By William C. Sexton
Two hundred years ago, (July 4, 1776) the founding fathers of our nation signed the Declaration of Independence and thus gave birth to our nation. That is an important and impressive historical event and is on the mind of many at this time. In the same spirit with that event, I challenge each one who reads this to make a Declaration of Dependence on the Divine Plan of Salvation! In that city of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, the founding fathers said we will no longer be submissive to a king that has oppressed us; rather, we are uniting ourselves as a people, believing that we have the right to Liberty, Life and the Pursuit of happiness-being giving that right by our Creator.
Beloved, allow me to read the words of inspiration, as recorded in Rom. 6:16-18 and make some application of the principle that was operative in the minds of those men two centuries ago: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servant to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey: whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servant of righteousness.” Paul was conscious of the oppression of sin in the lives of these men prior to their transition, and he was reminding them of that fact; before a servant, after a free man!
Two important points, it appears to me, stand out from the above reading: (1) Man has the ability to yield to sin-which is a transgression of God’s law-or yield to righteousness-which is God’s message of freedom; (2) Man is a servant to whom he yields himself!
Paul, earlier in the same book points to two facts: (1) All have sinned (Rom. 3:23); (2) the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). The Romans, however, had been receptive to the gospel message of freedom, which was and is God’s power to save (Rom. 1:16-17), and thus had ceased to be servants of sin and in that process had become “Servants of Righteousness.” Paul was so thankful of that transition; he reminds them at exactly what instant in time the transition had occurred. Likewise, he tells them what had produced the transition; when they had “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” Beloved, in that moment, at that place they had declared themselves to be dependent on the Divine plan of salvation. That is what I have declared; that I am dependent on the Divine Plan to save. That is what I am calling upon all others to do: depend absolutely on the plan recorded in the divine Book, the Bible to save, you, me, and all others.
First, as our founding fathers felt that they had been oppressed by a government that did not properly care for them; likewise, all who would be saved by the plan of God, must feel oppressed by sin as it rules in their lives. The scriptures declare sin to be defective, deceitful, and destructive (Num. 32:23). Moses says, “But if ye will not do so, ye have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out.” God had spoken, and to fail to follow was to be defective-missing the mark of right conduct. It was a sin against the Lord, for He is the ruler of man. Neither could man disobey God and escape the consequences-it would and will find us-if and when we sin; if we fail to come to God and receive forgiveness it will be our eternal ruin (Rev. 20:10-15).
The writer of Hebrews (3:13) says to “exhort one another daily, while it is Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” The same writer tells us (Heb. 11:25) that one may “enjoy the pleasures of sin,” but that such is only “for a season.” As one practices sin, he is hardened and becomes less sensitive to the appeals of right and good. One is inclined, however, to think that his sins are not so bad. Nevertheless, sin kills the soul, regardless of how “bad” or “not-so-bad” one feels about it. He who does not feel the burden of sin, however, is not going to change.
The Lord Jesus, accordingly, points to the “poor in spirit”-they who know that they are bankrupt spiritually-as to whom the “kingdom of God” belong (Matt. 5:3). Likewise, they who “mourn”-evidencing a consciousness of the burden of sin-are the ones who shall be “comforted” (Matt. 5:4). Continuing, He points to those who are “meek,” and “they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness,” as being the ones who fit into His kingdom (Matt. 5:5-12). All of this points to the necessity of one becoming aware of his inadequacy, and then being enlightened of God’s love manifest in sending His Son to die for the sins of man. Then he has to learn of the response that is expected of him and thus respond, as did the Romans (Rom. 6:1-18). Having initially obeyed the “first principles of the oracles of God”, however, one then is to “go on unto perfection,” which requires that one continue to depend on the divine plan (Heb. 6:1-3).
Salvation is by grace on God’s part; but it is by faith on man’s part (Eph. 2:8-9). Many are unwilling to declare their dependence on God’s plan-some in regard to how to become a member of His family and others in regard to remaining “in” the Lord and thus being saved by His blood (Gal. 3:26-27; Jn.15:5-6; 1 Jn. 1:3-7).
He who will not declare his dependence on the Lord’s plan to save him: faith in Jesus as the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), repentance of sin (Lk. 13:5), confession of that faith (Acts 8:37), and baptism in water for the remission of sin (Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4) will be lost! However, he who will not walk “by faith” (2 Cor. 5:7): living an active life-ever being involved in the work of the Lord, (1 Cor. 15:58) living a clean life- keeping himself unspotted from the world (Jas. 1:27) and worshipping in “spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:23-24), and remaining within the limits of the “doctrine of Christ” in all that he does (Col. 3:17; 2 Jn. 9), mill not be saved. He too, will be lost, just as if he had never obeyed any.
Therefore, beloved, I am calling upon all to be dependent on the divine plan-in becoming a Christian, and in remaining a Christian. The divine plan is revealed, recorded, and readable. God has preserved it for you and me. If we are going to save our souls, communicate the message that will save other souls, and make our contribution to society, we must depend solely on the revelation of God.
If we will look closely at the actions of men in providing a substitute for the divine plan, we can see that they are all futile. Also, when we accept something that is not in the New Testament today-in becoming a Christian or in living as a Christian-we are not depending on the divine plan, even though we may be declaring to high heaven that we are.
Beloved, I believe that the greatest need for man today is to declare his dependence on the Divine plan and then demonstrate by his actions that he indeed is dependent! A lot of people make a profession while their actions deny their claims (2 Tim. 3:5; Tit. 1:16). God is not pleased with men who act so contradictorily! We should constantly examine our action to see if we are relying on the Divine plan or if possibly we are relying on our own or on that of another brother or group of brethren. May we ever continue to depend on the Divine plan, declaring, demonstrating in deeds!
Truth Magazine XXI: 15, pp. 231-232
April 14, 1977