Believers believe the gospel.
1 John 5:10-12 ESV
Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
This text tells us that who every one believes in the Son of God (a Christian) has the testimony (the gospel) in himself. Christians are those who believe God because they have/possess the testimony of God concerning Christ. That means that every true believer believes the true gospel–i.e. the gospel that matches up with God’s testimony concerning Christ. This is what it means to be a believer-that you believe God and His testimony concerning His Son Jesus Christ.
What is that revealed testimony? It is the account of scripture concerning Christ, namely, that His substitutionary death on behalf of His people HAS ACTUALLY satisfied the wrath of God against His people. Read the words of Isaiah:
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death,although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:4-12 ESV
This is the gospel of the true believer-the substitutionary atonement of Christ has ACTUALLY and COMPLETELY satisfied the wrath of God against the elect. That God imputed the sins of the elect to Christ, and that Christ bore those sins and their attendant, just punishment as a substitute for the elect. That because Christ was completely successful in His mission (i.e.-His obedience unto death satisfied God), God is just in forgiving the sins of the elect and imputing to them the righteousness of Christ. This is the gospel that every true believer believes. Anyone who claims to be a believer and yet does not believe this gospel is deceived and is still dead in their trespasses and sins.
All of the elect of God will be converted by this particular gospel. All of the elect of God will believe this particular gospel. All of the elect of God will find assurance of salvation in this particular gospel. All of the elect of God will find rest in this particular gospel. All of the elect of God will believe this gospel to the exclusion of all other “gospels” which are no gospels at all.
How do I assert this? John tells us in John 6:44-45“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—”
What does it mean to come to Christ? John tells us- “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
First and foremost, salvation is of the Lord! It is Christ who came from heaven to do the will of His Father-that He (Christ) should lose nothing (no elect sinner/saint) that the Father gave to Christ. God the Father gave the elect to Christ to redeem them. Salvation is thus contingent on Christ’s work, not the work of the elect sinner. It was Christ’s mission to save His people-this text says nothing of cooperation or agreement on the part of the sinner, but that Christ was sent to accomplish this particular mission. It was the WILL of the Father that Christ redeem His people. If Christ had failed to complete this mission, He would be a sinner, and thus worthy of death and unable to be resurrected. If Christ had failed His mission, it would destroy His eternal union with the Father because there would be no sacrifice thereafter to cover the sin of Christ for failing to save His people. There are major theological issues that come with saying that Christ’s death will be ineffective for some sinners who don’t make the right choice of choosing Him.
To come to Christ is to look on Him and believe in Him. Who can come to Christ? “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—John 6:44-45 ESV.
Verse 45 is particularly instructive–“Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” The elect have been instructed by the Father, thus they will come to Christ. This means that the gospel that every true believer believes has been given to them by God, which is why they believe correctly about the atonement of Christ and for whom that work was performed. This is why the believer believes a perfect gospel, because God Himself has instructed them.
The testimony of God concerning Christ is an objective thing. It is outside of the individual. It is not defined by the individual. There are no portions of it which can be changed or rejected in order to make it more palatable to the individual. It is not a malleable story for the religious person to mold to their own brand of self-righteousness. The gospel has been defined by God Himself; its boundaries are firmly identified and its content is clear. It is inflexible, and it is unchangeable. Every true believer, every true follower of Jesus Christ believes the same gospel-that Christ alone is their righteousness before God.
I make the point that believers believe the gospel because I bump into a lot of people (truthfully, it is most people) that claim to be believers but they do not believe the gospel of the accomplished work of Christ for the elect alone. Most of the people that I meet that claim to be believers believe some version of conditionalism. No matter what they say or argue to the contrary, at bottom, when pressed, what they believe is that man must do something to make salvation effective for them. In addition to this faulty belief, they also believe that all men have the ability to do whatever is required of them to make salvation effective for them.
Friends, this is the mark of an unbeliever. The lie of conditionalism is not some minor theological error to be addressed through further study. Conditionalism is a mark of spiritual death. It sings the praises of the sinner and his will to repent and believe, and denies Christ the full glory and honor due to Him for His work. It denies the glory of the Father in choosing His own people. It denies the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which is Christ alone. Anyone who does not believe the truth concerning Christ is an unbeliever-that is what it means to be an unbeliever, to deny the truth concerning Christ and His work. That can be done through many varied means, the most popular of which is the erection of the golden calf-false christ of Arminianism. This false christ saves no one, openly admits it, and is an impotent worm worthy of hell and condemnation forever because he failed to obey his father in saving all men (and unjust and unloving god) and will continue to fail until hell has swallowed up its final human soul.
Unbelievers do not believe the gospel. Until and if God gives them life and understanding, they will be unable to believe it. The non-elect cannot choose to believe God. He cannot change his standing as non-elect.
The truth is not about persuasion. The truth is not about the rhetoric employed to convince someone of it. Unbelievers cannot be persuaded of the truth because they are spiritually dead, and they have not been given eyes to see the truth in Christ. Truth is from God. God instructs His people. God gives His people the truth. All truth comes from God, and His standard is the only standard that matters when it comes to measuring what the truth is.
Many claim to be believers, but Christ said that He will turn many away as workers of lawlessness (Matthew 7). These that are turned away are not those that were given to Christ by the Father, and that is clear based on what they say to Christ when they meet Him-Look at all the stuff we did in your name. They are self-righteous. Part of being non-elect is being left in a state of blindness concerning your own self-righteousness. The non-elect sinner is blind to his own self-righteousness, and thus cannot look on Christ. That is why they are set about trying to establish their own self-righteousness, because they are unaware of how sinful they truly are, and they cannot see the righteousness revealed in Christ and take rest there. They look at the text of scripture as an invitation to perform certain actions read to be preferred, and not perform other actions which are read to be not preferred. They are (sort of ) white washed tombs, filled with dead men’s bones-legalists. Because of these things, they set up a false christ who loves all and yet fails many of them.
Believing God is a gift to the elect. To believe God is a blessed thing, a thing that only His elect can do. If you believe the biblical gospel of the accomplished atonement of Christ for the elect alone, then you can know that God has done His work in you. If you reject this message, then you should have nothing but legal fear until your final breath.
All that God the Father gave to Christ will come to Him, and they will come via the exact same gospel, which was taught to them, by God Himself.