Questions & Answers

Harold S. Paisley

Question: Is the statement "salvation is a finished work" a correct presentation of the gospel to the unsaved?

Answer: The great work which the Father gave His Son to do and the atonement made by the blessed Lord upon the cross (John 17:4 - 19:31) upon which man’s salvation rests, and is the procuring cause is indeed finished. But salvation is not begun until the awakened sinner obtains peace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and confesses Him as Lord (Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9). At that moment he is saved from the penalty of sin by wondrous grace (Eph. 2:8-9). It follows that he is being saved from the power of sin day by day during his lifetime (Heb. 7:25). He also knows that his final salvation will be enjoyed in the future when delivered by the return of the Saviour from the presence of sin. Then only will salvation be a finished work. For the church the believer has been saved from the wages of sin by the death, burial and resurrection of his Lord. His presence on the Father’s throne preserves each child of God from the many dangers on the pilgrim pathway. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life (Rom. 5:10). Moreover, at any moment, all who have been saved and are being saved, will be raptured at the coming of the Saviour and changed into conditions where the full salvation of God will be enjoyed forever. The work which His goodness began, the arm of His strength will complete, His promise is yea and Amen, and never was forfeited yet (A. Toplady).

Question: Could help be given from God’s word as to the scriptural and godly way of conducting gospel meetings?

Answer: It is well to be reminded that the first objective of any gospel meeting is to reach the conscience of sinners with the solemn word of God relative to their state as guilty sinners in His sight. How incongruous to such an object is anything frivolous. The examples of the Acts is a sure and dependable guide how the gospel should be declared to the lost. When Paul preached "righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come" the effect on Felix was clearly evident. The record of the Holy Spirit in the word is "Felix trembled" (Acts 24:25). Wherever the truth of God is spoken by men whose hearts have been touched by the serious plight of the unsaved, the same awakening will follow. The lack of the power of God is a serious condition and should cause solemn searching of heart lest the gospel be preached in word only and not in demonstration of the Holy Spirit. The ruin, the remedy and the responsibility should figure largely on each occasion. The preeminent message of any gospel effort must be the preaching of Christ crucified, risen and glorified with a full, free, present and eternal offer of salvation in His precious Name to every sinner under heaven. This should be proclaimed with warmth, earnestness, tenderness and compassion as those who must give account to the risen Lord, who has sent His servants into all the world to preach the gospel to every creature in the power of the Holy Spirit who alone can carry the weighty truth into the sinner’s heart. In the conducting of the preaching of the gospel it should be underlined that God is to be reverenced in every phase of the service. The hymns sung should be in keeping with the gospel, the opening prayer short and definite and the scriptures read with dignity. Also, the timing should be short in duration. Often, light and careless conversation at the end and further gatherings in homes have grieved the gracious Spirit and robbed the seriousness of gospel involvement.

Question: Kindly explain in Words in Season 1 Peter 3:19, "By which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison."

Answer: It is our understanding that the simple explanation is the clearest one, namely, "The spirits in prison" are the spirits of Noah’s wicked contemporaries who died under divine judgment in the flood. They went into "prison" which is hell, and there they presently are still confined. When in the body, the Spirit of Christ preached to them, with a view to their repentance. The longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah. Had they listened, obeyed and repented, the flood would have been averted. But all was to no avail. They were disobedient to the striving Spirit. They said unto God, "depart from us," so He withdrew their foundations with the flood (Job 22:16-18). The Lord Jesus solemnly stated, "the flood came and destroyed them all" (Luke 17:27). We see God’s grace in waiting for 120 years in longsuffering, but finally He was forced to fulfil His word in judgment. The flood caused them to perish in their sins and to go down into hell. The preaching was done while they were on earth, but when Peter wrote, their spirits were "in prison" because they were disobedient to the preaching of the Holy Spirit who inspired Noah, a preacher of righteousness.

We do not believe that any message of mercy will ever be preached to those who die impenitent. To teach a "second chance" as some assert, is to handle this part of God’s precious word deceitfully.

Question: What is the true meaning of "that was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world"? (John 1:9).

Answer: From the context, it is clear that it is Christ, the Light, who is spoken of as coming into the world, and not every man, for men are spoken of in Scripture as born into the world. The nativity of the Lord Jesus alone was in a true sense a "coming into the world" of One who preexisted His entrance.

We do not believe that it is an inward light that is spoken of, but the ideal or perfect light, Christ Himself. This light does not enlighten all in the sense that all posses the Light (John 8:12), but rather "sheds its light upon all." It is only inwardly received when God shines in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).

The Light is towards all without restriction or distinction, but whether the Light becomes enlightening depends on the nature of the object upon which it falls. Like the sun, it is universal in its shining, but it is particular in its reception. It shines on all alike (Titus 2:11), but it may be either received or rejected.