Engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Election

Why don’t we rejoice in it? He does!

Luke 10:21 says that Jesus “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.”” Jesus actually rejoiced that the Father hid truth from some, and rejoiced in His Father’s electing love. This has rocked my world, and what was once a loathsome thing, is sweetness and light, now I can see it.” If Jesus rejoices in His Father hiding (which speaks of activity) truth from some that He reveals to others, I think it should at least cause us to ask the question “why?” Why would God hiding some things from some and revealing His truth to others be precious to our Lord? Why does it not excite us the way it excited Jesus? (that’s something to think about for sure)

I read this from an article you can read in it’s entirety HERE.

And I ask you the question: Why? Why does that which brought Jesus rejoicing(the hiding truth from some and the revealing it to others) not bring us the same?

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The Humility caused by God’s Sovereign Choice

“even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Ephesians 1:4

My 16 month old son goes to sleep to music. There is one song that seems to calm him above all others – “Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)”. I remember laying him on my chest and singing this to him and almost instantaneously he would go from screaming to silent. Now, I am not saying this to speak of any “magical powers” in the song, or an attempt to encourage you to go buy a Chris Tomlin cd.. (I will do that briefly now, GO BUY A CHRIS TOMLIN CD! “Arriving” and “See The Morning” are two of my favorites….now that we’ve had a word from our sponsors…=)… ) My son was sleeping and we had that particular song on repeat, and Chris was singing the last verse, which for some reason we don’t have a habit of singing in most of our churches today. It goes like this,

“The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below
Will be forever mine”

(for entire song lyrics click here)

And when he said, “But God Who called me here below…” that word “called” rang in my mind. I began to thank God for His grace to me in calling me to Himself. And He began to remind me that not many noble and wise are called, but rather He has chosen the foolish to confound the wise.

A friend of mine once told me that one reason she couldn’t believe in the doctrine of election is that she couldn’t say, “A HA! God has picked me; but sorry, He hasn’t picked you!” This couldn’t be further from the true spirit or teaching of biblical election. God could have chosen to save the rich and influential. Why not save a man who owns a major media corporation, or the richest man in the world? Surely one’s media power and the other financial sway could further the spread of the gospel. Why save a nobody born in North Carolina, and now living in Tennessee? This doesn’t make me proud, but humble. Ephesians tells us it was for the glory of His grace. He get’s all the praise! Surely the richest man in the world could have loads of Bibles printed and it not put him in a bind the least bit, so why use people who are limited in their financial resources? The answer: His strength is made perfect in our weakness!

God’s sovereign choice in salvation, doesn’t cause one to be puffed up that he was picked by God while another was passed over. If this is the response of anyone professing to know Christ, I would venture to say he is self-deceived, and doubly so: 1. in thinking he is known of God, and two in thinking he is worth saving. It causes one to fall at the feet of The Savior wondering why he wasn’t passed over as well.

And the beauty of it all, is even the answer to this question is found in God Himself. Ephesians 4:32 “…as God in Christ forgave you.” My forgiveness is not merited by any value of my own, but all of Christ’s! My value only purchases damnation. Christ bought me life!

Soli Deo Gloria!


Bible Driven Theology

It has been said that those who hold to the doctrines of grace are driven by logic or some esoterically intellectual scheme. I have friends who ask me questions, and they do so in the right spirit. As I read this I thought of some who it may help. there is no use re-inventing the wheel, so I will just post a link to the 2 part article. It is lengthy, but well worth the time.

I would urge all who read it, even those who know they will probably agree with what is said, to do so preceeded by prayer, and continue to pray through the article.

For those who do not agree to the doctrines of grace, may The LORD be pleased to use this to open your heart and mind to the verity of them.

For those who do hold to this biblical doctrine, may The LORD be pleased to teach us more of humility and cause us to worship Him the more by His grace.

Part I

Part II


The wonder of grace irresistable:

Read these words tonight and thank God for His sovereign grace!

“Why was I made to hear His voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?
‘Twas the same love that spread the feast,
That sweetly forced us in;
Else we had still refused to taste
And perished in our sin.”


Continuing along the lines of Humility:

The flesh will take anything and revel in it. Oh, how wicked we are that we would take such a self humiliating truth ad God’s sovereign grace, and exhalt self in it! May God keep us humble as He manfest His grace to our hearts.


How do I know if I’m chosen???

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For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”

(1 Thessalonians 1:4-5)

This is a question that has been asked me, in some shape or form, plenty of times. I am sure that anyone who has given much thought to the truths this blog attempts to proclaim (regardless of which side you fall on at the end) has asked themselves this very question. This question is also often used to dissuade people from considering the verity of the doctrines of grace.

I find that most who struggle with this question do not yet have a biblical understanding of election, nor the gracious gifts of repentance and faith. I won’t bore you for long, as I believe the Scripture is very clear on this; but simply point you to the Holy Spirit inspired words of Paul, and give a brief explanation.

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.”

(1 Thessalonians 1:4-5) [emphasis added]

Let’s play this out between the questioner and the apostle Paul:

Questioner: “Paul, you speak of the electing work of God – that He has mercy on whom He will and harden’s whom He will. You say that salvation is not a thing I can attain by my works, or even my own willing to be saved. If my salvation is completely up to God, and His unconditional election, how do I know if I am elected?”

Paul: “Has God so moved in your heart that the sin you once loved you now hate? Are you resting on the Person and work of Jesus Christ alone for your salvation? Then the gospel did not come to you in word only but also in power and the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction, and know that God has chosen you.

Grant it, this is not a translation of I Thessalonians 1:4-5. But then you would not be asking Paul this question face to face either. =) It is rather an application of the truth stated here.

Paul said he new God had chosen those at Thessalonica who believed because of the effect the gospel had on them. Faith and repentance are gifts of grace, purchased with the blood of Christ for His children. We were dead in sin, walking according to the will of Satan, and God made us alive to Himself. (Eph. 2:1-10) It is of God that we are saved. Even our belief is not of our own doing, so we can only boast in the cross! (Galatians 6:14)

So, my friend, if The Holy Spirit testifies that you are truly repenting of your sins and believing in The LORD Jesus Christ, then election is something you can claim.

If you have no repentance and true faith in The LORD Jesus Christ, then do not be decieved by a prayer you prayed, a baptism you endured, a church role you’re on, or a humanitarian act you performed. You must repent and believe the gospel! May The LORD, in His grace,make the gospel hit you like a ton of bricks granting you a hatred for, and a longing to be free of, your sin making Himself glorious to you and causing you to flee to Him.

And if He has done these things to you already, let’s thankfully worship Him for His amazing grace!

May He make the cry of our hearts be –

Soli Deo Gloria!!!


A Soliloquy on Grace:

I was lost and unconscious of my state. Dead to all God is and all He loves. I was told, occasionally, of my deadness, yet this truth fell on deaf ears and a cold, beatless, heart – For i was dead. I was accustomed to living without Him, for I had never known anything but life without Him – at least what I thought was life.

So lost was I that I sought, not to be found, but to find. I sought fulfillment. Fulfillment in the very things that starved me. Yet the more I devoured these sinful delicacies, the more they devoured me. I sought Him not. How could I seek Him? I was dead to Him and He was death to me!

I was lost, and a slave to my lostness; obeying my God-hating master’s every whim. Yet not feeling to be a slave, but rather a free man. For the commands of my master fell on my ears as if they were spoken from my own lips. Never a command given that did not please my dead heart to fulfill. I loved my lostness! And if I ever began to become disgruntled in the least I quickly found that delving deeper in the darkness satisfied.

I even found a cloak, seemingly tailored just for me – religion. I knew not that it was ragged and filthy, and no one else seemed to care. Woven from my own works of morality, the very best I had, it served as a kind of security. A guarantee that all the pleasure I indulged in here would be transported and maximized in the here after.

I was lost.

But one day a Light shined on me, yet in me, for it penetrated to my soul. i know It shined on me, for I never would have stepped into It. My master had warned me of this, and I swore to run from It’s rays if I were to ever see It.

My heart began to beat, and heard a Voice. He spoke wrath to me, and as the words of condemnation were falling in my ears a stench reached my nostrils that made me sick. As if knowing what it was that sickened me and my inability to find it’s source, The Light said, “All your righteousness are as filthy raggs.” Instantly my eyes saw my prized cloak and despised every fiber of it. I ripped it from my body only to find myself nakedly exposed in The Light, and none the better for shedding it, for The Voice still spoke wrath to me.

The light bore down on me, showing me all I was; or rather all I wasn’t compared to It’s Holiness. It was no more just my cloak i hated, but loathed myself. The words of wrath The Voice had spoken to me were justly done so, and I knew it. Yet, strangely, I did not desire to run from this condemning Light; nor could I for It had found me. I curled up like a child in the womb, naked and absolutely destitute; knowing wrath was earned, yet wishing somehow to escape it.

Then The Voice spoke again, “Come.” I looked up, expecting to see The Voice calling me to the instrument of death prepared for wretches such as I. But my eyes beheld a Lamb that had been slain! He said to me, “I, Who knew no sin, became sin for you. Come.” As He spoke these words He drew me to Himself, yet without ropes. Like my old master, the words The Lamb spoke were parallel to the desires of my own heart. I could not resist, for I did not want to.

He took His own cloak of righteousness and placed it on my back and said to me, “You are Mine, for I have purchased you with My blood!”

I fell at His feet, and worshiped The Lamb. He had made this dead man live!

————————————————————————————-

AMAZING GRACE (My Chains are Gone)

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine
You are forever mine


Blessed be The God… Who hath blessed – Pt.II

Holy

Ephesians 1:4 “ According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Holy. A word we use all throughout religion. We have the Holy Bible, there are holy men of God, we sing of holiness, we are told to be holy, and here in Ephesians 1, we are told that we are chosen to the blessing of holiness. In defining the meaning of this term it is helpful to note that it is also translated as
“saint” throughout the same book. In some religions, sainthood is something that is aquired after men proove themselves worthy of it by performing certain deeds, or having some miraculous work attributed to them. But Scripture tells us that we are His chosen saints – every one who is a child of God is a saint. We tend to not think of ourselves as saints, as we have fallen into the fallacy of reserving that term for men who have some outward form of special connection with God that the “regular” children of God do not have. But we are His saints, even the most immature Christian among us are His saints just the same. Sainthood is not a thing gotten, it is a thing given – meaning we have been made holy, or sanctified. We are the elect who have been set appart from the world. This setting appart is not according to our meeting some prerequisite, it is solely upon the choice of The Almighty.

A thing that is holy is a thing that is separate from all else. The vessels in the tabernacle were holy, sanctified to The LORD and His service. God is The thrice holy God – He is completely other than anything in the entire universe. There is nothing comparable to Him. And here in Ephesianse, we are told that we have been chosen to be holy! We have been singled out by the God of heaven to be His! We are those for whom Christ prayed in John 17 “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” (John 17:6-9) This separation brigs us the prayers, protection and power of Christ, and so much more, for we are God’s.

God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings! All these flow from His Sovereign choice; and among them is that we have been made holy – separated unto Him. We are His sheep; holy to be led of Him for His glory. We have been given the honor to be counted as lambs for the slaughter, to be hated by this world due to our association with The One who has saved us by His grace! Set apart as those who will gather around the throne and sing priases to the Lamb for all eternity.

He has chosen us before the foundation of the world to be His! Oh, may this truth thrill our hearts with humble joy!

Oh, LORD! Make us to understand the truth (and not just intellectually) that You have separated us to Yourself. May we be humbled by it, not passing through this world as if we are better because of the things we don’t indulge in, but to humbly abstain from the pleasures of this world because You have made us Yours by the purchase of Your blood. Not boasting because the world is not worthy of us, but completely broken because we are not worthy of You. May we praise you for the persecution from those who hate you, as it signifies we are holy unto You. Amen.


Truth

“What if you don’t want to be a Calvinist??? What if you don’t want to be a Christian??? Are you stuck with God anyway???”

As I was reading through a thread of some people arguing for and against the doctrines of grace (AKA Calvinism) I found the statement above. This is one of the most ludicrous things I have ever read, yet I used to believe this way as well. As I read, one thing became evident. Those who reject Calvinism reject it because they do not understand it; whether willfully or just plain blindness to it. As Charles Spurgeon said, “We are made Calvinist by the grace of God.” People who don’t like the thought that God chooses some before the foundation of the world, as is clearly taught in Scripture, do so because they have a man-centered theology. They do not see themselves as they truly are – wicked, sinful creatures who are absolutely worthless and deserve nothing but HELL at this very moment. We were all born God hating, and apart from the sovereign grace of Almighty God, none of us would be saved.
It is not about one’s believing a thing to be true. The believer’s faith doesn’t make the blood of Christ effective in his/her life, the blood of Christ purchased that faith and made it effective in their life.
If you are one of those who despise these biblical truths, listen to what you are saying! You exalt your unbiblical logic above the very words of Christ. Read John 6, 10, 17; the entire book; all four accounts of the gospel for that matter; Ephesians 1, 2, etc. The Sovereignty of God in all things is all through Scripture. The doctrine of election is taught by Jesus. He told the Jews in Matthew’s accounting of the gospel that there were many widows that were starving, yet He chose to only send His prophet to one. He said there were many lepers, yet He chose to heal Naaman. The Jews understood Christ to be saying that He chooses who to have mercy on. This angered them and they wanted to push Him off the cliff.
I am not upset at the attacks people make on Calvin, as he is a man who was imperfect. Although he loved The LORD and sought the glory of God above his own, he was just as human as any.
It grieves me that men are so adamant at holding on to the one thing that gives you “god-status”. Free will. This is the very lie Satan propounded to Eve. Men like this because they think this allows them to control their destiny. But all this false teaching does is make man the center and reason why God does all He does. It reduces God to a powerless pleader, like a little high school girl begging for Johnny to call her and ask her out, but unable to convince him to do so; all she can do is try to doll herself up and attempt to catch his eye and hope. They remove all power from the atonement in order to maintain their perceived concept of free will. What is being forgotten is that Christ did not pay man, He did not pay Satan. He bore the wrath of Almighty God for the sins of His people. When He cried, “It is finished!” He was right. He ransomed men from every tribe and tongue to God. When He said He came to seek and to save the lost, he was successful in His mission. God is not a failure. Scripture teaches that Jesus Christ shall have the prize for which He died – His church, those bought with His blood. This enrages some- The fact that Christ did not ransom all men. But those who it enrages are such because they have somehow fancied mankind as worth saving.

At the heart of all their disputing is their failure to see man as he is, and it is only by God’s grace that we will see ourselves as we truly are – dead in our trespasses and sins. We would always reject God, apart from His saving grace. “For by grace are ye saved…”
No man wants to be a Christian, it is by God’s grace that his heart is changed and he desires The LORD. “We love Him because He first loved us.” He loved me before the foundations of the world, I can not help but love Him back. By His grace He changed my stony heart to a heart of flesh and I willing love Him. “It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (emphasis added)

May God, by His grace, open our eyes to the truth.


Blessed be The God… Who hath blessed…

Ephesians 3:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places n Christ:”

God has blessed His people with spiritual blessings, and not a few, but all. This is by no means an exhaustive study on the blessings, for the grace of God is limitless, and His mercies are new every morning; He daily loadeth us with benefits. There is no way in which any created being could ever comprehend all the blessings of God upon His children. May this be a blessing to you and may God use it to turn your heart in praise to Him. As we look into these blessings may God show our hearts that even in all these gifts to His children, it is not for us, but for His glory He does this!

CHOSEN

Ephesians 3:4 “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love:”

God has from before the foundation of the world chosen a people from every kindred, tongue, and people, and nation for Himself; and purchased them with His blood on Calvary. (Revelation 5:9) This choosing, I list as the first blessing, for it is because of this that all other blessings are pursuant. Paul says “God… has blessed us with all spiritual blessings… according as He hath chosen us…” The biblical truth of election is one of the most humbling and yet the most exalting of biblical truths.

Those who are God’s children have no merit of their own. We were not chosen due to any merit or foreseen faith or any other good deed on our part. Just as Jeremiah was called from the womb, and known of God before birth, so are all His children known of Him from the beginning of creation. The humiliating thing in all this is that I am absolutely unworthy of any knowledge of God, let alone the blessings that follow that knowledge. As David said, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me…” (Psalm 139:6) The doctrine of election is an extremely self-deprecating doctrine, for in it is contained the utter self-worthlessness of all those chosen.

As a father, I give my children gifts because I love them. My love is set on them because they are my children. I can not help but love them, for there is a father’s love for them in my heart. I didn’t have to work it up, it is as if it just appeared. God placed it there. Yet there are reasons why I love my children. To list a few: they are my children, they are beautiful, they fragile, they are dependent upon me for support and this dependence fills a fatherly void in my life, etc. all these things are true of human father love; but not so with God. God is love. He is the source of all true love. He does not love for the selfish reasons we do, for He needs no fulfillment, there is nothing beautiful in us, we are ugly, and although we are His creation and depend on Him for our every breath, we are diabolically opposed to everything His is and loves. Yet, through all this, He loves us. He loves us because He has chosen to. There is no reason to us – none other than the pleasure of His own will. God doesn’t love us because we are His children. Here in Ephesians we learn the exact opposite – We are God’s children because He loves us. (Eph. 3:5) This is why the truth of election is so deprecating. It is nothing we have done to attain it. We didn’t meet any prerequisite to gain God’s favor. As far as we are concerned, there is no reason why we are not left to perish in hell with others, as there is no difference. (Romans 3:22-23) May God use this truth to bring us to our knees in humble adoration of His goodness towards us. May we see the utter depravity of our hearts and may His glory and grace shine all the more in us.

Yet, this blessing of being chosen by God is exalting, for as He grants me understanding of my absolute wickedness, I revel all the more in the truth that I am still one of His chosen! I am blessed beyond measure that God, through Jesus Christ, has chosen to set His love on me in such a way to cause His grace to abound to me and to change my stone heart, grant sight to my blinded eyes, and give eternal life to me, a man who was dead in his trespasses and sins and loving every minute of that death. (Ephesians 2:1-7) He has completely change me, and it is all because He has chosen to do so. He could have set His heart on another, had He so chosen, but He didn’t! This is the exultation of those who are His children – this is the song we will sing as we gather around the Lamb of God in glory. “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10)

The blessing of being chosen by God. May God use this truth to drive us to worship Him and say with Paul, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” who hath chosen.

Almighty God, may we be made to be more and more like You, and may Your glory shine through us. Consume us with a love for You, and make us what You have chosen us to be – testimonies of your matchless grace.  All glory be to You alone! Amen.”