man. “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13. God must draw you. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44. Unless God draws a man, he will have no desire to be a Christian.
Man by nature is spiritually dead. God must quicken you, that is, make you spiritually alive. Ephesians 2:1-10. You then become a new spiritual creation through God’s Holy Spirit.
There is no way that a man would accept the things written in the Holy Bible unless God has first opened his heart to the spiritual truths in the Bible. If one accepts that Jesus Christ is Lord God, the creator of the universe who reigns from heaven, he should submit completely to his authority. Ask the Lord in prayer to help you, and he will help you. “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” Mark 9:24.
Understand this simple truth, that if you ask Jesus to save you, he will. You will not ask him, indeed you cannot, unless God draws you and gives you the ability to do so. He will then give you the gift of the Holy Spirit. Pray to Jesus for salvation.
The Lord draws near to those whose heart the Lord has made contrite over their sin; God then saves them. While the face of God is against those that do evil, God’s ears are always open to the cry of his elect.
The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Psalms 34:15-18)
God drew the rich ruler in Luke 18 to Jesus, to ask him how to inherit eternal life. Even the question reveals God’s leading; the rich ruler asked him what he must do to “inherit” eternal life. God gave him the understanding that eternal life is “inherited” and not “earned.”
The very words used by the rich ruler to ask the question of Jesus were from God. Indeed, God has made it clear that “[t]he preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.” (Proverbs 16:1) Why? Because “[t]he LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” (Proverbs 16:4)
When God states in Philippians 2:12 that we should “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” he means that it is he who is moving the will of man to do all that is necessary for salvation, according to God’s will and pleasure. We know that because in the very next passage after telling us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, God explains that the working out of salvation is being done by God himself. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)
The salvation that is worked out is worked out according to God’s good pleasure. Most think that man is a free agent and is acting in accordance with his own will and pleasure, but in fact it is God who is working in the believer to will and to do of God’s good pleasure. How does God work in the believer? The Holy Ghost indwells the believer. 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 John 4:16.
When the rich ruler asked Jesus what he shall do to “inherit” eternal life, that is the question God wanted to be asked and answered. Jesus did not correct or rephrase the question. That is because God wants us to know that eternal life is inherited by his children. An inheritance is not earned, it is granted as a matter of grace by a testator after his death. Jesus has given his children an inheritance of eternal life by his death on the cross as memorialized in his Old and New Testament. “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:7) God’s elect will inherit the kingdom of God. Their inheritance was planned before God created the world. “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:34.
God’s guidance of the rich ruler to ask Jesus that most important of all questions is just one example of God’s sovereign rule over the events of man. God does what he pleases in heaven and on earth. “Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.” (Psalms 135:6) God states that even the heart of the king is under the control of the Lord’s will. “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1) Most men do not understand that their steps are not under their own direction. “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 10:23. Who directs the steps of men? God gives us the answer: “Man’s goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?” Proverbs 20:24.
In 1 Samuel, chapter 9, God gives an example of how God determines the very steps of men without them even understanding that it is God who is guiding them. In 1 Samuel 9, Saul and his servant are searching far and wide for Kish’s (Saul’s father’s) lost asses. Saul was not able to find the asses and decided to return to his father. Saul’s servant, however, suggested that they visit Samuel the prophet in a nearby city to ask his advice. Neither Saul nor his servant had ever met Samuel before. In fact, the servant had only heard of Samuel’s reputation and referred to him not as Samuel, but as “a man of God.” Saul agrees to seek out the prophet. See 1 Samuel 9:5-10. Saul and his servant were able to find Samuel. From Saul’s and his servant’s perspectives, it seemed to them that they were making free and independent decisions. However, when we read further in 1 Samuel 9, we find that it was God who had guided Saul to seek out Samuel. God had told Samuel the day before Saul and his servant ever decided to seek out Samuel that he would “send” Saul to him.
Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying, To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him to be captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me. And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people. 1 Samuel 9:15-17.
Another example of God’s sovereign control over events in this world is Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Judas betrayed Jesus as prophesied by God hundreds of years earlier. Jesus stated, while praying to God the Father: “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (John 17:12)
The betrayal of Jesus by Judas was planned by God. In Jeremiah we read a prophecy written approximately 600 years before the betrayal of Jesus by Judas: “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalms 41:9) Jesus, referring to the prophecy in Jeremiah, told the apostles: “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.” (John 13:18)
Jesus knew Judas would betray him: “For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.” (John 13:11) Judas had no more a free will in the matter than a pencil has a free will to write. Judas, like the pencil, was an instrument completely under God’s control.
God did not leave our salvation to the chance that Judas might not betray Jesus. God is love. 1 John 4:8. It would be the very antithesis of love to leave our salvation to chance. God is not a gambler.
Judas was preordained by God to betray Jesus. Judas had no choice in the matter. God predicted what Judas would do hundreds of years before he did it and then predicted it to his apostles moments before it happened. Jesus then personally gave Judas orders to hurry up and betray him. Judas could not resist the will of God.
Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. (John 13:26-27)
Not only did Judas not have a free will to choose whether to betray Jesus, but every single act of Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Jews, and the Romans was preordained and orchestrated by the sovereign God of Heaven. “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” (Acts 4:27-28)
Read what happened in John 18 when Judas came with the chief priests, the pharisees and the band of soldiers to arrest Jesus. Jesus put them all on their backs. He did that to demonstrate to us that he was in complete control of the situation and could have stopped his arrest and crucifixion at any time if he so wished. However, God predestinated Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, and it happened exactly as God planned it.
Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. (John 18:3-6)
God placed his hand on Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Jews, and the Romans and moved them to commit the evil act of crucifying an innocent man, Jesus Christ.
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. Acts 2:22-24.
Pilate tried to tell Jesus he had complete freedom to crucify him or set him free. Jesus contradicted him and told Pilate that he could have no power over him to do either, unless God in heaven granted him the power. God was in complete control of the situation. The crucifixion of Christ was done according as God willed and preordained it to be done.
Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. (John 19:10-11 AV)
Just as God was not a passive observer over the crucifixion of Jesus, which made our salvation possible, so also he is not a passive observer in our faith that is necessary for our salvation. God has preordained to save his elect and actively saves and preserves his elect forever. “The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.” (Psalms 121:8)
We know that the rich ruler was ultimately saved, which was manifested at some time after he spoke with Jesus, because the bible says “Jesus beholding him loved him.” Mark 10:21. If Jesus loved the rich ruler, that means that the man was at some point saved. Clearly his salvation was not manifested when he walked away from Jesus, but his spiritual rebirth certainly came later. If Jesus loves someone, he will be saved. God will draw him to Jesus; all who are drawn to Jesus will find salvation. (John 6:44)
And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:5-13)
Faith comes from God; it is a gift. God will shower you with his merciful grace, if you ask him. You must humble yourself before almighty God and ask for his mercy and grace. The only way that you can come to Christ is if he draws you and causes you to ask him to save you. John 6:44. “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.” (Psalms 65:4)