Big Words of the Christian Life: Omnipresence (Part 2)

June 29, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | Leave a comment
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The presence of God, though invisible in its true essence, is inescapable throughout all of creation.

3.God’s presence is infinite.

God is not limited to any “place” – to any location or “point” of existence. He is truly everywhere all the time. Not only that, but “all of Him” is always present at every point all the time. We could say that He “fills up” the entire universe, but, being finite ourselves, such a concept is difficult to grasp. It might be more useful to think of everything in all of existence existing “within Him.”

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Acts 17:24-28, emphasis added

4. God’s presence is invigorating.

The revelation that God is everywhere should prove to be a great comfort and a great motivation to His people. He does not stand aloof from His creation, and there is no possibility of an opposing regime or faction ultimately establishing itself anywhere within the realm of existence, because He not only supervises each molecule, but reigns absolutely supreme and victorious.

Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

Isaiah 66:1

Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:24

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Ephesians 1:22-23

Big Words of the Christian Life: Omnipresence (Part 1)

April 27, 2018 at 10:55 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 2 Comments
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God is present everywhere all the time. This is a simple thing to say, but a difficult thing to meaningfully grasp. We are finite creatures, and so are all the things we can see and touch and explain with our finite human minds. However, God is infinite and is not limited in the ways that we are.

1. God’s presence is inescapable. 

There is not a place in this universe where we could hide from God. He sees us at all times, and is actually present whenever we say anything, do anything, achieve anything, commit a sin, or find ourselves trapped by circumstances that are beyond our control or are of our own making.

O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Psalm 139:1-12

This could be a comfort or a dread (or at times a bit of both) depending upon our mindset. The fact that God is immanent should serve as an exhortation to holy living, a threat against disobedience, and comforting proof of His love and desire to be intimately present in our lives.

2. God’s presence is invisible.

God, Who is spiritual in nature but also capable of manifesting His presence in glorious brilliance, fills every bit of His creation. He is in the farthest reaches of space and in the most minuscule particle of matter. While He has at times chosen to “reveal” evidence of His presence to biological eyes, for the most part we are called to experience His presence with eyes of faith.

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Colossians 1:16-17

God is immanent and transcendent at the same time. He exists both within and without His creation, and, apart from Him, it could not exist, much less feature organization, complexity, and consistency.

Next time we will see that God’s presence is infinite and invigorating.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Omnipotence (Part 2)

April 9, 2018 at 1:41 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 1 Comment
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Previously, I showed that God’s power is limitless and logical. Now we will see that:

3. God’s power is laudable.

It is right and good to praise God for His power. God’s demonstration of His own attributes is always for the greatest good of His people. As He demonstrates His power, we find the assurance that our God can overcome any enemy and provide absolute protection for us. We were created to praise Him and find our ultimate joy in knowing Him.

Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.

Psalm 21:13

The presence of His power is a key element and motivation in corporate worship, and it is easily observable in His universal creation. Such power fills those who are thinking correctly with sublime joy as they contemplate it and know that they are loved by the wielder of this magnificent power.

Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.

Psalm 150:1-2

4. God’s power is looming.

God’s power is a great comfort to His own children, but it also serves as a great threat looming over the heads of the defiant.

But the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.

II Kings 17:36

God is not prone to uncontrollable fits of rage whereby He unleashes His fury without regard to His own will. No, a significant aspect of His power is the power to CONTROL that very power. However, once His power is directed by His wrath toward one of His creatures, any reasonable person would tremble in abject terror.

Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

Psalm 90:11

We are accustomed to the feeling of fear in this lifetime. However, there is a limit to the power of human beings that places a limit, too, on their ability to terrify us. No such limit exists in God. When we balance the fear of human beings or earthly institutions that might threaten to punish us for obeying God, it really should be no contest as to Whom we should really fear.

And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

Luke 12:4-5

Perhaps the greatest power we hold in our finite human minds and hearts is the power of self-deception, so we should be constantly exposing our feelings and thoughts to the superior power of the Word of God.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

 

Big Words of the Christian Life: Omnipotence (Part 1)

March 16, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 3 Comments
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If you’ve ever seriously studied your way through Jesus’s model prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), by the time you finished the part about being delivered from evil you may have felt a little overwhelmed. To say that there is “a lot to” this short prayer is a massive understatement. However, hopefully you didn’t stop until you reached the very end. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever” is a statement, in and of itself, that contains a wealth of information about God. Recently, as I prayed my way through it, I was struck by the placement of the word “power” in between God’s kingdom and God’s glory. If we think about the awesome power of God, we are reminded of the attribute of God that we call “omnipotence,” and if we study the implications of this attribute we can see that:

1. God’s power is limitless.

Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

Genesis 18:14

Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:

Jeremiah 32:17

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Matthew 19:26

And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Mark 10:27

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Luke 1:37

“Omnipotence” comes from two words: omni, meaning “all,” and potent, meaning “power.” The omni applies to other attributes of God too: “omnipresence,” meaning that God is everywhere all the time at once; “omnscience,” meaning that God knows everything; and “omnibenevolence” meaning that God (and what He does) is always good. We use the idea of “potency” when we think of someone with great authority, and, hence, the power to carry out his will: a “potentate.” We think of it antonymously when we talk about someone who lacks the power to do something: “impotent.” And we even use it to describe health supplements when we somewhat hyperbolically refer to “high-potency” vitamins. To say that God is omnipotent is to say that He’s all-powerful. And He is!

There is nothing that goes beyond His ability. He has the ability to bring forth everything from nothing. He has the ability to carry out His will in the minutest details. He has the freedom – the truest freedom – to choose what He will do, apart from any intrusive or coercive influences, and to do it either by Himself as the primary cause, or through His agency in utilizing as many secondary or intervening causes as He wishes.

It is one thing for even the most powerful human being to come up with an idea for a project, plan the project, labor intensively on the project, and see it through to a hopefully successful, possibly even “perfect,” conclusion. But it is a whole other matter and realm of power to simply speak the words, “Let there be light,” and see a whole universe of matter spring into existence. We can talk about God’s omnipotence, and attempt to define it, and perhaps understand a small measure of it, but to truly comprehend a being with truly UNLIMITED power is beyond our grasp.

That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

I Timothy 6:14-16

Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

Revelation 11:17

To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

Isaiah 40:25-26

2. God’s power is logical.

It is important to remember that, when we make a statement like, “God can do anything,” that we are prepared for skeptics to try to use basic logic to create nonsensical contradictions. “Can God make an object so immovable that He Himself cannot move it?” “Can God make a square circle?” “Can God make Himself cease to exist?” “Can God Himself commit the sins which His Word says He cannot do?”

It is tempting, when addressing these types of challenges (which are essentially just word-plays rather than legitimate questions), to respond with the argument that “logic” itself is a thing outside of God, and that even God can’t perform a true logical contradiction, nor can His power be exercised in logically “impossible” ways. That might be a valid response, but I think it overlooks the bigger picture that, to the extent logic can be considered a “thing,” it is something that arises from the nature of God Himself, as the Creator of all principles, rules, and precepts that exist, “natural” or otherwise, and that, while it might be possible in some way that we do not understand for God to overcome a logical contradiction, He does not in fact do so.

Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

Hebrews 6:17-18

If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

II Timothy 2:13

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

James 1:3

Next time we will see that God’s power is also laudable and looming.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Omniscience (Part 2)

October 19, 2017 at 11:10 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 1 Comment
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Last time, we acknowledged that God’s knowledge is comprehensive, continuous, and constant. Now we will see that it is also complete.

Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?

Isaiah 40:13-14

God does not need any assistance in getting information, or in helping Him to understand or interpret the information He has. Nor does He need anyone to counsel Him as to how to use His information or knowledge. Obviously, the same cannot be said of us. We often need assistance, help, or someone to give us advice. We need teachers, and the Bible says we are foolish if we won’t listen to someone with more experience than us. We need instruction manuals. We have to stop and ask for directions.

But not God. He doesn’t need anyone’s advice. That’s one of the many reasons that we must read and study our Bibles diligently. That’s where God has told us exactly what He wants us to know – no more and no less. Obedience to God’s Word is not bondage or drudgery; it is great freedom. He knows what’s best for us, and when He says, “thou shalt not,” we had better believe there’s a very good reason for it. His Word is not up for debate, because He has spoken it, and caused it to be written, out of His omniscience.

In addition to being complete, God’s knowledge is correct.

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Isaiah 46:9-10

Even the smartest human experts are sometimes proven wrong. There are times when we “know” something without a shadow of a doubt, and then it turns out that we were deceiving ourselves or we were forgetful.

But not God. He is perfect in all His ways, and, in His omniscience He cannot be wrong, mistaken, forgetful, or untrue. He knows everything that will happen, not because He looks ahead in time before making His predictions or prophecies, but because He is infinite and is already present in the “future” now, sovereignly causing or allowing events to occur before anyone else “gets there.” God would score a perfect A+ on any history test, not because He was the one Who wrote the test, but because history is “His story.” He is making it happen, and the future, to Him, already exists in His omniscience.

Because God’s knowledge is comprehensive, continuous, complete, and correct, it is also comforting.

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

I John 3:20

We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but (to use a well-worn but still accurate cliche’) we know Who holds tomorrow. At least I hope you know Him. He knows you – either as His child or as His enemy – either as His “son” or as a sinner. He knows where you’ve been, what you’ve done, what you’re thinking right now, and where you’re going.

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Romans 8:29-32

You are going to see Him – probably much sooner than you think. The determining factor on that day will not be your baptism, your church attendance (or even your membership), or your religious affiliation. No last rites or rosaries or confessions or the record of how good a Samaritan you were will matter at that moment. Your “good” deeds will not be weighed on a scale against your bad deeds. Your parents, your skin color, your bank account, or whether you loved your country – none of that will matter. What will matter is whether you believed and received the eternal Son of the omniscient God.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Omniscience (Part 1)

October 5, 2017 at 9:30 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 12 Comments
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Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.

Psalm 86:8

God is holy – not only in the sense of His sinlessnes (righteousness), but in the sense of His uniqueness. He is the only Being of His kind. Because He is so fundamentally different from us, it is difficult for us to accurately and truly describe Him. We are limited to talking about His characteristics – to “attributing” qualities to Him that we can grasp, which is why they are called His “attributes.”

One characteristic of personhood is that a person who can think, can know things. He can possess information. Some people think they know something about everything. We call them know-it-alls, but God not only knows something about everything – He knows EVERYTHING about everything. We call this attribute “omniscience:” omni = all; science = knowledge.

Our knowledge can only be partial at best, but God’s knowledge is comprehensive.

Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.

Psalm 147:5

He is not like us, only smarter. He is not really like us at all in this regard. His knowledge is exhaustive. God can do anything, but He is still a God of logic, so we might say that there are some things that logic does not permit us to say about Him. This means that, while, in His power, there is nothing too difficult for God, there are some things that God “can not” do. He can not get better. He can not improve. He can not sin. He can not learn anything new, or “learn” anything at all. He can not gain any new information, because all information there is originates IN HIM. His omniscience means that His knowledge is comprehensive and that He can never be surprised or caught off-guard. He can’t be confounded or confused or stumped or fooled.

God’s knowledge is comprehensive and it is continuous. It is a constant knowledge.

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

Proverbs 15:3

You and I can run certain rudimentary brain functions on different levels at the time (such as singing a song and driving a car), but what we are really doing is shifting our attention back and forth very quickly, and we often find it impossible to control the focus our thinking. Sit there for a few seconds and try your hardest NOT to think about a purple elephant…

… or try to suddenly switch off your thoughts at the end of a stressful day, and simply go to sleep. Not so easy, is it? However, God not only knows everything, but He knows everything ABOUT everything – all at once – all the time. He doesn’t have to take His mind off North Korea for a second to consider your prayer about healing for your ingrown toenail.

Next time we will consider some more of the ramifications of God’s omniscience.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Propitiation

March 11, 2010 at 11:35 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 21 Comments
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Here are three Big Words of the Christian Life:

*Justification: the act of God, Who, by grace, declares sinners who have believed on Jesus Christ to be righteous

*Adoption: the act of God by which He grants believers an adult standing in His family

*Regeneration: the act of God which grants a second, spiritual birth, and new life, to the person who has trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior

Here is a fourth Big Word of the Christian Life:

*Propitiation: The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross which made it so that God could be both merciful and just in saving lost sinners

That is Propitiation defined. Here is Propitiation declared:

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Romans 3:25

God and Jesus work together in everything having do with salvation, so do not get the idea that God “set Jesus forth” because He was angry at Him. They are one God – one God in three Persons. (The Holy Spirit is also included in the Godhead.) Propitiation in general means to appease wrath, but God and Jesus sort of agreed that the Son would be the sacrifice for sin. Jesus did not plead with an angry God Who was prepared to destroy everyone. This was God’s plan, but God’s holiness and justice and wrath do require blood for the remission of sins. “Through faith in his blood,” says Romans 3:25, and to declare His (God’s) righteousness. Propitiation is the only way God could still be righteous and forgive sinners.

The sins that were past – the sins of the Old Testament and from the beginning of the world – had not been forgiven. They had been passed over through the forbearance of God.

Propitiation defined
Propitiation declared
Now,
Propitiation demanded:

Jesus Himself was the propitiation – and propitiation was the transaction between God and Jesus. Propitiation was the only possible meeting and satisfaction of God’s love and mercy with His wrath and justice.

Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 2:17

Jesus, the great High Priest, did what no earthly priest could ever accomplish in the Levitical system. He fully atoned for the sins of all God’s people for all time. Under the Levitical system of propitiation the high priest carried the blood into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled it on the mercy seat, between the images of angels looking down at the top of the ark, the dimensions of which represented the Law of God. God’s Law had been broken, and only His Own blood would satisfy His wrath and the curse caused by the breaking of His Law.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

I John 2:1-2, emphasis added

If you have a Bible version that uses “sacrifice” or “atoning sacrifice” you are missing out on a big part of the richness of what God is telling us here. Our Advocate with the Father is not just some heavenly lawyer. He’s not some created being – not even an angel. He is Jesus Christ the righteous – and when God’s justice demands satisfaction for the penalty of sins, He not only brings payment in to the mercy seat, He is the payment – the bloody sacrifice that is demanded.

Propitiation defined
Propitiation declared
Propitiation demanded
And here’s the part that’s even richer:
Propitiation desired:

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

I John 4:10

God loved us – we did not love Him. He desired us – we did not desire Him. He sent His Son – not only to make the sacrifice, but to be the sacrifice. That’s propitiation! God did not just “demonstrate” His love. (Romans 5:8) He commended His love – He sent His love – His Son! Herein is love – do you want to know what love is? Do you want a motivation to be loving?

Propitiation defined: Tell people about it.
Propitiation declared: Look to Jesus whenever you don’t feel loving. In fact, look to Him all the time.
Propitiation demanded: Remember what our sin cost God.
Propitiation desired: Remember that God was not trapped by some mysterious cosmic law into doing what He did for us. He truly loves us.

Let’s love like Him – giving, providing, encouraging with words and deeds, covering the sins of others, fixing other people’s messes, getting involved in other people’s problems.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Regeneration (Part 2)

February 26, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 3 Comments
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1. Regeneration is intelligible.
2. Regeneration is irrevocable.

When Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:3 that, “… Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” the Greek word which is translated as “again” also has the flavor of meaning something which comes from above, or from a whole other realm. And in fact regeneration does.

This is not only a second birth – it is a whole new kind of birth – a spiritual birth – wholly the work of God. Physical birth not only gives us resemblances to our parents, but it gives us part of their “natures,” too. When my kids get complimented for their looks, I have to say they get that from their mother. If they are accused of having a bad temper, or if they act ornery, I have to admit that they get that from their dad.

Regeneration is irrevocable. It can’t be undone. Naturally born children can’t be unborn. Spiritually regenerated believers can’t be unregenerated. At regeneration we inherit some of the characteristics of our Father:
-eternal life
-the ability to love
walking in the light as He is in the light

Regeneration will cause a resemblance between the Father and His children.

1. Regeneration is intelligible.
2. Regeneration is irrevocable.
3. Regeneration is imperative.

Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3:7 that, “… Ye must be born again.” This is not only a fact; it is a commandment. It is an imperative, as well as an indicative. Regeneration is the fundamental change in your nature – in your ontology, in your consciousness, in who you are on the inside – that allows your justification and your adoption and your sanctification. We speak of a dead person as being buried, but really we only bury a body. The person has gone somewhere else. A lifeless body can’t respond to stimuli. Spiritually dead people can’t respond to God in love.

Regeneration is real: it results in a real change in who you are. If I claimed I had just tripped and fallen in a mud puddle, and yet I looked perfectly clean and neat, you would think I was either lying or delusional. God is infinitely more powerful than a mud puddle. If you have a regenerating encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, you are going to be infinitely different. A profession of regeneration must be a reflection of a real work of God. It is always worth considering whether you truly have been regenerated. Has God supernaturally changed your basic nature from a sin-loving and righteousness-hating lost person, to a sin-hating and righteousness-loving child of God? Sadly, as Christians, we still sin, but one of the great blessings of regeneration is the in-dwelling, loving, convicting presence of the Holy Spirit.

1. Regeneration is intelligible.
2. Regeneration is irrevocable.
3. Regeneration is imperative.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Regeneration (Part 1)

February 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 60 Comments
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Justification is not how you get into God’s family. It is what God declares about you once you become part of His family: that you are righteous before Him because of having put your trust in Christ.

Adoption is not how you get into God’s family. It is how you enjoy your place in God’s family: God gives you the “standing” of an adult child.

Regeneration is how you get into God’s family.

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Matthew 19:28

There is a sense in which all of creation will one day be regenerated. It will be returned to the pristine condition in which it was originally created by God. So, even though this type of regeneration is not precisely the same thing we’re talking about in the salvation of men, it does teach us that regeneration deals not only with re-creation – a new birth – a new start – but with a new start that is specifically directed to be “unto God.” The soteriological implication of regeneration is not just a re-creation for a blank slate of experimentation. It is a re-creation pre-ordained to set things right – with God Himself as the focus of all life.

The basis for our definition of regeneration in the salvific sense can be found in Titus 3:5: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”

We were not justified by our own works or merit. We are not adopted because of our own works or merit. We are specifically told that our very salvation in every aspect is completely of God. It is according to His mercy, which flows from Him.

The word “regeneration” means “born again.” When a person is “born” the reason that you know he has been born is because of one over-arching feature about him or her: Life. People have been born once in sin, and the experience of being “born” spiritually is a second birth. We call it – just as Jesus called it – being “born again.”

If we received only a physical form of life at our first birth, we must receive some “new” type of life at our second birth. Here is a fuller definition of Regeneration: It is the act of God which grants a second, spiritual birth, and new life, to the person who has trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior.

Over and above just having a definition, I want describe three main things about regeneration from Jesus’s most overt teaching about it: John 3:1-9.

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

John 3:1

Nicodemus would have been very religious. He would have sacrificed and prayed in keeping with the Old Testament law. He would have been outwardly moral, and would have been in the habit of giving generously to the poor.

The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

John 3:2

Maybe Nicodemus came to Jesus at night out of shame, or maybe just out of a desire to have a private conversation with Him.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3

Nicodemus struggled with this idea, but not because he wasn’t sharp enough to grasp it, and not because the concept was too obtuse. No, he couldn’t see the point because he was lost and, therefore, spiritually blind.

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

John 3:4

People did this with Jesus’s teachings throughout the New Testament. There was once a lady at a well who wanted to know how Jesus could give her water when He didn’t have a dipper, even though He was talking about the Living Water of eternal life (John 4:6-14). When Jesus talked about eating His Body and drinking His blood, meaning fellowshipping with Him in the Life-giving blessings of His crucifixion, some may have accused Him of cannibalism (John 6:47-66). Many of the people that Jesus encountered were spiritually, albeit willfully, blind – just like lost folks today.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

John 3:5-7

Regeneration is intelligible. It’s understandable. It is basic. The meaning of it is simple (even though I don’t like the expression, “It’s simple to be saved,” because it minimizes the great and mighty work of salvation that the Lord accomplished in the plan of redemption).

In a natural biological birth two parents are involved. In the Spiritual birth there are also two Parents involved: The Word of God…

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

James 1:18

… and the Spirit of God (John 3:5).

In natural biological birth the baby’s effort does not play a part. In the Spiritual birth Christians are born by God’s will, not our own.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:12-13

There is a simplicity to regeneration. There is a mystery to it, too, but everyone is familiar with having a baby, and with the truth that a baby is a brand new life. Christians are brand new creatures in Christ Jesus from the moment of salvation, with a new kind of life: eternal life, God’s life.

1. Regeneration is intelligible.
Next time we will see that:
2. Regeneration is irrevocable.
3. Regeneration is imperative.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Adoption (Part 2)

February 10, 2010 at 11:05 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 1 Comment
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We are using an acrostic to go through the privileges and responsibilities of several of the blessings of the Biblical doctrine of Adoption. Adoption is the act of God by which He grants believers an adult standing in His family. Last time we looked at assurance and direction. Now we turn to ownership.

A.ssurance
D.irection
O.wnership
P.
T.
S.

Adoption involves our inheritance in Jesus.

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Romans 8:17 (emphasis added)

If babies or young children inherit property under our modern day legal system, they inherit in title only. They cannot access their inheritance. However, adult children immediately inherit from their parents in full: use and ownership.

Privilege: Great wealth

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

Responsibility: We must use that wealth to grow. We must grow in grace, wisdom, and mercy. We get our riches, through adoption, immediately, because we must draw on our riches to nourish ourselves spiritually.

A.ssurance
D.irection
O.wnership
P.resence (of God)

The presence of God – the Spirit of Adoption – is better at sanctifying us than rule-keeping in our own will power. Babies or little children are always prone to fear, because, to them, so much is unknown.

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Romans 8:15 (emphasis added)

Small children, being helpless, are in bondage to fear.

Privilege: Freedom from fear

Responsibility: Not to make up our own rules and regulations that we trust to stave off fear

Adults are not as fearful of the unknown as children.

A.ssurance
D.irection
O.wnership
P.resence (of God)
T.alking

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Romans 8:15 (emphasis added)

Babies can’t talk. Adult children of God can speak directly to God immediately through the Spirit.

Privilege: Speaking to God

Responsibility: Speaking for God

A.ssurance
D.irection
O.wnership
P.resence (of God)
T.alking
S.uffering

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Romans 8:17 (emphasis added)

Babies aren’t “allowed” to suffer. God graciously allows suffering in His adult children to build character.

Privilege: Preparation for future glory

Responsibility: To suffer for the right reasons

For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

I Peter 3:17

The Apostles, the early Christians, and faithful Christians throughout history have counted it a great blessing to be considered worthy to suffer for Christ.

Under the Biblical doctrine of Adoption it is important to understand the joys of adoption – how the privileges outweigh the responsibilities. God does not treat us as babies, as little children, or as second-class citizens. Therefore, we must remember not to act like we are babies or little kids. We must have a child-LIKE faith – not a childISH faith.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:2

If you have been adopted into the family of God, live in the Spirit.

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Romans 8:13

Live in the Spirit, and die to self by the Spirit. Little children beg for toys and candy; adult children ask for tools, weapons, and nourishment.

Food never tastes better than when you’re really hungry. If you are hungry right now, you need to ask God to fill up the emptiness in you with Himself. If you are a child of God, you need to empty out the junk food that is filling you up and keeping you from being hungry for God.

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