As I was reading this passage of scripture, my mind was moved to remember an article written at least forty years ago by W.F. Bell of Canton, Georgia. Bro Bell was one of the first men that I ever heard declare the truth of the sovereign grace of GOD without apology or equivocation. He has just recently passed from this mortal realm and surely a prince and mighty man in Israel has fallen. His passing led me to contemplate the footprints which the LORD enabled him to make in his journey through this lowland of sin, sorrow, disappointment, and death.
The first time I heard him (about forty years ago) he was faithfully declaring the word of GOD and seeking the exaltation of an absolute GOD and a triumphant SAVIOR. The last time I saw him, (just a few weeks ago, as we visited in his home) he was still declaring the same truth. Though he was visibly weakened by the disease which the LORD ultimately used to end his life, he was, nonetheless, faithfully witnessing a good confession and seeking to magnify the SAVIOR’s blessed NAME. I shall not soon forget him, not simply because he was a friend and brother, but because he was unswerving in that which he believed and confessed.
He had, once, written an article in a paper that he published (The Free Grace Broadcaster) entitled, “The Frustrating GOD Who Is Never Frustrated.” Though we sometimes are frustrated by the curves and obstacles which the LORD is pleased to put in our way, yet HE is never frustrated by any outcome; for HE causes all things to occur according to the good pleasure of HIS will and cannot be questioned or held to account by any of the creation which is HIS own. How foolish men are who think otherwise. “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” (Isa 46:9-10)
Thus it is very easy to see why men would be frustrated with GOD, because HE is going to perform that which is good in HIS eyes without any consultation or input from men. HIS purpose is in no wise altered by anything which men may do or say. Those who wish to worship the ONE TRUE and LIVING GOD, take great delight in the fact that HE is truly GOD and not some idol of man’s imagination, who can be manipulated and made to be the servant of men rather than vice versa.(see Ps.115: !-8) Yet those who go about to establish their own righteousness, having not submitted themselves unto HIS (see Rom. 10:3) deny HIS absolute authority to demand ONE RIGHTEOUSNESS which is the RIGHTEOUSNESS of JESUS CHRIST.
They will often pay lip service to seeking that RIGHTEOUSNESS which is HIS alone, yet they will continually contend that HIS bestowal of this RIGHTEOUSNESS is conditional upon the basis of something men, do, say, obey, or profess to believe. Thus very subtly, they make their own righteousness to be of more import than HIS.
Paul did not labor under any such delusion as this but boldly declared that he (along with all of the sons of GOD) was a mere object of GOD’s grace who was given life while he was yet dead in trespasses and sins. He understood that GOD alone makes men to differ from one another, and that any “faith” which one might possess does not arise from them but is the gift of GOD.
He writes to the Galatians, saying: “I do not frustrate the grace of GOD.” Now obviously, it is impossible that the bestowal of grace by the hand of GOD should ever be thwarted or overturned by anything which men could do. What he is here referring to is not some activity which he or others might perform which would negate the purpose of GOD. Rather he has reference to neglecting or failing to recognize that the sum total of his salvation is in JESUS CHRIST, which thing he is determined not to do. He had just prefaced this verse with the very manifesto of the man whose whole life depends upon the active application of the grace of GOD. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)
To “frustrate the grace of GOD” would be to contend that he stands or lives in the power of his own faith and obedience. He declares the exact opposite and says that the life which he now lives in the “flesh”, is a demonstration of GOD’s abundant grace which enables him to live by the “faith of the SON of GOD”. Not his own faith (which would surely fail) but rather that faith which is wrought by the operation of GOD’s grace, which has as its basis, not human belief and obedience, but rather the imputed righteousness of CHRIST. How else can the sons of GOD have LIFE at all?
The faith of GOD’s elect is not “subjective” (i.e.; defined by itself or some activity) but rather it is “objective” (i.e.; centered in the OBJECT of faith, which is CHRIST HIMSELF). When the scriptures say that Abraham was “justified by faith”, they are not describing an activity on the part of Abraham which GOD took notice of, but rather the very ONE in whom Abraham was compelled to trust. “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Rom 4:3)
What was Abraham’s “faith”? It was CHRIST, for indeed he confessed that, “he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Heb 11:10) When men would confuse the OBJECT of faith with the subject of faith, they do indeed “frustrate the grace of GOD”; for they would substitute the activity of the flesh for the gift of GOD wherein the LORD calls HIS own out of darkness and into the LIGHT quite apart from their activity. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2Cor 4:6-7)
Men do “frustrate the grace of GOD” when they neglect to declare the election of a people in CHRIST from before the foundation of the world. I often have men tell me that they believe in unconditional election, but then they never preach it and are content to hold the theory of it without the substance. This is no different than those who oppose the teaching of GOD’s sovereign grace in practical terms. The declaration of the gospel is not “theoretical” but is centered in JESUS CHRIST and HIM crucifed. It is impossible to declare that truth if one does not define who it is that CHRIST was crucified for. If HIS atonement was general in nature, then all men would be saved, unless HIS redemptive work is a failure, at least in part. This would indeed be to “frustrate the grace of GOD.”
Men “frustrate the grace of GOD” when they neglect to declare the effectual call of the saints of GOD. Some have described this as “irresistible grace”, which indeed it is. Peter described this “call” on the Day of Pentecost. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:39) The LORD clearly declared this truth when HE said, “he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.” (John 10:3) HE made a differentiation between those that are HIS sheep and those that are not, “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” (John 10:26-27)
Men “frustrate the grace of GOD” when they fail to preach that GOD will keep them from falling away from HIM, because of HIS faithfulness to them and not theirs.to HIM. HE said that HE would lose none which were given to HIM by HIS FATHER.
But perhaps the most egregious manner in which some do “frustrate the grace of GOD”, is by considering that the keeping of the law, by themselves or others, to be a possibility and/or that such obedience could earn them a place in the LORD’s favor and blessing..
Paul said that if we say that a man can be justified before a Thrice HOLY GOD, by any other means than through the blood and righteousness of CHRIST, (our FAITH) he has exalted the law beyond its proper scope (which is to reveal sin) and frustrated the grace of GOD.