Engaging the culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Posts tagged “Salvation

Invictus

There is one thing that I can’t get over, it’s been about 4 years since The LORD opened my eyes up to the truth of His sovereign grace, and that is the beauty and wonder of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Over the short while I have come to see, and ever increasingly understand, these truths God has brought me into many conversation with those who do not hold to sovereign grace.

I’ve been thinking on the doctrine that the non-Calvinist (yet non-Pelagian) holds to – prevenient grace. This is the notion that God gives grace to all men equally which they are able to improve on in order to be saved. This prevenient grace doesn’t save them, but somehow nullifies the effects of sin without giving any certain inclination to righteousness either. It, in essence, is thought to put the will in neutral so that it is absolutely free to choose good or evil. There are a multiplicity of issues with this view: 1.) it’s not taught in Scripture anywhere, 2.) it must divorce the actions and choices of man from the seat of action – the heart – which is completely against the clear teachings of Scripture, 3.) it cannot account for the difference between two people who hear the gospel and have two different responses, apart from claiming there was something within the individual that made the difference; 4.) It negates the work of Christ on the cross, bleeding it of all it’s power, making it nothing more than the work of a mortal as it was merely done to aid us in our getting ourselves out of hell. Thus prevenient grace still is a system of works, or merit based, salvation. It adds grace into the equation in an attempt to be more faithful to the Scripture than the pelagian system, yet still falls short of Scriptural. Rejecting God’s sovereign choice to save whichever condemned sinners He will, they wish to make the playing field completely equal. Thus they say that what God has done, He has done equally for every individual male/female, inevitably placing their destination in their own hands. They make man the master of his fate and the captain of his soul, ultimately denying God’s control over His creation, and effectively placing man at the position satan promised him he would hold – “you will be as gods”.

Let’s examine an instance of how this prevenient grace is said to work. Greg is lost in his sin, but one day “happens” to go to church (he was actually itch’n for a hitch’n and was hoping to find a good girl at the local baptist church; so he had a reason, but to others it appeared to be chance). While he is sitting there, scoping out the girls, the preacher is giving a clear presentation of the gospel. He hears it with his ears, he can’t help but hear it as the man is literally screaming, Jack Hyles style, from the top of his lungs. The invitation is given as they sing 32 stanzas of “Just as I am”. Now here is what those who espouse prevenient grace believe is going on inside the man:

As the gospel is being preached, the man is hearing it, and God is trying to convince the man that he needs Jesus and to place faith in The Christ. God doesn’t change the man, for the man has to ask God to do that first. Instead, God is thought to somehow nullify the fallen state that Adam’s sin has placed the man without giving him any desire for righteousness. This man is thought to be morally neutral. Having been given this grace that doesn’t really save the man, he is left with his salvation in his own hands. If he meets the condition to merit salvation, namely making the right choice at that moment, then God will grant him saving grace. If not, then the man will be placed back into his sin bound state from which he was momentarily freed.

How does this line up with Scripture? Jesus clearly taught that we must have a definite change in our constitution before we will believe. Jesus said, “unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.” He also said, “men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil” and “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” directly tying the actions we do as the result of the wickedness of our hearts. Christ clearly stated this relationship when He said, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.” Prevenient grace not only violates the clear teaching of Jesus by assuming that a man can make a choice for good without actually having had his heart changed to desire good over evil, but it also violates the law of non-contradiction as well. Those who ascribe to prevenient grace declare (by the very nature of it being necessary from the start) that a man cannot choose contrary to his desires; yet after the assumed prevenient grace is given, they say that man can choose contrary to his desires. They say that he has somehow been freed form his bondage to evil, yet not bound to righteousness. Thus being neutral, per what Scripture teaches, no decision would be made; yet they claim that he can now decide for a thing he has no like or dislike for. Trying to take away all influences upon the will of man so as to make it sovereign in itself they have negated effectiveness of the work of Christ. Prevenient grace essentially claims that the death of Christ didn’t save anyone, but merely made man savable if we provide our part with it. Per prevenient grace, Jesus’ death only accomplishes the task of placing us back in some sort of pre-Adamic state to where we can decide our own fate for ourselves. This makes the work of the Trinity ineffectual unless we work with it. For although, as they claim, Jesus has done the same work for every man, and the Holy Spirit has given prevenient grace to every man (or at least every man who hears the gospel), the only difference between the man in heaven and the man in hell is the man himself – the work that he has done.

Standing or falling on his own merit, the man is taught to say alongside William Earnest Henley:

“I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.”


A Parable:

The Arminian kingdom of heaven is like an architect who lived during the boom of the American economy. He was extremely good at his job. Josh, the architect, had an enemy who was massively cruel. Every building Josh would erect, Stan ( his opponent) would attempt to destroy. Josh decided to build the peak of His architectural feats. He was going to build the world’s largest residential complex. It would house all the known population of New York city. In this complex, one could commute to work, live, swim, spend time at a park, etc all without ever leaving the building. There was no pollution, no disease, and one wouldn’t even feel as if he were indoors when playing in the indoor parks, or pools, or whatever. On top of that electricity was half the cost than power outside of the complex. This was the utopia of New York City.
Josh knew Stan well though. He knew Stan would try to wreak havoc on not only the structure itself, but on the residents who would live in it. He knew Stan so well that he knew exactly how Stan would go about attempting to destroy the building and the people in it. Knowing this Josh took an extra precaution. He made a way in which the people could get out of the building – a trap door that Stan didn’t know about.
As a matter of fact, hardly anyone knew about it. The handful of people that did know didn’t tell everybody about it either. So when Stan detonated the bombs, and set fire to the edifice, many perished because they didn’t know about the trap door. Some knew about it, but just figured the little rumble they heard from the 100+ floors below was just thunder and there was no need to panic. Others jumped out the windows because they heard the bombs but didn’t believe the trap door was really their way of escape. And others chose to walk through the door, some really believing what they were told and others just trying it hoping it would work, not really believing at all but having no other viable option.

Now questions:
1. Was Josh really their savior or did he just make a way for them to save themselves if they chose to?
2. If Josh did the same thing for every resident in the building, and some of them weren’t saved by what Josh did – was it Josh that made the difference between life and death for them?
3. Was it possible, based on the effectiveness of Josh’s work; for no one to have been saved and all die in the burning building had they chose to. In other words, could Josh actually make sure his escape plan was effective?
4. If Josh couldn’t guarantee that the residents be saved, and Stan couldn’t guarantee all the residents perish, but it was up to the residents themselves – who has the power to determine the success of the antagonist and protagonist schemes?


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


Covenants:

Today my sister said “I do” to the love of her life. (There’s a good chance my next few post might have somthing to do with the wedding, sorry in advance for those who are like “get off it already!”)

I had the priviledge of ushering in those attending as well as my Maw-Maw (Grandmother on my Mom’s side) and my own Mom. It was a great joy to see lots of my old friends, some I grew up with, some I watch grow up, and some who watched me grow up. I felt like I was getting more hugs than the bride and groom – it’s a blessing to be loved. But back to what I was saying… I would sit people and one of the questions I asked (aside from “would you like a fan?” it was stink’n hot!!) was “Bride or groom?” so I could sit them accordingly. Every wonder why? Ever wonder why we separate the witnesses like that? And then have the bride and groom walking between the two? Then when that part’s over we have a reception. These things make my mind hearken back to the whole covenantal theme. Mind if I explain? Good, ’cause I’m gonn’a! =)

Let’s go back “briefly” to Genesis, chapter 15. God makes a covenant with Abraham, and does a VERY significan thing in that He walks the covenant aisle without Abraham (but I won’t talk about that… for now.) Remember what The LORD was walking between? Halves of animals. That’s vital, for those halves had meaning. One of the things represented by them was the covenant curse. What was said at such a ceremony was something to the effect of “If I don’t uphold my covenant promise, my what happened to these animals be my lot!” Now the meaning of The LORD walking through alone takes on more form. Had God permitted Abraham to walk through, Abraham surley would have invoked the curse on himself. But God promised to make of Abraham a great nation, God promised to redeem all nations through Abraham’s Seed. God needed no help from Abraham. Had Abraham gotten involved, had it been contingent upon Abraham keeping some part of the deal, then it would not have come to fruition. He proves that later when he tries to help God out and just creates a problem with Hagar. Then he lies about who his wife is, claiming she is his sister, and “jeopardized” God’s promise by giving a king free reign to sleep with his own wife! God kept the king from doing so, but look at how the man that every Jew aspires to be like, and every Christian stands in awe of, was lacking faith right when it seemed to matter most!   

In the covenant ceremony, those halfed animal parts were reminders, helpers if you will, to spur the two parties that walk between them (humanly speaking, as God needs no incentive to keep covenant) of the seriousness of their vow and the curse for breaking it. So all those witnesses present have a responsiblity to help the newly married couple, and encourage them in their covenant keeping toward each other.

I’ve got nothing surprising to share really, other than that one of things the wedding did was take me back to Genesis and see God walking through the halves as He was making a covenant. That a covenant contains precious promises, witnesses, responsibilities, and curses for breaking it.

I will say this in closing, maybe you will see why I am so fascinated with covenants. God gave Adam what theologians call “The Covenant of Works” in the garden. Through Adam’s disobedience, he invoked the curse on all of humanity. But there is another covenant, one that was made among the persons of the Trinity. One where the Father covenanted with The Son to give Him a people, those for whom He would die for. The Son became flesh and was made a curse for men. The very covenantal curse that was on me, He took on Himself. He, Who knew no sin, became sin for me. He ransomed sinners by His death, and The Father is brining those sinners to His Son, Jesus Christ. There will be a day when all creation will witness the Son meeting His bride face to face. We will then enjoy the marriage supper of the Lamb – a reception like no other!

Just something that went through my mind today as wedding stuff was taking place – Covenants.


The devil is in the details:

I was looking at some reviews of the “Iron Man 2” movie. The Christian based website I was on rightly attempted to give parents a resource for turning movie viewing time into an opportunity to teach the children. This is very biblical, and as a parent I must confess that I fail many times in turning every moment into a teaching moment. But not only is seizing that moment vital, but what you teach in that moment is vital. Here is their recommendation:

“A single man or woman can help change the world. Read about some who did with faith and God’s help…
Jesus Christ, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David”

Now I’m not knocking the website and saying it is trash. I think the site has some helpful things to offer. I want to use this to point out something concerning synergism. Synergism is the idea of two parties working together to accomplish a goal. This isn’t the same as a carpenter using a hammer to drive a nail. In synergism, both parties are active and dependent upon the other. In the carpenter instance, the tool is passive and the carpenter could just have easily completed the job through some other chosen means – AKA nail gun.
This “God needs me” mentality is prevalent in society as it is what comes naturally to us. We tend to think of ourselves more highly than we out to think. Even among believers, this mentality oozes out. Let me show you the difference:
Synergism – “Joseph changed the world with God’s help.”
Monergism – “God used Joseph to change the world.”

It may seem subtle, but they say the devil is in the details.
Look again:

Synergism – “God voted for you, Satan voted against you, and it’s up to you to cast the deciding vote!”
Monergism – “But God…even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”.

What are we teaching our children?


Sola Fide Gone Wrong:

The power of faith - "I believe there were no gas chambers."

Sola Fide is a doctrine that the church was brought back to during the reformation. It has been said that it is the hinge upon which the door of salvation turns. It is Latin for “Faith Alone” and is the doctrine that teaches that God’s pardon of guilty sinners is received through faith alone (all works excluded). But it is my contention today that many in the church have taken this vital biblical principle and really “booger-ed it up”.

It seems that today, faith has become the anchor for our souls. People find their assurance of their salvation by looking at their faith – they’re told to do this by the leaders in the church. When doubts arise and they need something to cling to they are told to look introspectively and cling to their faith. This is like a man who’s falling, looking for something to hang on to, grasps his other hand tightly and expecting that to support him. The passages we pull out of context to support this are ones that say something like this: “Believe on The LORD Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved!” or “if you confess with your mouth The LORD Jesus Christ and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from that dead you shall be saved”. What happens is a twisted doctrine of Sola Fide. Somehow we have come to believe that our faith alone saves us. We put our faith in faith. Jesus becomes more abstract – a thing to give mental assent to so we can check that box in our list of things to believe. When doubts come we get our checklist out and say:

“Jesus is God’s Son” – CHECK!

“Jesus died on the cross” – CHECK!

“Jesus rose from the dead” – CHECK!

“Jesus is coming back” – CHECK!

We then turn to Satan, or maybe one of his lesser demons if we are more humble, and say “See there?! I’m saved! I got it all checked. I believe!” Or we tell God, “God, you have to save me. You can’t let me go to hell. You said if I believed then I wouldn’t go to hell. I believe these things, so there!” And rest on our faith.

We’re fine until we come across Matt 7 in our devotional time: “Many will say unto Me in that day, ‘LORD, LORD, did we not prophesy in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and do many wondrous works in Your name?’ and I will say to them, ‘ Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness, I never knew you!’ ” And the doubts flood in again. These guys had all the boxes checked! The confessed with their mouth! They called Him “LORD” twice for crying out loud! What more could you do? Like the man falling into the abyss, we cling all the more tightly to our own sweaty palm trying to convince ourselves we aren’t really falling.

Where did it go wrong? Doesn’t “Sola Fide” mean faith alone? I believe it has gone wrong with the fundamental way today’s church views the gospel. We have stripped it of it’s efficacy in attempts to give it efficacy. In striving to “recruit” men and women into the faith, we have bled the power out of it. God justifies men/women, and He has done so through the life of Jesus (I speak of His life, death, and resurrection). We are telling people that Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that (and we fill the blank with multiple options)

      1. You would see how much God loves you
      2. Because He couldn’t bear to live without you
      3. So that God could forgive you if you ask Him to (just to name a few)

The fundamental message we give is the same regardless of how we fill in the blank – “Jesus did what He did as an attempt to get you to do what you need to do so you won’t go to hell.” It’s like telling a man to sit where there is no chair but once he sits the chair will magically appear. As good as this may sound, and as well intentioned as the people are who speak it, it is hideously wrong. Having bled Jesus’ work of all real efficacy, we promise the individual that it will really work if he only believes in it. It is His work that saves me, not my faith in His work. I am not saying that men/women are saved regardless of whether they believe or not. I am not excluding faith and the means by which we receive justification. I am saying it is not the grounds of my justification. This is where we have gone wrong with the necessarily wonderful doctrine of “Faith Alone”. Faith is powerless in itself. Stripped naked, it is pure trust – belief. It is incapable of making a thing true or false. It doesn’t give life to the dead. It won’t crank a car with no motor – it won’t even crank a car with a motor. It is absolutely powerless to make things other than they already are, and it can’t make a chair appear if there isn’t one there already. This is the problem. After offering people an atonement that has not atoned we tell them that it can become a real atonement if they believe in it. Then when doubts come, where have we conditioned them to seek solace? Jesus? Not on their life. They were convinced that their faith made the difference so the go check to make sure they’re still saying “yes” to all the right things. Ask them why they know they’re going to heaven and the general reply is “Because I’ve placed my faith in Jesus Christ!” Not a bad answer if they mean God has promised that He justified sinners through His Son and we can rest on that; but it has been my experience that they don’t mean that. They mean exactly how it’s worded, “Because I did X”.

Do you see the difference? One grounds the basis of their salvation in their faith, the other grounds the basis of their salvation in God. This self-centered sola fide is shaky stuff. How do I know I have enough faith? What if I think I believe, but I really don’t believe and I’m just fooling myself? How do I really know I believe? And then we set out to prove to ourselves we believe: vow to spend no less than 5 minutes a day reading the Bible, go to church every time the doors are open, pass out tracts, tithe, the list is endless. Nothing is wrong with these things, but when they are done to prop up our failing faith then it’s nothing short of legalism (which is a whole other issue). These actions, and others like it, aren’t props for our faith, but outgrowths of it. I attend a local assembly of believers BECAUSE I believe the gospel, not because somehow it a way of showing myself, or others, that I still believe.

Whenever we put man at the center then we get all sorts of poor doctrine. And doctrine directly affects us in the everyday practicalities of life. So, by God’s grace, let’s stop offering men a saving machine that has the power to save them if they just make it run by using their faith to operate it and give them a Savior Who really saves. If I can do nothing to redeem myself from sin, don’t offer me an impotent redemption that can’t actually redeem me without my doing something. I need a Savior!

I hear it all depends on my faith
So I’m feeling precarious
The only problem I have with these mysteries
Is they’re so mysterious

And like a consumer I’ve been thinking
If I could just get a bit more
More than my 15 minutes of faith,
Then I’d be secure

My faith is like shifting sand
Changed by every wave
My faith is like shifting sand
So I stand on grace

(lyrics from “Shifting Sand” by Caedmon’s Call)


All of Grace, or do we just say that?

I have dear loved ones who say that God must graciously call us, but we are the final determiners on whether God saves us or not. These same people wish to say that they are saved by God’s grace, but it’s not Grace alone that sets them apart from the unbeliever, it is their response to this grace that sets them apart.

It seems, from speaking with these people, that the Scriptures very clearly teach that the hinge of salvation is our free-will decision they just can’t exegetically show where, or that there isn’t enough Scriptural support for the doctrine that men are saved totally by the grace of God and that our faith is even a result of His grace so that we can not boast at all.

I have taken this challenge  to go to Scripture and demonstrate that the idea that God calls but we must decide whether His call accomplishes it’s intended purpose or not is a philosophical addition by man; and that Scripture is abundantly clear that men are saved {from start to finish} by the gracious work of God and God alone.

Let’s begin with I Corinthians 1:18-30

“18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, [2] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being [3] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him [4] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  ”

Things to note:

1.  vs 18The cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.  We are all perishing as we are born wicked and God-hating. (Romans 3) So  how is it that the cross changes from foolishness to wisdom?

2.  vs 21. It pleases God to save those who believe. How is it that some believe and others don’t? Is God pleased to save those who, of their own free-will, meet His condition of faith? Or is God pleased to save a group of men and that group manifests itself as believers?

3. vs 22. Again Paul tells us that Christ is unbelievable to both Jews and Gentiles ,so no man will believe in Him. so why do some men believe?

Answers found in the text to the questions begged by the text.

1. vs. 24  Concerning why some Jews and Gentiles find Christ the wisdom of God while the rest of the world sees Him as foolish – “but to those who are called…” It is the calling of God that differs between believing Jews and Gentiles and the unbelieving Jews and Gentiles.

2. To the question of why do men believe (even though we have seen it is the call of God that makes men differ in their response) we are told again by Paul in verse 30 “Because of Him [that is God] you are in Christ”. It is by faith that we are in Christ, and Paul here tells us that even that is to be attributed to God.

3.  As to why Christ is seen as wisdom to some and not to others, Paul gives us the same answer as before. See verse 26. We are told to consider the calling they have by God. How that God has chosen and it is in this that makes the difference.

All this brief overview begs a question: Why is this so important? Why does it matter whether we think We are saved by God’s grace alone or by a cooperation on our part with God’s grace?

A: vs. 31 “Let the one who boasts, boast in The LORD”.


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.”


A hymn of truth:

Contemplate these words:
AWAKENED BY SINAI’S AWFUL SOUND

“Awaked by Sinai’s awful sound,
My soul in bonds of guilt I found,
And knew not where to go;
Eternal truth did loud proclaim,
“The sinner must be born again,
Or sink to endless woe.”

Amazed I stood, but could not tell
Which way to shun the gates of hell,
For death and hell drew near;
I strove, indeed, but strove in vain;
“The sinner must be born again”
Still sounded in my ear.

When to the law I trembling fled,
It poured its curses on my head;
I no relief could find.
This fearful truth increased my pain;
“The sinner must be born again”
O’erwhelmed my tortured mind.

The saints I heard with rapture tell
How Jesus conquered death and hell,
And broke the fowler’s snare;
Yet when I found this truth remain,
“The sinner must be born again,”
I sank in deep despair.

But while I thus in anguish lay,
The gracious Savior passed this way,
And felt His pity move;
The sinner, by His justice slain,
Now by His grace is born again;
And sings redeeming love.”

To get more information on the hymn and it’s composer visit:
http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/a/w/awakedby.htm


God’s Part and Man’s Part in Salvation:

As opposed to me stumbling through this topic trying to express it, permit me to direct you to an article that is well written and very definitive on the subject.

It is a bit lengthy for a quick blog read, but I assure you it is well worth it.

http://www.soundofgrace.com/jgr/index005.htm

This article is by John Reisinger. I have a link to his site here on my blog (Sound of Grace), yet I want to direct your attention to this as I find it extremely helpful.

May The LORD guide you by His Spirit.