Does God have to Investigate the Future?

September 6, 2018 at 9:57 am | Posted in Q&A | 1 Comment
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Question: A while back, I was listening to a sermon on Ephesians Chapter 1, and I was having trouble understanding the idea of predestination, even though I couldn’t say it’s not a real thing when I read Verses 3-5: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”

Then, I realized that God can see the future, so He just looked ahead into time, and saw the ones who would choose Jesus, and then He predestined them to be saved. Is that the right understanding?

Answer: I don’t want to discourage your acceptance of the doctrine of predestination, because you are right in saying that it is clearly spelled out in those verses (and others), but there are two problems with your understanding of it.

1. God is omniscient and immutable and eternal. This means that He knows everything, and there has never been a time when He did not know everything, and His knowledge cannot grow or diminish, and, therefore, He can never learn anything new. Your theory has God looking ahead in time to see what people will do, and thereby acquiring some new information, and this is not possible with God (Psalm 147:5).

2. For God to base His decision as to who will be saved on finding out who will make the wise choice to trust in Christ, He would have to accept the merit of human beings in the salvation that He offers by His free grace, and that is a contradiction in terms. We add no merit, including human wisdom or making good choices, to God’s salvation. He receives all the glory for it. Since it is by grace, we have no reason to boast, for we contributed nothing to it. The only reason anybody ever has chosen, or ever will choose, Christ, is because God first chose him or her (II Timothy 1:9; Romans 11:6; Titus 3:5: Ephesians 2:8-9).

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

June 29, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 2 Comments
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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

The Propriety of Paragonal Parenting

November 11, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Previously we have seen some of the problems with popular, pecuniary, and petulant parenting. The most Biblical, and therefore best, model for parenting is to parent in such a way that we are, as parents, showing our children a good example of the love of God and the fear of God. We do this by emulating our perfect paragon, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many of His attributes are strictly divine and are incommunicable to us. However, as to His communicable attributes, parents, as authority figures over the children He has entrusted to our care, have a serious responsibility to portray them accurately and faithfully in our parenting. We are, in a sense, God’s ambassadors to our children.

Christ has a three-fold mediatorial office: Prophet, Priest, and King. As parental “prophets,” we must teach our children this truth:

All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

Matthew 11:27

Christ revealed God to men. Parents are to reveal Christ, and God in Christ, to their children.

As parental “priests,” parents must intercede for their children.

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Ephesians 5:1

We can not atone for the sins of our children, and we are certainly not their eternal saviors! However, just as Christ interceded before God the Father for us, we should intercede before our Heavenly Father on behalf of our children, seeking to bring them into a right relationship with Him in Christ, and praying for them diligently.

As parental “kings,” parents must rule their children.

Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

John 18:33-37 (emphasis added)

Jesus did not deny being a king. He was the King of the True Kingdom. As Christian parents, we are united to Christ, the greatest King. Good kings do not only rule by force. They rule by love. They protect their subjects. They even serve their own subjects. We must exercise our God-given authority over our children toward the end that they will be united to Christ through our ministry and united to God through His.

Causality and God’s Will

October 28, 2015 at 12:20 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, Where There's a Way There's a Will | 2 Comments
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Although God’s will is sovereign, there are passages of Scripture that make it appear as though He sometimes chooses to sovereignly blend together His divine will with the will of human beings. To put it another way, God, as the primary agent of cause, uses man’s will as a secondary cause to work out His decretive, absolute sovereign will.

For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;

II Corinthians 8:3

Here, the Bible acknowledges that human beings have a “will” and that our will does exercise a certain power.

Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

II Corinthians 8:4

These Christians wanted to financially support Paul and his missionary team, even though they couldn’t “afford” it.

And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

II Corinthians 8:5

The wonderful thing is, they didn’t just give money – they gave themselves. These may be the two hardest things for Christians to give, and yet they did it willingly, or “voluntarily” we would say, but also, at the same time, they did it by the will of God.

So, regardless of how “spiritual” the issue is – from putting a check in the offering plate all the way to deciding to trust Christ for eternal salvation – we recognize the Biblical reality that God’s will is at work, and it may well be said to overrule, but it does not obliterate man’s will when it comes to obedience to Christ.

Ephesians 1:1-9 is another example:

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Ephesians 1:1

Paul did not become an Apostle because that was his goal and he worked hard for it. He recognized that God’s decision and God’s action caused it to happen.

Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Ephesians 1:2-5

If you are truly a Christian, God chose you to be His child in Jesus Christ way before you ever did anything – even before you exercised your own will. He did it because it pleased Him – but not because it “arbitrarily” pleased Him. Rather, it was done according to His good pleasure. In other words, if you are truly a Christian, He chose you despite the fact that you were undeserving and ill-deserving, and yet it was still good and right for Him to do it.

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Ephesians 1:6

It’s for His praise that we were chosen, not for our praise.

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

Ephesians 1:7-9

Beyond saying that His choices were and are “good,” we must be content to accept them as “mysterious” to us. Usually, a “mystery” in the Bible is something that was hidden, but is now revealed. It is when the absconditus becomes the revelatus, but it is not revealed so that we can subject it to human scrutiny or criticism. It is revealed so that we can rejoice and glorify God for it.

How to Read the Bible (and Get Something out of It): Part 2

November 8, 2013 at 11:07 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Last time I addressed the misconception that the Bible is boring. Here are three types of excitement in the Bible:

1. The danger in it

In many places the Holy Spirit employees a style of writing which we might describe as a “cliffhanger.” In other words, a narrative will build up to a moment of suspense, then there will be a pause in the action before it is resolved. In Genesis 22, for example, God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac – and at the last instant tells him to stop. Then He provides a ram (which itself is another cliffhanger that does not get resolved until the sacrifice of Jesus in the New Testament). The end of Genesis Chapter 2 is another example. The Bible makes an ominous statement about Adam and Eve being naked and not ashamed… right before the serpent shows up in Chapter 3.

There is another danger in the Bible, though, too: a danger for us. For when we read it, we can obey it or reject it.

While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

Hebrews 3:15

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 1:22

There are great blessings in reading your Bible – if you practice what you read. But there is great danger in reading it and then ignoring its commands.

2. The mystery in it

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him:

Ephesians 1:9-10 (emphasis added)

Bible mysteries are really not mysterious in the way we normally think of that term, because, if you read it, they are revealed. It is obvious there is a Creator just from looking at everything around us, and we can learn much about Him just by observing His creation, but to really know Him – and to be partakers of the mystery of His Gospel and His will – even for our own lives – we must dig into the Bible.

3. The fascination in it

The Bible is a page-turner, and not just because of its suspenseful passages, but because it is so intensely interesting – in a supernatural way. The Holy Spirit illuminates the Word of God to make us want to understand it and to want more and more of it.

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Psalm 119:103

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24

Honey is not something you eat quickly. You chew slowly and savor it.

Next time I will give some practical tips for getting more out of your Bible-reading.

Discipleship Lesson 9: The Holy Spirit

May 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons, John | 38 Comments
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I. Where is the Holy Spirit?

He dwells in the temple of your body if you are a Christian, having taken up permanent residence at the moment of salvation.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 14:16-17

Only Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Galatians 4:5-6

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

II. How does the Holy Spirit work?

A. He “reproves.”

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

John 16:7-8

He reproves of sin, righteousness, and judgment. “Reprove” is a better description of what He does than “convict” or “convince,” although the meanings of both of those words are included in it. “Reprove” (as in “a reproving look”) contains the idea of both anger and sadness (grief), and the idea of the bringing to light of guilt or shame. The Greek Word is elegcho (from the same root word as “elegy,” which is a song or poem of lament). To “reprove of sin” means to show that something is wrong, to show that it is to be rejected, and to show that it is to be condemned.

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

That’s a good Scriptural example of “reproof” – which includes convincing and convicting.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Revelation 12:10

The devil accuses with an eye toward condemnation, but he is not the only one who makes Christians feel bad about sin. The difference is that his condemnation drives you away from God. God’s reproof brings you back to God – and He does this reproving in the Person of the Holy Spirit.

B. He is involved in creation.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:1-2

The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.

Job 33:4

C. He is active in regeneration.

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.

John 3:5

D. He seals Christians as children of God.

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

I know I am going to Heaven because of my new-birth experience, and because of the Scriptures, but also because God’s Spirit dwells in me permanently. One day He is going to Heaven to be with God forever. Therefore, I must go with Him.

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:13-14

E. He bears witness of the salvation of Christians.

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Romans 8:16

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

I John 4:13

F. He teaches the Bible to Christians.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

John 14:26

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

John 16:13-14

G. He intercedes for Christians in prayer.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27

Neither saints who have died and gone to Heaven (including Jesus’s mother, Mary), nor angels intercede for us in prayer.

For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Ephesians 2:18

H. He is our Comforter in times of need.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

John 14:16-18

The Greek word for “Comforter” in this verse is Parakletos. It means “a helper who comes alongside and an advocate who stands beside you and speaks on your behalf.”

I. He empowers Christians to serve God.

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

Ephesians 3:16

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

Zechariah 4:6

J. He gives Christians discernment in decision-making.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I Corinthians 2:14

In one sense, the Holy Spirit acts as an antenna or receiver: He helps Christians stay attuned to the Truth of God and filter out the false.

III. What does the Holy Spirit do?

He produces spiritual fruit to the glory of God.

The Christian’s job is to bear fruit. The Holy Spirit’s job is to produce fruit. God has graciously given us responsibility, but He keeps ultimate control. Spiritual fruit has seeds within it. It brings joy when shared. It brings glory to the Gardener.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

John 16:13-14

The Holy Spirit’s job is not to glorify the Holy Spirit. His job is to glorify God in what God has said, and to glorify the Person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, our job primarily is not to glorify the Holy Spirit in worship, but to glorify God and magnify Jesus Christ.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-25

Spiritual fruit is “singular.” These character qualities are part of the same process and fruit.

IV. Questions

A. What are the nine character qualities which are called the fruit of the Spirit?

The first three are “inward:”

1. Love: We must love God in order to truly love others.
2. Joy: Our joy must be in Christ or else the best we can hope for is only a circumstances-dependent temporary happiness.
3. Peace: We can’t have peace with others without peace in our own souls – and we can’t have either one of those without first being at peace with God.

The next three are “outward:”

1. Longsuffering: This involves bearing patiently the issues of dealing with others.
2. Gentleness: This involves dealing with those issues tenderly.
3. Goodness: This involves choosing to deal with others the right, instead of the wrong, way.

The last three are “upward” (toward God):

1. Faith: This involves believing that God is Who He says He is, and that He will do what He has said He will do.
2. Meekness: This involves understanding that God is everything, and I am nothing apart from Him.
3. Temperance: This involves being yielded in our attitudes – being even-keeled (being a thermostat, not a thermometer).

B. Can a person be a Christian without the Holy Spirit?

No.

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

Ephesians 4:4-5

C. What is more important for a Christian:

1. You getting more of the Holy Spirit?
2. The Holy Spirit getting more of you?

Answer: 2

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Ephesians 5:18

Being filled with the Spirit is not a matter of finding where the Spirit is and hoping to be filled with Him. It is a matter of emptying out of self, vanity, and worldly, fleshly junk – so that He fills every room of your heart.

V. Memory Verses
A.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

B.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

C.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

Faithful to Him and to Each Other

April 25, 2011 at 10:51 am | Posted in Bible Studies, I Corinthians | 4 Comments
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Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

I Corinthians 4:2

Christians should be reliable and trustworthy in ministry. Even as others rely on us, we must remember that we, too, rely on Someone ourselves.

II Chronicles 16 tells about Asa, the king who ruled Judah for about 40 years. He was mostly a good king, a Godly king, but near the end of his reign he had trouble remembering on Whom to rely. He entered into a treaty with Benhadad, king of Syria, because he didn’t trust the Lord to give him the victory.

And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.

II Chronicles 16:7-9

No matter how much success we have with our ministry, and no matter how much we come to trust in the ways we minister and find motivation, we must remember to trust the Lord. We must remember to give Him the credit and the praise. We must remember to be faithful to follow His Word and His doctrine, and not to try to rely on our own personal beliefs.

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

Ephesians 1:22

Christians are stewards and servants – first and foremost to Christ – but also, in many ways, to those to whom we minister. We need to have a desire to promote spiritual growth – growth in the form of maturity and in the form of closeness in fellowship.

When I Corinthians 4:2 says that faithfulness is required in stewards, it means that, obviously, unfaithfulness is not an option.

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

Luke 16:10

Each person has different talents and abilities, but every Christian has the ability to be faithful.

For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

II Corinthians 10:18

I am glad that we are not responsible for commending ourselves. I’m also glad that the Lord’s acceptance of us is not conditional on the approval of others. What we’re seeking is the commendation of the Lord Himself.

We all are members of a body, and every member is important. For the body to function at full capacity, all the members should be faithfully working.

For the body is not one member, but many.

I Corinthians 12:14

The Body of Christ is alive. I know that sometimes Christians can tend to overemphasize organization. The Body of Christ is more of an organism than an organization, but an unorganized organism would not live very long! Therefore Christians need to work together and get along with each other. We are valuable to each other, and, in a sense, we are even valuable to the Lord.

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:31

When Jesus received the authority granted to Him after the Resurrection, He proceeded to allocate His authority to His disciples. Our “value” lies in our willingness to serve. God doesn’t “need” me in the sense that He needs my permission to accomplish His will, but I am “valuable” to Him in the sense that He loves me and that it pleases Him to use me to accomplish His will.

Discipleship Lesson 2: Everlasting Security

October 29, 2010 at 9:25 am | Posted in Discipleship Lessons, Eternity, John | 16 Comments
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I. Will God or someone else take away the salvation He has given me?

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

We must never base our beliefs on this subject on our experience or the experience of another person. We must let the Bible speak for itself. Consider the testimony of Jesus Himself:

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

John 6:37 (Emphasis added.)

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

John 10:27-29 (Emphasis added.)

II. Can I lose it on my own?

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

If we had to do anything to keep it, we would lose it easily.

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Galatians 3:10

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

James 2:10

But we do not “keep” the salvation that God gives us. Christ keeps it.

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

II Timothy 1:12 (Emphasis added.)

If we could get it – or keep it – ourselves, then Christ died in vain.

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Galatians 2:21

III. Can some other power or condition take away from me the salvation given by the Lord?

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

According to John 1:12-13, when God saved you, He became your Father, and you became His child. Your biological father can never not be your biological father. Likewise, once you are made a child of God, your Heavenly Father can never not be your Father.

There is almost always a record made of physical birth, but there is always a record made of Spiritual birth.

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

I John 5:11-13 (Emphasis added.)

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Ephesians 1:13 (Emphasis added.)

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30 (Emphasis added.)

Ephesians 4:30 would have been a perfect place to say that if you grieve the Holy Spirit, He will leave you, but instead it says right there that He seals you unto the day of redemption.

We are not saved by feelings, and feelings do not affect the objective truth of the Word of God.

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

I John 3:20

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Titus 1:2

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

I John 2:25

IV. Questions

A. Does I John 5:13 teach us that God wants us to be secure or insecure about salvation? Secure.

B. Does I John 3:20 teach that we can trust our own hearts and feelings about whether we are saved? No.

C. Find three Bible Verses that promise that God cannot lie.

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Titus 1:2

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 6:18

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Numbers 23:19

V. Memory Verses

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

I John 2:25

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

I John 5:13

Next time: Discipleship Lesson Three – Baptism

The Degrees of Estimation

January 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Posted in I Peter, Uncategorized | 15 Comments
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Christians have clear instructions from the Word of God on how to relate to the authorities the Lord has ordained to govern us. These instructions can be found in numerous passages of Scripture, but I Peter 2:17 is a good summation: “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”

Notice that Christians are generally to esteem others better than themselves (Philippians 2:3), but to different degrees, and with different types of deference. All men who are worthy of honor should be honored (Psalm 8:4-5). Other Christians (“the brotherhood”) are to be loved (Ephesians 1:15). Christian love is an active love, a giving love, and a love which carries a sacrifice of self, and a true desire that the recipient of love will grow in Christ-likeness (Hebrews 6:10). The king, or, in modern terms, the high-ranking government official, is to be honored in his office, regardless of personal politics (I Samuel 24:6-8).

The highest esteem – fear – is reserved for God (Matthew 10:28). This encompasses all the other forms of esteem – honor, love, reverence, etc. – and speaks of a very real desire to please a loving Father who wants to give good gifts to His children, but is not overly hesitant to chasten in love. Biblical fear of God is an often misunderstood and unpopular concept in today’s culture, but it is a great comfort for the true believer and lover of the Living Word. After all, the fear of God is both the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10), and the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).

Insincerity, Inaccuracy, or Incompletion?

October 12, 2009 at 8:51 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Acts | 5 Comments
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In Acts Chapter 18 Paul goes from Athens to Corinth. Corinth was a very unlikely place to start a church. Since Paul went to Corinth alone, it was clear that, if he was to be successful there, God would have to intervene. Corinth was the Las Vegas or New Orleans of its day. It was a place of vice, greed, and wicked spiritualism.

God knew that many of those in Corinth who pretended to be involved in spiritual pursuits were actually trying to manipulate people out of greed. So He allowed Paul to be distinct by earning his living making tents.

And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

Acts 18:3

God took care of the problem of Paul being alone in Corinth by providing Aquila and Priscilla, a married couple. Paul worked during the week and preached on the Sabbath. Then God sent financial help with Timothy and Silas, which allowed Paul to preach full-time.

When Paul encountered opposition in the synagogue, God sent Titus Justus to open a place for him to preach right next to the synagogue.

And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

Acts 18:7-8

The chief ruler of the synagogue was saved!

Paul carried out the Great Commission, and he received the assurance from Jesus that is attached to it.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:

Acts 18:8-9

Paul never quit; opposition only strengthened his commitment. The blessing of the Old Testament is prosperity; the blessing of the New Testament is persecution.

When the Jews tried to take the Christians to court, God intervened, and caused Gallio, the Roman proconsul, to declare the preaching of Christianity a Jewish religious matter, and not a matter of Roman law.

Paul was in Corinth for about 18 months. Then he went back to report at Antioch, and then back to Ephesus. This would be his third missionary journey.

Ephesus did not have Corinth’s reputation for wickedness, but it had a population of about 300,000 people, compared to Corinth’s 200,000. Ephesus was steeped in idolatry. It was the capital of Asia. The temple of Diana there was one of the “seven wonders of the world.” Paul stayed in Ephesus about three years.

In Acts Chapter 19 we see a historical oddity: people who sincerely professed to be Christian disciples, but who were lacking the Holy Spirit. Their testimony was not insincere, but it was probably inaccurate, and it was it was definitely incomplete.

The ministry of John the Baptist – probably through Apollos – had a big influence in Alexandria and Ephesus, so these men were disciples of the teaching of John the Baptist.

Here is what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit in connection with salvation:

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Romans 8:9

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Ephesians 1:13

The requirement today for Holy Spirit baptism is not water baptism. It is not the laying on of hands. It is salvation. These men in Acts 19 knew that John the Baptist had prophesied about the giving of the Holy Spirit, but they did not know at first that it had already happened.

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