Engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

God’s Sovereignty

Prayer and The Sovereign LORD:

The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD, he turns it wherever he will.” Proverbs 21:1

I can’t tell you how many times it has bees suggested to me that because I believe in the sovereign LORD, Who controls all things down to the smallest detail, that I should cease prayer. Yet, some of those people who tell me that, are the ones who would use the very verse to encourage prayer for the President of America, or some other political issue which they are concerned about.

I believe it was J. I. Packer that said something to the effect of every Christian is a Calvinist on his/her knees. It is precisely the sovereignty of God that drives us to prayer and gives us the assurance that He can accomplish what we ask. If God did not have control of the the hearts of kings, then why ask God to change the direction a ruler is headed, to cause him to veto a bill, or alter his allocation of troops? If God doesn’t hold sovereign sway over the hearts of men then why ask God to save the lost? Why ask God to bring a straying child back? If words mean anything at all, at the heart of the one asking these things is the belief that it is really God who does these things. They may claim free-will as a God frustrating factor, but when they go to seek God’s face they leave their man made notions of freedom behind. If they are to pray biblically, then they must do so.

The believers in Acts prayed like this (chapter 4:24-30… note their appeal to God’s creatorship and control over all things, and their plea for the grace to be bold instead of trusting in their own determination to preach the gospel) “And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

We serve the Almighty God, and it’s is precisely because He controls all things that we go to Him in assurance that He can do what we ask.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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Camp on God’s Sovereignty

I have much to share regarding my sister’s wedding, but I was reading this article by Steve Camp and thought I’d share it as I will not be able to blog until the 1st of July.
Here is the link to the site if you wish to read more of his thoughts on topics.

http://www.a1m.org/

May God be glorified.

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
…salvation is not your choice – it is His
October 29th 2009 –
For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
-1 Corinthians 1:18

One of the damnable lies that has crept into evangelicalism over the last fifty years (via a return to Finneyism) is that salvation is the result of your free will enacted by your own volition to decide to follow Jesus Christ so that you can gain eternal life. Rubbish! Salvation is the result of His sovereign election of His own from all eternity past in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:1-2). Salvation is not the result of you mumbling some little sinners prayer, walking an aisle, raising a hand, or signing a decision card. “The only thing,” as Jonathan Edwards has said, “that you bring to your salvation is the sin that makes it necessary.”

So read the following words by brother C.H. Spurgeon and consider the greatness of your salvation – that it is all of grace, all of God, all of Christ Jesus the Lord, all of the regenerating ministry of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-7). Any boasting in and of ourselves is excluded; any attribution in the smallest degree to man’s free will is a gospel worthy of the dung hill (Roms. 3:21-31; Phil. 3:1-12). All our boasting and glory is in the Lord Jesus Christ alone (1 Cor. 1:27-31)!

Amen?

We stand in grace,
Steve

“I feel persuaded that false doctrine, inasmuch as it touches God’s sovereignty, is always an object of divine jealousy. Let me indicate especially the doctrines of free-will. I know there are some good men who hold and preach them, but I am persuaded that the Lord must be grieved with their doctrine though he forgives them their sin of ignorance. Free-will doctrine—what does it? It magnifies man into God; it declares God’s purposes a nullity, since they cannot be carried out unless men are willing. It makes God’s will a waiting servant to the will of man, and the whole covenant of grace dependent upon human action. Denying election on the ground of injustice it holds God to be a debtor to sinners, so that if he gives grace to one he is bound to do so to all. It teaches that the blood of Christ was shed equally for all men and since some are lost, this doctrine ascribes the difference to man’s own will, thus making the atonement itself a powerless thing until the will of man gives it efficacy. Those sentiments dilute the scriptural description of man’s depravity, and by imputing strength to fallen humanity, rob the Spirit of the glory of his effectual grace: this theory says in effect that it is of him that willeth, and of him that runneth, and not of God that showeth mercy.

Any doctrine, my brethren, which stands in opposition to this truth—”I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,” provokes God’s jealousy. I often tremble in this pulpit lest I should utter anything which should oppose the sovereignty of my God; and though you know I am not ashamed to preach the responsibility of man to God—if God be a sovereign, man must be bound to obey him—on the other hand, I am equally bold to preach that God has a right to do what he wills with his own, that he giveth no account of his matters and none may stay his hand, or say unto him, “What doest thou?” I believe that the free-will heresy assails the sovereignty of God, and mars the glory of his dominion. In all faithfulness, mingled with sorrow, I persuade you who have been deluded by it, to see well to your ways and receive the truth which sets God on high, and lays the creature in the dust.” — C. H. Spurgeon


Defensive Pottery:

I am listening to Doug Wilson as he is preaching through Romans, and would like to share a thought with you.

We get offended at Paul’s comparing us to clay (Romans 9:21), claiming we are not very much like pots at all. We don’t just sit there; we have dreams and aspirations – a pot doesn’t! We have wills, and desires! We are not inanimate pots. Yet, we never get offended at comparing God to a potter. It never occurs to us that the transcendent, Almighty God is so much more than a potter. Matter of fact, we are more like clay than God is like a potter.

Isn’t it odd how we are so quick to try to protect ourselves? We would rather twist the truth, that submit to it (2 Peter 3:16). We’re awfully defensive pottery.

May God give us grace to come humbly to His Word.


Potent Stuff!


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?


A biblical view of God:

A biblical view of God is not something we are left to develop on our own as He has revealed Himself to us in His Word. Nor is it something we are at liberty to create by approaching His Word with a “pick-and-choose” mentality, holding to what suits us best and looking over those parts that are most distasteful.

There are a few verses that I would like to mention here were God confronted Job and His friends concerning this very thing.

1.  Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
(Job 40:8  ) Paul asked his questioners the same thing in Romans 9:19-20 “You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” ” The settings of these two questions are similar in that God was doing what He desired with whom He desired when He desired. Man likes to think he has control of his destiny, but he is nothing but a created being and is under the Sovereign control of God Almighty. “”Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox.”
(Job 40:15)

2.   Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand. Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the world below. Then will I also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you. (Job 40:12-14)  Our will is a feckless thing! Our only hope of salvation is in The LORD! Many say that we are drowning and the gospel is a life preserver, thrown to us, and if we grab on to it we will be pulled to safety. They say this in attempts to emphasis man’s responsibility to believe the gospel, but take it to an unbiblical degree and turn responsibility into ability. God says we have no ability, that our own right hand (the hand of power) cannot save us.

3.   Behold, the hope of a man is false; he is laid low even at the sight of him. No one is so fierce that he dares to stir him up. Who then is he who can stand before me? Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.  (Job 41:9-11) Prior to these verses, God had been describing Behemoth. He goes on to say that we fear a created thing and our strength fails us – what makes us think we can stand before The Creator? We fear dinosaurs more than we fear The Almighty! We would not dare contend with Behemoth, yet daily, man raises his fist at God and cries out injustice; or at best points a doubting finger at God with questions of fairness. We so often forget that we have given God nothing, and have no claim to His mercy and grace. There is not an action we can do to put ourselvs in a favorable light with Him.  For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
(Rom 9:15-18   )

After God was finished speaking to Job, his response was amazing!

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
(Job 42:2) He affirmed God’s sovereign control over all things. That God can do whatever he desires, and that He accomplishes exactly what He desires to accomplish – always.

This biblical view of God affected Job drastically.

I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
(Job 42:5-6)

God is also concerned with the view we hold of Him.

After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.
(Job 42:7)

May God graciously give us a right view of Him.


Why Should we Evangelize?

The Command:

Why evangelize? We are commanded to. We tend to minimize this as a reason, we would often prefer to operate from emotion, confusing that with passion.  Yet this is a foundational principle behind evangelism. For if God had not commanded it, then we would not place such an emphasis on it. It is precisely the command that puts us in disobedience for not obeying it. There are people who say Christ’s command to evangelize is not the only reason we should do so, as if there were an equal or higher motive. What if God were to forbid one to evangelize an area, should he rebel and evangelize anyway.  Yet if our motives are man-centered and emotionally driven then we will do what we think is best or what makes most sense to us. You may say, “This would never happen, as He told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel!” Yet this very thing happened to Paul “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.”
(  Act 16:6-8  )

A runner keeps his eyes on the prize, so when our motive for evangelizing is man-centered our eyes are on the prize – “Conversion” of men. Although we do desire to see The LORD convert sinners, for our eyes to be on this is idolatry as it puts man as the all consuming reason for evangelism. Idolatry is fuel for pragmatism. When our evangelism is man-centered,  we will base the success of our evangelism on decisions made, and since that becomes our measure stick we will do what generates our desired results. Scripture tells us that it is God that converts men, not us or any prescribed formula that we walk them through. The idea that if we get them to make a decision or pray a prayer asking Jesus into their heart, when God has done no work in their heart, accomplishes nothing but mass deception in attempts to achieve our man-centered goal, and alleviate our consciences. This pragmatism will cause us to “offer God” as a way to get out of hell, or to a utopia of an eternity. We have a mass of people who have “made their decisions for Christ” but there is no repentance involved. They simply “chose Him” because it’s naturally more desirable as opposed to burning for eternity, but since there is no conversion, there is no true repentance and faith. Our conscience is eased because we declare them to be saved, and we deceive them because we instruct them to put the certainty of their “conversion” upon an act they committed at a point in time.  Jesus becomes nothing more than a ticket we make sure we have to board the train for heaven.

What about compulsion?

Am I saying we should evangelize out of mere duty, with no passion or fervency? Absolutely not! We should find no higher motivation to evangelize than the fact that it  is commanded by The Almighty God! For our heart should cry with the Psalmist, “I delight to do Thy will” oh, LORD! Because He has commanded it, we should long to do it. Because He has a people He calls to Himself, and does so through the preaching of His Word, our hearts should be aflame with longing to see Him call out His own. Yes, we rejoice, along with heaven, when one sinner is brought to repentance, but we also can rejoice if none are. For Scripture says, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?” (II Cor. 2:14-16). Every time we give the gospel we exalt God, and for this we can rejoice. Every time we preach the gospel it is successful. We are an aroma to God, and He is glorified. We desire to see God save men, for as He does there will be more true worship offered up to the King of Kings.

So there is a biblical compulsion to evangelism, but it is not a man-centered compulsion. All things with man at it’s center will fail. Bruce Parsons, in speaking of ministry as a whole said, “Without God at the very heart of ministry, ministry is not only a fool’s errand but it is impossible…” So it is with evangelism [a part of ministry]. The compulsion we have is generated by the command. We do what we do because God has told us it pleases Him; and our happiness is found in HIM. We should be so enthralled with Him that when He is pleased, we are pleased. Nothing should bring us any greater pleasure than His pleasure. This is worship!

When our motives are biblical, so will be our methods and message.

In Summary:
Why should we evangelize? Soli Deo Gloria!


Evangelism: What exactly is it anyway?

I read an article today that was published in a past issue of Christianity Today entitled “What Evangelism Isn’t” .It was published in 2007, but is a must read!

Mark Dever hit the nail on the head when he addressed this topic. It is amazing how when the doctrines of grace are forsaken (whether ignorantly, or intentionally) that other vital areas slip as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve either been told that I will not evangelize, or that I am inconsitent if I do evangelize. Those who make this statement show that they have been missinformed concerning the doctrines of grace and what true evangelism is.

As Ernest Reisinger said in addressing the question “Will Calvinism Kill Evangelism“:

“The answer to the question is yes and no. Yes, it will kill unbiblical man-centered evangelism and some of the carnal unbiblical methods employed in man-centered evangelism.

No, it will not kill God-centered evangelism where biblical methods are employed in the great work of carrying out our Lord’s clearest command.”

May God bring His people back to Scripture, and true evangelism!


A thought from Job:

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“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

(Job 42:2)

God’s sovereignty is a truth that no Christian would intentionally deny. But what happens among most believers today, is that once they affirm this biblical doctrine with their lips the quickly forget it with the mind and hearts and move on to another doctrine. They affirm God rules all things and that it is impossible for Him to be “tripped up” or delayed, and then turn around and speak things like, “God wants to do such and such, but you won’t let Him.” That sounds good, but there are some serious ramifications to holding to such statements! Apart from denying the words you just affirmed, you are in the process of deifying man and humanizing God.

Two rebuttal arguments that are often proposed in opposition to the truth of God’s total sovereignty are:

God is so sovereign that if He chose to give man a completely free-will and still be sovereign then He could do that.” Essentially they claim that God could give up some of His sovereignty and still be sovereign; that He could relinquish control over something, or someone, and yet still control it/them. For this to be true, one must redefine the meaning of “control”, as well as “relinquish”. If words had no sure meaning then I guess that would be possible. (But then how could we communicate truth, if words have no set definition?) ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

(Job 42:3)

Another one is:

God says that His purpose will not be thwarted, so ultimately He will win, but that doesn’t mean He was in control the whole time.” This is just not biblical. God says He does all His pleasure (Isaiah 46:10), that He works all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians :11); that He does according to His will in the host of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth (Daniel 4:25). This attempted rebuttal also denies that God is concerned with the details of our lives, as it says He gets His way in the end, but not in necessarily in the middle. It also is problematic in that if God doesn’t control the means He doesn’t control the ends. It makes Him indifferent to what happens from start to finish as long as the finish ends as intended. This rebuttal is also an illogical proposition. For this to hold true it would have to be held that God is only concerned that every knee bow and tongue confess that He is LORD; and not concerned with who is in heaven or hell. For if God wanted Hitler in heaven, and tried to get him there, but he’s in hell, then God’s purpose for Hitler was thwarted, also since Hitler wasn’t a believer and was the catalyst for a world war, then there are many deaths that was not intended, as well ad broken homes, national debts, etc. Those who died in the war who God intended to raise children, had none; so God’s plans for all those unborn children are completely thwarted. If God doesn’t control this minute in time, what guarantee do you have that He will control the next? Does it just so happen to work out for Him in the end? Absolutely not. We know He had planned all that comes to pass. Even the fall of man; as Scripture tells us Christ was The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

The problem is that when men deal with this topic they hold onto their unbiblical presuppositions, and unfounded ideologies of what God must be in order to be just and right, instead of see what God says He is and how He is just and right. We formulate what we define as right and just and then hold God to that since He tells us He is just and right. When He defines just and right. He says all he does is right, so we know that if He does it, it is right. God is good.

God is not regaining control over anything. He is not attempting to solve a problem that He would have preferred not happen, but since it did, He will step in a fix it. Satan, nor man, has thwarted God’s plan. And although their intentions are to do so, their attempts to thwart are nothing but fulfillment. Just as Joseph’s brothers. They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.

No purpose of God’s can be thwarted, not even for an instant. God accomplishes what He desires in exactly the time frame in which He desires it to be accomplished. This was the climax of Job’s discovery. All that had befallen him was ordained of God. God had brought him to this end for His purposes. Satan, Job’s “friends” – they were tools in the hand of The Master Craftsman. Responsible for their actions? Yes, yet never out from under the control of Almighty God. As Loraine Boettner put it, “God wills righteously those things which men do wickedly.”

Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.

(Job 42:1-7) [emphasis added]

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