Take the Good with the Bad

May 23, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Posted in Common Expressions | Leave a comment
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It is commonly said that we often have to “take the good with the bad,” meaning that some things are so enjoyable, that, while they are not perfect or ideal, they are still worth the trouble that comes with them.

facts of life

Most people certainly do NOT enjoy being painfully injected with a vaccine, but they are willing to put up with it in exchange for crossing some deadly disease off their list of concerns. I abhor waiting a long time outside a restaurant for a table to become available, but I am willing to endure it if the food is delicious enough when it is finally served to me.

Biblically speaking, we find this principle having various applications, one of which is:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

II Corinthians 10:5 (emphasis added)

This is what some theologians have called “The Great Assize,” more commonly referred to as “The Final Judgment.” One day (and it could be today!), after Christ has returned to this world to claim His rightful ownership of it, and to assert His absolute authority over it, all the people who have ever lived will stand before Him in some sort of judgment. For Christians, whose sins have been forgiven, the judgment seat of Christ will be a place where our works, words, thoughts, and motives are judged. There will be rewards and there will be loss of rewards. For non-Christians, there will be a Great White Throne Judgment. There, sins WILL be judged. The Book of Life will be opened, and those who have not trusted Christ unto salvation will find that their names are not therein written, and they will be cast into the lake of fire forever.

So, while different judgments will occur for the two most important categories of people – saved vs. lost; born again vs. born once; saints vs. sinners; children of God vs. enemies of God; Christians vs. non-Christians; true believers vs. unbelievers; sheep vs. goats; wheat vs. tares; justified vs. unjustified – it is still true that everyone will be judged in some sense according to the things he or she has done during his or her earthly life.

This should be a powerfully bracing reminder to us that what we do each and every moment of our lives MATTERS. God is watching. He is keeping records. He sees our most secret deeds, hears all our words, and even knows our deepest, darkest, and dearest thoughts. We will truly, one day (much, much sooner than we think), take the good with the bad, and, let’s face it, as good as we think our good might be, our bad would far outweigh it on the scales of God’s perfect divine justice.

This is why it is vitally important to have an “alien” good (meaning a “goodness” or “righteousness” that comes from somewhere outside of ourselves) imputed to our account, and just as vitally important that our “bad” gets fully removed by someone who could pay the price for it in our stead. That’s where our Heavenly Advocate comes in. Only Christ can accomplish both of these gargantuan and eternal tasks for us.

When we have to cushion the blow of some disturbing information, we sometimes ask the recipient of the information, “I have bad news and I have good news: Which do you want to hear first?” You’ve already heard the bad news: We all stand condemned before God Almighty, the Judge of all the earth. Now, please, hear the Good News: Christ will remove your condemnation, pardon your crimes, justify you before the Judge, and give you eternal life, if you will believe, repent, turn to Him in faith, and ask Him to rescue you.

Buried Treasure

August 4, 2016 at 10:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Isaiah 53:9

The prophecy that Christ would be buried with the rich was fulfilled by the actions of Joseph of Arimathaea. Jesus’s death and Resurrection are integral parts of the Gospel, but so is His burial.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, [how can a dead man with no children have descendants? he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:10

The Lord Jesus bore our sin to the Cross, but it is not the weight of that sin that crushed (“bruised”) Him; it was the weight of God’s wrath. Jesus was childless in the biological sense, and, furthermore, the prophecy describes a dead man “seeing his seed.” How could this be? It was fulfilled in Jesus’s Resurrection and the spiritual children He would regenerate and adopt.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Isaiah 53:11

God the Father was not “satisfied” in the sense of taking delight in Jesus’s suffering, but His righteousness, law, holiness, and justice were satisfied by payment in full for the entire sin debt of His people.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53:12

Jesus on the Cross made intercession for transgressors, and He’s still doing that today.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:17

Let us esteem Jesus Christ better today than men did when He came to die for us. Let us look at what they esteemed instead of Him, and ask ourselves if we esteem those things more than Him today. He was poor. Do we esteem wealth? He was an outcast among the religious establishment. Do we esteem popularity and acceptance? People lied about Him and said vile things. Do we fight for our good reputation with plans and schemes to get even, and with our own get-back-at-you gossip? Which do we care about more – that we look good to men, or that God looks great to men? He came to serve and to die. Do we dare to try to get ourselves in the position of being served by someone else? He suffered hardship and discomfort and a life of hard work. Will we dare to pamper ourselves?

Jesus is rejected so much today, for so many of the same reasons He was rejected back then – He represents everything that carnal men hate. He is worthy, and that’s an thing easy to sing, but do our activities and attitudes and awe prove that He’s our Treasure?

Get the L out of There!

March 7, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The “world” is often the Bible’s word for the ungodly system of this world, which opposes Christ and His Kingdom.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:4

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

I John 2:15-17

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

I John 4:4-5

Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I John 5:5

When we are trying to make disciples of Christ, we should, as quickly as possible, try to get those who are showing an interest in the Gospel message out of the “world” and into the Word.

He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

Matthew 13:22

Worldly cares and concerns can crowd the truth of the Bible out of a person’s mind.

And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

Mark 4:19

However, we must not let the animosity that exists toward the Word in this world keep us from diligently getting out into the world as evangelists and witnesses and missionaries.

I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

John 17:6

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

John 17:14

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

II Corinthians 5:19

Christ Himself is the Living Word of God, and His mission to reconcile lost and otherwise hopeless sinners to the holy God was and is accomplished by the power of His Word.

Finally, we need to make sure that we keep the “world” out of the Word. The canon of Holy Scripture is closed, and our complete Bible in 66 books is sufficient to show us everything that God wants us to know about Godly living and the plan of redemption in this life. We must not let the transmission of God’s Word in our day be corrupted by faulty modern translations, by extra-Biblical false prophecies such as the Book of Mormon or the NWT Bible used by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, nor by the influence of referential texts of false religions such as the Koran.

The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Psalm 12:6

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Deuteronomy 4:2

LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

Psalm 119:89

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

Revelation 22:18-19

Only one little letter makes the difference between “world” and “Word,” but that letter could have an eternal impact. We need to:
1. Get out of the world and get into the Word.
2. Get the Word out into the world.
3. Get the world out of the Word.

Catechism Question 20

April 1, 2015 at 2:39 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 1 Comment
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Question 14: What has God done for you so you can have eternal life?
Answer: He sent his Son.
Prove it.
John 3:16

Question 15: What did Jesus do while He was here on earth?
Answer: He lived a perfect, sinless life.
Prove it.
John 8:29

Question 16: How was Jesus treated here on earth?
Answer: He was hated, rejected, and falsely accused.
Prove it.
Isaiah 53:3

Question 17: How did Jesus die?
Answer: He was crucified.
Prove it.
John 19:18

Question 18: What happened to Jesus after He died?
Answer: He was buried and then rose again on the third day.
Prove it.
Acts 10:40

Question 19: Where is Jesus now?
Answer: He is in Heaven with God the Father.
Prove it.
Hebrews 10:12

Question 20: Why did Jesus do these things?
Answer: So God can forgive me for my sins.
Prove it.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:21

The motivation for Christ’s willingness to pay the price of forgiveness for the sins of His people has been touched on previously in John 3:16, which was the proof of the answer to Question 14. A child is more likely to identify with the simple, albeit amazing, truth that God loved us enough to send His Son to die in our place, and that the Son loved us enough to do so.

However, depending upon the age and comprehension of your child, you may also want to discuss the facets of the doctrine of justification which deal with the sinless sacrifice of the second person of the Deity Himself as the only means by which God could satisfy His justice, while still showing off His miraculous love, amazing grace, unending mercy, and glorious holiness.

In another, more limited, sense, God accomplished the salvation of His people in the Cross of Christ in order to fulfill His prophecies and to show His faithfulness and sovereignty and power by keeping His Word.

Other Verses to consider:

To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

Acts 10:43

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 1:18

Beware the Fiduciary Foundation

February 24, 2015 at 11:57 am | Posted in The Fives | 1 Comment
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A fiduciary relationship is one of trust. It involves the giving over of something to someone else to keep safe and to manage well. When a person trusts Christ unto salvation, he receives, at the moment of his regeneration, the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit functions in many different ways as He indwells the bodies of Christian believers, and one of those ways is that He acts as a sort of “earnest payment” which signifies the person’s eternal salvation and future ultimate redemption.

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

II Corinthians 5:5

However, it is important to remember, as believers, that we do not control the Holy Spirit; He is supposed to be in control of us. When we are thinking correctly, and abiding in Christ, the Holy Spirit is in charge of us; we are not in charge of Him.

In today’s climate of psuedo-spiritual religious promotion, it is easy to get mixed up in this regard. If we do not keep our minds saturated with Biblical truth, we will start to think that the Holy Spirit has been given to us “in trust,” and that we need to manage Him properly, but that, if we put Him “to work” (the way a smart financial manager will put your money to work to earn interest), then He can be used to makes us wealthy, healthy, influential, comfortable, charismatic, and well-known.

That is the wrong foundation for Holy Spirit-led living, and a Spirit-filled life. The Holy Spirit, and the assurance of His indwelling, is given to us to remind us that we belong to Christ. We have been purchased at the greatest cost, and our lives are themselves now held “in trust” and, if we are to be faithful stewards, they must be managed in such as way as to magnify Jesus and glorify God.

Pass It On and Pour It On

December 23, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Last time we examined two principles that exhort Christian men to work hard:

I. Put It On
II. Pack It On

Now we will think about the exhortation to:

III. Pass It On

If you are a Christian, then God is always teaching you a lesson – but the lessons have two purposes. The first purpose is that whatever you are supposed to learn is going to be for His glory and your sanctification. The second is so that you can pass it on to somebody else.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

II Timothy 2:2

The application of true Biblical doctrine that is passed on to us by our brothers and sisters in Christ is not to be kept to ourselves, pridefully “shown off,” or simply meditated upon. No, it is to be passed on to other faithful believers, who, in turn, will likewise share it again. Specifically, the Bible says we are to pass it on to other men. The Bible uses the word “teach” rather than “share” (which coincidentally sounds a little more “manly”). If you are a Christian man, when God teaches you a lesson, teach it to your son or another young man in your church family. Find a single mom who has a son that is being ignored by his selfish dad, and take the kid fishing and teach him what it means to be a man of God. Real men are not sophisticated monkeys, nor overgrown boys who can shave, nor girls with some different body parts. We are imago Dei – the image of God Himself – and we were not created to take up space, to play with toys, to be attractive to women, or to prove how tough we can be. We were made to serve the living God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the Great King – and we had better start acting like it and we had better be passing it on to the next generation, or the next generation will be emasculated and routed by the enemies of God.

IV. Pour It On

One of the worst things you could be called when I was a kid was a quitter. God has not called you to be a quitter.

He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.

Proverbs 10:4

The Bible condemns “slackers,” and contrasts them with hard workers.

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.

Proverbs 12:24

The non-quitter is going to have authority. He’s going to lead. The quitter is going to have to pay an unpleasant price, and he will not be the one making the important decisions.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

Proverbs 22:29

The non-quitter is going to have a good, respectable employer. The quitter is going to wind up working for a petty jerk.

If you are a man, pour it on: Work hard and don’t quit.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

Work hard at your secular job, then work hard for Jesus; don’t be a secular quitter, and don’t be a spiritual quitter. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Did Jesus ever give up? Of course not!

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.

Galatians 6:2-5

If you are a man, here is what you are called to do: Be like Jesus and bear your burdens, yes, but do not be a “Stoic.” Stay involved with difficult people. Christian men bear their own burdens and they bear other people’s burdens. Your wife doesn’t respect you like she should? Tough – you’re a man – pick up that burden and carry it. Be respectable whether you earn her respect or not. Trouble with your finances? Pick it up and carry that burden, working hard and trusting God! Health problems (physical or mental)? Pick it up! No help with the kids? Pick it up! Difficulties with your nieces, nephews, single moms you know, neighborhood kids? Pick up those burdens and carry them the way Jesus did! You are a man. That’s what Christian men do – they carry other people’s burdens, and they do it in love, fulfilling the law of Christ.

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

II Corinthians 5:9 (emphasis added)

Trying to win Christ’s approval (while still knowing the security of our justification and sonship) will often require us to forsake the approval of the world. We are not to care what they think if we are pleasing Him. Let them jeer, taunt, boo, scoff – we are seeking to please our Master! When we are light in this world, burning with candles lit from Christ’s torch, the darkness will push back. We might lose friends, the love of family members, or jobs. We might get passed over for promotions, and the cool people won’t invite us to their tailgate parties or Christmas parties. But we worship Someone who let Himself be tortured, abused, and ridiculed by vile sinners! He took it all for us; the least we can do is take a little for Him!

Going Beyond Fairy Tale Marriage

October 7, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage, Hosea | 5 Comments
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We prefer our love stories to be fairy tales, but the reality of marriage is not always sentimental. Few marriages are a perfect story-book from beginning to end. The Book of Hosea shows the stark reality of what it means to love in difficult circumstances. It shows marital love from the perspective of God’s love for us.

We can not be sure of exactly what happened, but Hosea married a woman named Gomer who either: (1) was already a harlot (prostitute); or (2) became a prostitute after the wedding. Then he ultimately redeemed his wayward wife in obedience to his prophetic call, as one of the greatest demonstrations of sacrificial love in the Bible.

And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.

Hosea 2:19-20

God used Hosea to demonstrate His betrothal covenant to His people, and in our marriages we need to exhibit the characteristics and attributes of God’s covenant relationship with us.

Righteousness

God the righteous imputes the righteousness of Jesus to all who are truly born again.

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:20-21

We have no authority, standing, or ability, as sinful human beings, to impute any sort of true meritorious righteousness to our spouses (or to anyone else for that matter, regardless of the erroneous and heretical teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and its fictitious “treasury of merit”), but we must stand for righteousness on behalf of our spouses. We must be good husbands and wives and try to avoid sin to protect the sanctity of our unions.

Judgment

God’s judgment against sin was satisfied in the Cross for all who believe. We deserved God’s judgment, but Christ intercepted it in love.

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Romans 5:18

Jesus willingly bore the judgment He never deserved. We must bear unrighteous judgment at times on behalf of our spouses.

Lovingkindness

God redeemed His people because He loved us and wanted to show us kindness.

At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

Jeremiah 31:1-3

As redeemed creatures we were “meant” for God. In marriage we must think of ourselves as “meant” for each other – ordained by God to show His glory in our union and relationship, and practically, to help work out our sanctification.

Mercies

God withheld from us what we deserved.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

In marriage must never punish each other for things for which God has already punished Jesus. Be merciful to each other.

Faithfulness

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

II Timothy 2:13

God is perfectly faithful. We are not. However, we need to do our utmost, with God’s help and by His grace, to be faithful spouses.

From What Were You Saved? (C)

August 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Posted in Salvation | 7 Comments
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In the first part of this lesson we looked at salvation through:

Christ’s A.gony
and
Christ’s B.ruising

Now we will see:

Christ’s C.onquest

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:6

We must disabuse ourselves of the notion that we deserve sympathy from God – as though Christ had to die for us because we were weak, uneducated, and ignorant, and that if we had just been a tad more obedient, God could have blessed us apart from the Atonement. No, friends, the “ungodly” in that verse are you and me, and it is a reference to our rebellion and the extreme nature of our iniquity.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

These “sinners” in Romans 5:8 are enemies of God – God-hating and God-mocking people. The term “sinners” should conjure up the image of a desperate, wicked gang of vile criminals trying to drag the Prince of Peace down from His throne and put Him to death. That is the category to which we belonged when God through Christ did what He did in Romans 5:9: “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

What we are saved from is not, strictly speaking, a “what” at all. It is a Who. We are saved from God and His wrath. When we hear Jesus on the Cross say, “It is finished,” He is saying that God is not unjust. He did not waffle regarding sin. He did not ignore the dilemma of a just God seeming to declare the wicked to be righteous, nor the just to be condemned (Proverbs 17:15). God Himself poured out the stored-up wrath for all believers’ sins for all time on His Own Son – on Himself – because only He could withstand it and only He would be acceptable to satisfy God’s justice and truth – God’s holiness and God’s love – God’s wrath and God’s forgiveness.

Why did God look away from Jesus on the Cross?

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:21

The Father didn’t look away from His Son out of weakness. There is no weakness in Him. He looked away from His Son because the Son had been made sin, and sin is detestable to the truly holy God.

And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

Ephesians 2:16

Enmity is hatred that includes the cause of hatred. Jesus slew the hatred between God and man that existed because of man’s sin.

The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.

Psalm 11:5-6

In the Garden of Gethsemane, before His Crucifixion, Christ prayed about letting the cup pass from Him. That was the cup of God’s wrath, and it was filled with His wrath because of my sins. If you are truly a Christian, God’s wrath may never be poured out on you, because Jesus drank every drop! There is none left for God’s children.

Now I hope you know from what you need to be saved. What a tragic thought that God crushed His Son for you, but you haven’t received Him. What we deserve is the wrath of God, and that wrath would send us to the Lake of Fire to burn in torment for all eternity. My prayer today is that you would see what your sin has cost Him, and that you would cry out to Him to save you. Otherwise, you are rejecting Him, expressing hatred for Him, and making yourself His enemy. It’s one or the other. He made you and He alone has the right to judge you. Will you trust Him right now? This could very well be your last chance. Will you be saved before it’s too late?

Salvation Is Not Like Shongaloo

December 29, 2011 at 10:54 am | Posted in Salvation, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Eternal salvation is a life-changing experience. It is dramatic. It is miraculous. It is a real, personal, one-on-one encounter with Jesus Christ the Lord, the Almighty Son of the Living God, the Prince of Glory, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

John 10:9

Therefore, the statement, “I think I’m saved, but I’m not really sure,” is suspicious. Salvation results in a complete change in our ontology – the essence of who we are.

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Ezekiel 36:26-27

The Lord Jesus compared the event of salvation to the physical birth of a baby.

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

Therefore, if the answer to the question, “When were you born again?” is, “I don’t really know, I’ve just always been ‘born again,’” there is again reason for suspicion. If someone is asked, “When were you born?” in the natural sense, his response is more likely to be, “October 14, 1980,” than, “I’ve always been born,” or, “I was born over a period of weeks while I read a book about humanity, and contemplated whether I wanted to be born.”

The Bible states that salvation results in a fundamental change in our attitude about sin.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

II Corinthians 5:17

Knowing this, if a person who claims to be saved never experiences conviction and repentance concerning sin in his or her life, there is cause for suspicion.

I grew up near a town in northwest Louisiana called Shongaloo. I once heard someone say that, when you drive through Shongaloo, if you blink you’ll miss it. Salvation is not dependent upon a “feeling,” because it is a factual event. It is not dependent upon behavior because we are saved by grace through faith, not of works. However, it is so magnificent that, if your belief is that it somehow happened to you and you missed it, then it is time for you to stop the speeding car of your life, open your eyes wide, stare deep into the Bible, and call upon the Lord with all sincerity to reveal to you the truth about yourself.

Fitted by God

October 28, 2011 at 10:28 am | Posted in Romans | 3 Comments
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Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Romans 9:4

The Holy Spirit here is answering the argument of those who say that it would mean that God is unfaithful to His promise of salvation to the Jewish people if He has given grace freely to all people. In other words, if Gentiles can be saved the same way Jewish people can be saved, what’s so special about being an Israelite?

The Holy Spirit’s response to this challenge is:

1. The Jewish people were adopted as “His people.”

2. He gave them the Old Testament covenants.

3. He gave them the privilege of having His glory dwell among them in the Old Testament.

4. He gave them the Law.

5. He saved them from among the nations, and delivered them from bondage in Egypt.

6. He made them special promises.

7. He caused Christ to come through their “family line.”

8. He gave them all the signs that pointed to Jesus being the Christ: the Messiah.

Even though they rejected Him, and crucified Him, God will remain faithful to His promises to Israel.

As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

Romans 9:13-14

In the history of the Church and in Christian theology this has been a controversial passage of Scripture. People don’t like to think that God could “hate” anyone. Some theologians feel that this refers to “national election.” In other words, God “chose” the nation of Israel (Jacob’s descendants) over the nation of Edom (Esau’s descendants). Others feel that God “hated” Esau only in relation to Jacob. In other words, they say that God didn’t really “hate” Esau – He just really loved Jacob a lot, and therefore His great love for Jacob made His feelings for Esau seem like hatred in comparison. I have to say that I find very little warrant in Scripture for this second interpretation. It seems to come from the dogmatic assertion (and Christian cliche’) that God hates sin but loves sinners. This assertion, we might say, has “some truth” in it, but on its face it is contradicted by Scripture (Psalm 11:5; Psalm 7:11). Part of the confusion comes from a misunderstanding of hatred. Most people who are aware that God is love (I John 4:8) and know that God is immutable can not reconcile in their minds how God can be loving and hateful at the same time. What they fail to perceive is that love and hatred are not mutually contradictory, nor are they even opposites. The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. God is certainly not indifferent! It might surprise many modern evangelicals to learn that the Greek word translated as “hated” in Romans 9:13 means – quite directly – “hated.”

Now, let’s think about Esau for a second. He’s the one who made the decision to sell his birthright – his heritage as a primary heir of God’s covenant promise to the children of Abraham and Isaac. And even though Esau made this “decision” he was at the same time under the decree of God Who had predetermined that Jacob, and not Esau, would be the heir of the promise. The Holy Spirit brings up the example of Pharaoh to support the way God works out His sovereignty and providence in the affairs of men. Pharaoh hardened his own heart – in a sense – but the serious student of Scripture can not deny that God also hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Romans 9:17-18 (emphasis added)

Pharaoh made the decision to reject God and His mercy, but God was plainly ruling over this “decision.”

The Holy Spirit anticipates sinful man’s reaction to this revelation of God:

Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

Romans 9:19

How can God find fault in us for the way we are, when He made us that way?

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Romans 9:20-21

Does the clay argue or talk back to the potter? “You should have made me a dinner plate instead of a cup! I didn’t want to be a cup!” The potter had every right to make the clay into a cup instead of a plate. He could have made the clay into a toilet bowl if he wanted!

For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

II Corinthians 5:12

God does not show favor based on His surprise at finding us “worthy” in our outward deeds or appearance. God is omniscient. He can’t be surprised. And He can’t “learn” anything. He makes some vessels unto honor, and some to dishonor. No vessel decides for itself with what it’s going to be filled. As living, breathing vessels, with souls and consciences and consciousness, God made us so that we can think and make decisions. Some vessels are “fitted” to destruction the same way that some spoiled and angry and rambunctious children are said to be “fit to be tied.” Whose fault is it that they need to be tied?

The Gentile vessels, compared to the Jewish vessels, did not have all the advantages outlined above. But God, in order to show His goodness and His longsuffering to the vessels who insisted on being filled with wrath, decided that those who are His vessels will be filled with mercy, instead of wrath.

I will not pretend that these truths are easy to explain. They get us into the sticky doctrines of election and predestination, which, by the way, are Bible terms. For a Christian teacher to say “I don’t believe in predestination” is to seriously call into question his view of Scripture and, therefore, his qualification for teaching. Some people believe God made us like wind-up toys, and that we are mindless puppets. That is not the teaching of Scripture. Others believe that God could not have chosen according to the good pleasure of His Own will to save some people from the penalty for their sin, and not others, because that would violate our “free will.” As finite creatures, we are not going to be able to grasp all the eternal decrees or wisdom of God. God is eternal and infinite, and His ways far above our ways. Here are some things we know for sure:

1. God is righteous, not unrighteous.
2. God is just, not unjust.
3. God is good, not evil.
4. God keeps His promises.
5. God tells the Truth in His Word.

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