Friday, August 19, 2011

Of Repentance Unto Life And Salvation

  1. Such of the elect as are converted at riper years, having sometime lived in the state of nature, and therein served divers lusts and pleasures, God in their effectual calling giveth them repentance unto life. Titus 3:2-5.
  2. Whereas there is none that doth good and sinneth not, and the best of men may, through the power and deceitfulness of the corruption dwelling in them, with the prevalency of temptation, fall into great sin and provocations; God hath, in the covenant of grace, mercifully provided that believers so sinning and falling be renewed through repentance unto salvation. Ecc. 7:20; Luke 22:31, 32.
  3. This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all wellpleasing in all things. Zech. 12:10; Acts 11:18; Ezek. 36:31; 2 Cor. 7:11; Ps. 119:6, 128.
  4. As repentance is to be continued through the whole course of our lives, upon the account of the body of death, and the motions thereof, so it is every man's duty to repent of his particular known sins particularly. Luke 19:8; 1 Tim. 1:13, 15.
  5. Such is the provision which God hath made through Christ in the covenant of grace for the preservation of believers unto salvation, that although there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation, yet there is no sin so great that it shall bring damnation on them that repent, which makes the constant preaching of repentance necessary. Rom. 6:23; Isa. 1:16-18; 55:7.
(The Second London Baptist Confession of 1689)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Do You Hate Evil?

All those who profess Christ as their Lord and Savior should hate evil. How many don't? Could this be the reason so many professing Christians, those who proclaim they are truly born again, do not meet the test of 1 John 2:6, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (NKJV)?

I think the answer to the question is frightening. Someone who says he or she abides in Christ and does not hate evil is not a Christian. And, the first thing, the VERY first thing many immediately jump to is that I am “expecting sinless perfection.”

Let me go on record: I am not talking about sinless perfection. First of all, that false doctrine is not biblical, and secondly, the sinless perfection accusation seems to always be the last ditch effort of someone unable to handle the argument. In fact, when Jesus taught His disciples to pray, he told them to pray to the Father: “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:14 NKJV). Christ and evil do not mix, do not go hand in hand, and those who do not reject evil as a way of life are not Christians!

If you are truly regenerated, born again, by the Spirit of God then the inclination or bent of your life should be one that hates evil. That is how Christ walked. He hated evil. He died to conquer evil. What's your excuse?

Think of what evil did to you when you were born into this world. You were not only born with an evil, sinful nature but you were also conceived in sin (Psalms 51:5). Your innate evil nature made you unable to hear, understand, or respond to the claims of Jesus Christ revealed in the Gospel (Romans 3:10-18; Ephesians 2:1-10; Romans 8:7; Colossians 1:21; James 1:14, 15; Matthew 15:19).

"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Note the phrase: “...nor can he know them...” the man born into evil has not even the ability, to exercise himself Godward. This is what evil has done to the human race.

So evil were we, in fact, that in order for God to get through to us with His Gospel, the Son of God had to become the God-Man, die on a cross for sin, resurrect, and ascend to His royal place at the right hand of the Throne of God (Ephesians 1:19-22). Then, while we were yet dead in our sins and could not—unable to know the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14), God had to draw us to the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (John 6:44). We could not come otherwise. Then God had to, while we were still dead and unable to come to Christ, make us alive in Christ, saving us by His Grace:

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),” (Ephesians 2:1-5)

Tell me, is this not reason enough to hate evil?

Monday, June 20, 2011

I haven't been in a Christian Bookstore in years. It isn't that I don't like them or that I made a decision to avoid them. It's that I live in another country and there are few “Christian Bookstores” and those that exist can be hard to find. I can recall, however, when frequenting Christian Bookstore in America that there always seemed to me to be a ton of books devoted to “Victory,” “How to be Victorious in the Christian Life,” or “We are More than Conquerors.” These types of books lined the shelves.

I have to admit I never purchased any of these books but was always curious to note how many variations there were of the general theme of how to overcome the circumstances of life that seem to come in the form of trials and tribulations in the Christian's walk with God. Whether these books were correct in their doctrine and consequent advise I do not know, but I have been thinking lately of what the Bible teaches with regard to this issue. And, after all, it is the Bible we want to consult as the final authority for faith in practice.

First of all, the Bible does indeed say that in the midst of circumstances we are “more than conquerors through Christ.”

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? According as it is written, For thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we have been reckoned as sheep for slaughter. But in all these things we more than conquer through him that has loved us." (Romans 8:35-37; Darby)

The Apostle Paul, who penned these words, spoke under the most incredibly and dramatic circumstances in bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to his countrymen and Gentiles. And yet, he was, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, convinced to say that in the horror that he had to suffer for the cause of Christ, he “more than conquered through Christ who loved him.” Another version puts it like this: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37; NJKV)

Now, dear Reader, your circumstances in life may not even come close to rivaling those of the Apostle. You may be in the battle of trying to trust God in situations of your own making with the fault lying squarely on your shoulders for the mess you find yourself in. I cannot count the times where this has been true in my life. The trials and tribulations (or even temptations) were of my own doing and in what a mess I found myself involved. What is one to do?

No matter the circumstances, God's Word is true. We can be more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. No matter the degree of the severity of the trial, let me make some suggestions.

Number One: Examine yourself. Take whatever time you need to be alone and pray. Ask God to open your understanding to what actually is happening to you. Ask God to show you how, if at all, you have sinned in this trial and then confess your sin to God (1 John 1:9).

Number Two: Continue to read in 1 John, specifically 1 John chapters 2-3, paying close attention to 1 John 2: 3-11. Examine your part in your trials or tribulations to see, as says ch.2: 6, whether you have been abiding in Christ and walking as Christ walked when He was on this earth. Confess any sin after this self-examination.

Number Three: Give thanks for the situation in which you find yourself. Some who claim to be true believers will look at you like you have a hole in your head when you ask them if they have given thanks for the cancer diagnosis just given to them or to a family member. But, this is what God says to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”

Number Four: Granted, there are trials and tribulations that God will in His Sovereign Grace allow or direct to happen in your life where it is absolutely due to no fault of your own. I know this from personal experience. I suffer from a syndrome that afflicts me with a number of maladies that pretty much torture me night and day. The medicines work, sometimes, to alleviate the pain but God has seen fit not to heal me from this incurable disease.

Then there are trials and tribulations that are indeed due to our own disobedience to the commands of God. A cheating spouse destroys not only his or her mate but also the children, relatives, friends, and the cheater; someone who is dishonest in filing tax returns does untold damage to conscience and reputation; someone who drives drunk and wipes out an entire family does seemingly irreparable harm to scores. Is a Christian to give thanks for these tribulations? Yes. In fact, glory in them.

"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." (Romans 5:3-5; KJV)

Number Five: What about trials and tribulations that are the result of yielding to sin that we know is wrong? First of all, how do we as believers know the difference between right and wrong? Through His Word, God tells us and He does so plainly. What God says in His Word to seek, we seek. What God tells us to avoid, we avoid. Not to do so essentially demonstrates the truth I cited about in 1 John:

"But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (1 John 2:5-6; NKJV)

If you are not keeping His Word so that what can be said that characterizes you is that you are walking as Jesus Christ walked, then it is time for some deep soul searching questions: “Are you even truly saved, born again?”

If you find you are really in the faith, then how about beginning to do what is so obvious: AVOID THE TEMPTATION TO WHICH YOU HAVE BEEN YIELDING AND WHICH HAS CAUSED SORE TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS?

How about walking in the way of obedience, rather than disobedience, to God's Word. This of course implies you having to get to know what that Bible that is sitting on your shelf collecting dust actually says. Do not give the Devil the chance or opportunity to tempt you. Are you praying to be spared the temptation? Are you asking God to “lead you not into temptation but to deliver you from the Evil One (Satan)? Did you know this exactly what the Lord Jesus told His disciples as the very thing to have victory over the temptations to which we so often yield causing so much heartache (those pesky trials and tribulations) in our lives?

"Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak." (Mark 14:38;)

Our Lord and Savior, Who by the way was tempted in all things as we yet without sin (see Hebrews 4:15), exhorted His disciples to do this very thing lest they fall into (yield) the temptations: “Watch and pray!” These were His very words to His disciples, Christ's doctrine, for avoiding and yielding to the temptations that, if yielded to, bring on all manner of trials and tribulations.

"For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted." (Hebrews 2:18)

Whether your trial and tribulation is the result of Providence or because you yielded to sin, we as Christians have got to be ready “in season or out” for the eventuality of temptations and trials. It is going to happen. And, Christ’s advice, His very words, is to “watch and pray, lest you fall into temptation.”

Always be on the watch because the Devil himself is for those from whom he can rob God of the glory He so richly and rightly deserves.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Faith and Trust as a Rule of Life

Many times we as Christians regard faith as something we use when we need something from God. The car is going on the fritz and what do we do, we pray. The kid is sick, and sometimes seriously, we pray. The church needs a new roof, we pray. We should indeed pray for these things. After all, did not Paul tell the Philippian church that, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus?” (Phil. 4:19) If it is a need, we should pray, right?

The problem I have is with the word use. It sounds like how we use a screwdriver when we want to tighten a bolt, or when we want to use the right kitchen implement. Is faith a “tool” we get out of the “prayer shed” when we have a need for it and then put it away when were done with it and until the next time we need to use it?

Faith is not to be regarded as a tool that we need to use when a need arises. It is not to be thought of as something we only get out of the drawer when something goes wrong and then put it away when things cool down. Faith is the rule, practice, moment by moment manner of life, and not the exception, by which we live in the physical and spiritual world. It is not something we use when we are in trouble. A true child of God, a real Christian, lives by faith as a rule of life.

Look at this text of Scripture:

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6,7)

Another translation put the clause, “In the same way you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him...”

How did you receive Christ Jesus the Lord? According to Ephesians 2: 8,9 it was “by grace through the instrumentality of faith,” that we were brought to faith and trust in Christ Jesus. The text goes on to tell us that it was the act of God alone and not of ourselves. Even the faith to believe was a gift of God. We could not generate the necessary faith. God had to make us alive from the dead, regenerate us, in order that we might believe unto salvation.

In that way, the way in which we were brought to faith in Christ, is how Colossians 2:6 and 7 tells us we are to walk in Him. By grace through the instrumentality of faith we are to walk in Christ. That is how we received Christ Jesus as Lord and that is how we are to walk in Him!

I want to make a connection between what I just said and the Word of God.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

In the tenth chapter of Romans, Paul speaks to the Gospel and shows us another instrumentality by which we were brought to faith and trust in Christ: by the hearing of the Word of God. Beginning with the 14th verse of chapter ten, he makes the point that it is through the preaching of the Word of God that the Gospel message is heard. Linked to the Colossians 2:6,7 text, “In the same way you received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in Him,” we could also say that it is through the hearing of the Word that we are to walk in Him. Just as faith to believe savingly comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, so does faith to walk in Him come by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Do you see that?

In other words, faith exercised in prayer is not a Sears and Roebuck mail order catalog to order what we think we need from a deity. Faith is the instrumentality, means, by which we not only come to faith in Christ but how we are to live in this world. It is by faith in God and His Word that we live as a rule of life if we are truly born again.

I want to share a very practical application to what I have just written. If we are to live (walk) by faith in God and the promises of His Word, how exactly does that work? What does this look like in the life of the believer?

Take for example Paul's explanation in Galatians:

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (Galatians 5:6,7)

Does not this pretty well sum up the point in the Christian's life? Walk in the Spirit and you will not do the evil within your sinful flesh that you do not wish to do? (See Romans 7) But how do you do this thing of “Walking in the Spirit?”

Now, in 1 John:

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14,15

And, Philippians:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2;12,13)
Now, think with me through this:

1. Does God want us (Is it His will?) to Walk in His Spirit that we not fulfill the lusts of our flesh? According to the Galatians 5 text the answer is, yes.

2. Does God promise that whatever we ask according to His will that He not only hears us, but we can know that we have that which we have asked of Him in 1 John? Yes.

3. Does God tell us in Philippians that we can “work out our salvation (Walk in the Spirit) with fear and trembling because it is He, and He alone, who works in us the desire and the doing of His good pleasure (His will)?” Yes.

Then as a child of God go to Him praying in believing faith:

My Lord and God, I thank you for the promise in Your Word (1 John 5:14,15) which tells me that whatsoever I ask according to Your will that You hear me. And, if I know that You hear me in whatsoever I asked I can know that I have that which I have asked of You. Therefore, grant me the Grace I need to obey your Word where you command me to Walk in Your Spirit (Gal. 5:16,17) that I not fulfill the desires of my flesh. Thank-you that it is, again according to You Word, You Who is working in me this desire and it is You and You alone that will work in me the doing (Phil. 2:12,13) of walking in the Spirit. I ask these things in Jesus' name Who said that whatsoever I ask in His name You would give me (John 15:6-8). Amen.”

While I do not mean that you should pray this pray literally, what I am meaning is to show you the connection between prayer, faith, and the Word of God. What is expressed in that prayer example is a life ruled by faith in God and the promises of His Word. That is what should characterize the life of the believer. That is the principle by which we should be living if we really are men and women of God.

Do you have a need in your life? Whether it is a physical or spiritual need, find in God's Word a text of Scripture that matches that need then claim it according to the promises of His Word. Have as your heart's desire the glory of God in His answering that prayer:

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15:7-8)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof - 1689 LBC - 2

They being the root, and by God's appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free.
( Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22, 45, 49; Psalms 51:5; Job 14:4; Ephesians 2:3; Romans 6:20 Romans 5:12; Hebrews 2:14, 15; 1 Thessalonians 1:10 )

From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.
( Romans 8:7; Colossians 1:21; James 1:14, 15; Matthew 15:19 )

The corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be through Christ pardoned and mortified, yet both itself, and the first motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.
( Romans 7:18,23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; 1 John 1:8; Romans 7:23-25; Galatians 5:17 )

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof - 1689 LBC - 1

Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, which had been unto life had he kept it, and threatened death upon the breach thereof, yet he did not long abide in this honour; Satan using the subtlety of the serpent to subdue Eve, then by her seducing Adam, who, without any compulsion, did willfully transgress the law of their creation, and the command given unto them, in eating the forbidden fruit, which God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.
( Genesis 2:16, 17; Genesis 3:12,13; 2 Corinthians 11:3 )

Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.
( Romans 3:23; Romans 5:12, etc; Titus 1:15; Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-19 )

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Salvation Is Of God and Not Man

It was a decision made before the world was. Before the existence of any human or animal, before the creation of the heavens and the planets, before time itself, the Triune God made a Divine decision. As God in His Word so perfectly phrases it, “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4) He chose us. To what did the Divine choose us and why did He do it? The Ephesians 1 text elaborates:

"just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved." (Ephesians 1:4-6)

Please note three things from this text:

One: We were chosen before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.

Two: We were chosen before the foundation of the world through “predestination unto adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself.”

Three: We were chosen before the foundation of the world according to the good pleasure of His will to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the beloved.

1) If you are believer, a true Christian with a sincere and visible profession of faith in the Lord and Savior, then it is not because you at some point in your life “decided as an act of your will to invite Jesus into your heart.” If you today believe in Christ as your Lord and Savior, it is because God made a decision. He made a choice before time even was that you should be “holy and blameless before Him in love.”

"Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace." (THE BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH 1689)

2) Predestination is that act of God whereby certain individuals, based absolutely on no merit of their own but entirely and infallibly due to “the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace” (See Ephesians 1:4-6), were chosen, ordained, elected to be brought to faith in Christ Jesus.

"What did God determine ahead of time? According to Romans 8:29-30, God predetermined that certain individuals would be conformed to the likeness of His Son, be called, justified, and glorified. Essentially, God predetermines that certain individuals will be saved. Numerous scriptures refer to believers in Christ being chosen. Predestination is the biblical doctrine that God in His sovereignty chooses certain individuals to be saved." (

"As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so he hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto; wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by his Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only." (THE BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH 1689)

3) God does nothing arbitrarily or capriciously. He acts according to the “good pleasure of His will” and is perfectly righteous in choosing some unto salvation while leaving others to the evil passion and desires of their fallen souls who freely, according to their sinful natures, choose to reject The Son of God. The Bible says plainly that salvation is not man who makes a “decision based on an act of His free will”—man has no free will—but according to God who has mercy on Whom He wills. (Romans 9:1-13)

Jonathan Edwards said,

The sovereignty of God is his absolute, independent right of disposing of all creatures according to his own pleasure.” Then he went on to say, “God can either bestow salvation on any of the children of men, or refuse it, without any prejudice to the glory of any of his attributes”

"God is the king of the universe and he has all the power, the right to rule and carry out his will according to his own pleasure. When we say his own pleasure that means, God is not obligated to anyone, he has the full liberty, full freedom and he is fully independent. No human being how rich they are do not have this kind of pleasure, as all humans have an obligation to somebody and they are not fully independent, but God is fully independent and can do any thing according to his pleasure without any damage to his attributes." (

(For further study read: Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:11; Hebrews 6:17; Romans 9:15, 18; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5; Acts 4:27, 28; John 19:11; Numbers 23:19; Ephesians 1:3-5; 1 Timothy 5:21; Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:5, 6; Romans 9:22, 23; Jude 4; Romans 9; Ephesians 1 & 2;Romans 5:6; Romans 8:7; Ephesians 2:1, 5; Titus 3:3-5; John 6:44 ... See also THE BAPTIST CONFESSION OF FAITH--With Scripture Proofs Adopted by the Ministers and Messengers of the general assembly which met in London in 1689) 

Recommended Reading

Monday, June 6, 2011

Inviting Christ Into Your Heart: But there are none who do good

If you are a child of God today it is because God chose you unto salvation from before the foundation of the world, even time itself. It is a choice made in eternal love by the Triune God (Ephesians 1:3-6). God's electing Grace in which He chose some to eternal life while passing by others was an eternal exercise of the Divine volition with eternal motive and intent.

This is a Divine act worth our feeble human thought and pondering on a daily basis. For it was the Divine intent and motive to save us not only from our sin-wrecked lives but also to purify us (Titus 2: 11-15) and set us apart (sanctification) unto a holy manner of life and to eventually glorify us. His infinite and unchanging character guaranteed that His eternal volition to save us would be carried out in our behalf. There is never the risk of those whom He has chosen of not coming to saving faith in Christ.

But lest you, O Reader, become arrogant over this, rest assured that God choosing you to come to faith in Christ Jesus was not because of something He saw in you. It was NOT because of some foreseen exercise of your will He saw from eternity past. It was from the sheer collective pool of fallen humanity, all without exception deserving eternal damnation, that God elected some and did not elect others unto salvation.

So prevalent in Evangelicalism today is this idea that the basis of one's salvation goes something like this:

I am a Christian because I once made a decision based on an act of my will to invite Jesus into my heart...”

What one is saying in making this sort of profession of faith is that becoming a Christian is based squarely upon the decisive act of human volition. In other words, when push comes to shove, getting saved, or not saved, is dependent upon a human being deciding to accept Jesus into their hearts or to reject Him. This makes salvation a human work, does it not?

Let me further illustrate this: Let's say for the sake of argument that it is a correct proposition that getting saved is dependent upon someone hearing the facts of the Gospel and making a positive decision to invite Christ into his or her heart. The questions that come to my mind are as follows:

Would inviting Christ into your heart be a righteous decision? The obvious answer is, of course, yes. It certainly is not an unrighteous decision. However, in Romans 3:10 it says that man is not able to make a righteous decision:

As it is written: There is none righteous, no not one;” Romans 3:10

Would not inviting Christ into your heart have to imply a certain level of understanding of the facts of the Gospel and what is involved with a certain degree of a seeking after God? However, it says in Romans 3:11 that there is none who understands or who seeks God.

There is none who understands, there is none who seeks God.” Romans 3:11

And, this description of man in Romans 3 under sin gets worse and worse as we read:

12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
13 “ Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;

The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “ Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “ Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “ There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

So the problem I have with this idea that dominates the Evangelical churches today that man, when he hears the facts of the Gospel, will either choose, as an act of his human will, to receive Christ into his heart or reject Christ is, HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE based on the description of all mankind under sin as Paul wrote in Romans 3:10 -18? How is it that any man, woman, or child can exercise their volition Godward in a salvific sense?

Note the carefully what the text says:

There is no one who has the righteousness to come to God through His Son in saving faith (vs. 10)

There is no one who is able to understand the things of God much less seek him (vs. 11).

There is no one who is able to exercise his or her will Godward in saving faith because being under sin (Rom. 3:9) ALL have turned aside and become unprofitable (Rom. 3:12)

There is no one who has the goodness that coming to Christ would most certainly require. I mean, can we agree that it would be a good thing, a good and excellent decision, to come to Christ and invite Him into your heart? The Bible says: “There is none who does good, no not one (Romans 3: 12).

The list goes on ending with verse 18: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

So this idea that saving faith is when someone makes a decision as an act of his or her human will doesn't work. It is apparently, according to Romans 3:10-18, in error. It is wrong. Man is not able to exercise himself Godward in saving faith because in his humanity he is under sin.

The Apostle Paul elaborates on his Romans 3 description of man's inability in Ephesians 2:1-10 and it isn't any better a picture of man's fallen nature. Man, writes the Apostle, is:
1.) Dead in his trespasses and sins.
2.) Walking in the course of this world according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan).
3.) Conducting himself or herself as a son or a daughter of disobedience in the lusts of the flesh and conducting himself or herself in the lust of his or her flesh and mind.
4.) By nature a child of wrath.

If this is the state of man's nature, how can anyone exercise his or her spiritually dead human will Godward in saving faith? How is it even possible? How does a human being who is dead in sin, walking according to the Devil (see point #2 above), behaving as a child of disobedience, living in his or her flesh, and is, by nature, a child of wrath make a righteous decision Godward? How?

It is not up to your fallen human will to make a decision Godward. If you are a believer today, truly born again, it is because God, in His infinite and rich mercy, chose you. You did not choose Him, but He chose you.

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44)

Those whom God the Father has chosen in God's timing draws those to Christ.

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37)

Those whom God the Father has chosen unto salvation He, in God's timing, not only gives to the Son, but those whom He gives to the Son will come.

But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” (John 10:26-29)

To try and sum this all up: The above text makes the case plainly. It is His sheep that hear the voice of the Savior and follow Him. If you are a true believer it is not that you made a decision to invite Christ into your heart. It is because God chose you before time itself to be holy and blameless in Christ and predestined you to that end (Ephesians 1:3-4). And, in His timing, while you were yet dead in your sins unable to respond Godwardly, God made you alive together with Christ so that (and not a means to) you could respond in saving faith (See Ephesians 2:1-10). God made you a sheep so that you could hear His voice and follow Him. You did not make yourself a sheep. God did it from start to finish. That is why Paul wrote in Ephesians 2: 1-10:

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:4-9)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Angry Elders

"An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered..." (See context: Titus 1:6-9; Emphasis mine)

“Not quick-tempered.” The word used in the Greek text to convey this idea of “quick temper” is “orgilon.” It means wrath. I think the idea in the Titus text regarding the qualifications of an elder is that an elder is not to be given to exploding often in angry displays of really bad, wrathful behavior. The reasons are obvious. How can an elder manage or rule over the church of God if he cannot rule over his own temper? (See 1 Timothy 3: 5)

The Old Testament book of Proverbs speaks to this very issue.

"A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of wicked intentions is hated."(Proverbs 14:17 NKJV)

A man of quick temper behaves not only foolishly but the conjunction used here, and, in the verse connects a quick-tempered man with a man of wicked intentions.

"He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, But he who is impulsive exalts folly." (Proverbs 14:29 NKJV)

This verse tells us that someone who is quick-tempered lacks great understanding and that he is impulsive and thus exalts folly.

But, most importantly, the Bible tells us in the Wisdom Book of Proverbs that we are not to even associate with a quick-tempered man:

"Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared." (Proverbs 22:24 - 25 NIV)

An elder in a church who is quick-tempered is NOT qualified to be an elder. In fact, when there are more than two three witnesses (See Matthew 18:16; Deuteronomy 19:15) to this sinful behavior the fact can be confirmed that this is a problem from which the quick-tempered man must repent or step down, or be removed, as an elder.

We are commanded in Scripture not to make friends with or to even associate with such a one making it impossible to submit to the Biblical teaching and or discipline of such an elder.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why We Must Be Tested: God's Sufficient Grace

Let's face it: The trials and tribulations of life that God sovereignly brings into our lives (those which He has ordained before the foundation of the world) are not fun. In fact, they are not pleasant, meaningful, exciting, and, in our carnal minds, we wonder just what is going on and if God has deserted us. The trials and tribulation are so severe sometimes that we find ourselves crying out in despair, unable to eat or drink, and are often so incapacitated by them that we are unable to respond to our families and friends. (See the Old Testament book, Job)

And yet, it is about the trials and tribulations of life that God in His inerrant Word commands us to count or regard as joy when we encounter what can seem to us overwhelming trials of life.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3; NKJV)

Faith never grows so well as when we are under various trials and tribulations. This is a biblical fact and no matter how much we kick and scream against the goads, it is true whether we like it or not. It is the storms of life when the winds are blowing at tornado speeds and wreaking destruction, when the floodwaters rise up to our necks, when faith is the most disciplined and enlightened.

It is often because of the degree of our arrogance that the degree of our tribulation is the greatest. Think about it: The Bible tells us we are but “earthen vessels” all frail, delicate, breakable and yet upon whose sufficiency do we depend to get through life? Our own. Why then do we moan and cry out so when our own sufficiency fails us and we are in trouble as the result? Do we not make it worse when we try to claw our way out of tribulation rather than “count it joy” and depend upon that “treasure” we have in our “earthen vessels” to sustain us?

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10; NKJV)

[May I humbly suggest that the “this treasure” in the above text is the “Grace of God” via the ministry of the Holy Spirit.]

We never regard ourselves so weak, much less as earthen vessels, until we find ourselves in circumstances that knock the wind from our self-sufficient sails. What do earthen vessels do? What can they do but sit around until someone comes along and plants a pretty flower in them or knocks them off the shelf. It is when the earthen vessel hits bottom that the realization of just how weak and fragile it is becomes apparent. It cracks up and breaks.

Don't you see that getting knocked off the shelf is exactly why God not only gives us trials but also often does so in such degree so that we can see just how weak and frail we really are apart from His enabling Grace? We never would confess our sinful self-dependence and reliance apart from being rendered weak from the tribulations that God sends us. We never would know how weak we are apart from the trials and tribulations of life. And it is exactly in the position of weakness where God wants His children because that is when we learn to depend on the power and strength of the Grace of God in the middle of trouble. That's why and how we can “count it all joy when you encounter various trials...”

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10; NKJV)