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Archive for December, 2009

Plexiglass Preaching-
The Devastating Consequences of a Watered-Down Message
by John MacArthur

Those who are familiar with my ministry know that I am committed to expository preaching. It is my unshakable conviction that the proclamation of God’s Word should always be the heart and the focus of the church’s ministry (2 Tim. 4:2). And proper biblical preaching should be systematic, expositional, theological, and God-centered.

Such preaching is in short supply these days. There are plenty of gifted communicators in the modern evangelical movement, but today’s sermons tend to be short, shallow, topical homilies that massage people’s egos and focus on fairly insipid subjects like human relationships, “successful” living, emotional issues, and other practical but worldly—and not definitively biblical—themes. Like the ubiquitous Plexiglas lecterns from which these messages are delivered, such preaching is lightweight and without substance, cheap and synthetic, leaving little more than an ephemeral impression on the minds of the hearers.

Some time ago I hosted a discussion at the Expositors’ Institute, an annual small-group colloquium on preaching held at our church. In preparation for that seminar, I took a yellow legal pad and a pen and began listing the negative effects of the superficial brand of preaching that is so rife in modern evangelicalism.

I initially thought I might be able to identify about ten, but in the end I had jotted down a list of sixty-one devastating consequences. I’ve distilled them to fifteen by combining and eliminating all but the most crucial ones. I offer them as a warning against superficial, marginally-biblical preaching—both to those who stand behind the pulpit and to those who sit in the pew.

1. It usurps the authority of God over the soul.

Whether a preacher boldly proclaims the Word of God or not is ultimately a question of authority. Who has the right to speak to the church? The preacher or God? Whenever anything is substituted for the preaching of the Word, God’s authority is usurped. What a prideful thing to do! In fact, it is hard to conceive of anything more insolent that could be done by a man who is called by God to preach.

2. It removes the lordship of Christ from His church.

Who is the Head of the church? Is Christ really the dominant teaching authority in the church? If so, then why are there so many churches where His Word is not being faithfully proclaimed? When we look at contemporary ministry, we see programs and methods that are the fruit of human invention, the offspring of opinion polls and neighborhood surveys, and other pragmatic artifices. Church-growth experts have in essence wrested control of the church’s agenda from her true Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Puritan forefathers resisted the imposition of government-imposed liturgies for precisely this reason: They saw it as a direct attack on the headship of Christ over His own church. Modern preachers who neglect the Word of God have yielded the ground those men fought and sometimes died for. When Jesus Christ is exalted among His people, His power is manifest in the church. When the church is commandeered by compromisers who want to appease the culture, the gospel is minimized, true power is lost, artificial energy must be manufactured, and superficiality takes the place of truth.

3. It hinders the work of the Holy Spirit.

What is the instrument the Spirit uses to do His work? The Word of God. He uses the Word as the instrument of regeneration (1 Pet. 1:23; Jas. 1:18). He also uses it as the means of sanctification (John 17:17). In fact, it is the only tool He uses (Eph. 6:17). So when preachers neglect God’s Word, they undermine the work of the Holy Spirit, producing shallow conversions and spiritually lame Christians—if not utterly spurious ones.

4. It demonstrates appalling pride and a lack of submission

In the modern approach to “ministry,” the Word of God is deliberately downplayed, the reproach of Christ is quietly repudiated, the offense of the gospel is carefully eliminated, and “worship” is purposely tailored to fit the preferences of unbelievers. That is nothing but a refusal to submit to the biblical mandate for the church. The effrontery of ministers who pursue such a course is, to me, frightening.

5. It severs the preacher personally from the regular sanctifying grace of Scripture.

The greatest personal benefit that I get from preaching is the work that the Spirit of God does on my own soul as I study and prepare for two expository messages each Lord’s day. Week by week the duty of careful exposition keeps my own heart focused and fixed on the Scriptures, and the Word of God nourishes me while I prepare to feed my flock. So I am personally blessed and spiritually strengthened through the enterprise. If for no other reason, I would never abandon biblical preaching. The enemy of our souls is after preachers in particular, and the sanctifying grace of the Word of God is critical to our protection.

 

6. It clouds the true depth and transcendence of our message and therefore cripples both corporate and personal worship.

What passes for preaching in some churches today is literally no more profound than what preachers in our fathers’ generation were teaching in the five-minute children’s sermon they gave before dismissing the kids. That’s no exaggeration. It is often that simplistic, if not utterly inane. There is nothing deep about it. Such an approach makes it impossible for true worship to take place, because worship is a transcendent experience. Worship should take us above the mundane and simplistic. So the only way true worship can occur is if we first come to grips with the depth of spiritual truth. Our people can only rise high in worship in the same proportion to which we have taken them deep into the profound truths of the Word. There is no way they can have lofty thoughts of God unless we have plunged them into the depths of God’s self-revelation. But preaching today is neither profound nor transcendent. It doesn’t go down, and it doesn’t go up. It merely aims to entertain.

By the way, true worship is not something that can be stimulated artificially. A bigger, louder band and more sentimental music might do more to stir people’s emotions. But that is not genuine worship. True worship is a response from the heart to God’s truth (John 4:23). You can actually worship without music if you have seen the glories and the depth of what the Bible teaches.

7. It prevents the preacher from fully developing the mind of Christ.

 Pastors are supposed to be undershepherds of Christ. Too many modern preachers are so bent on understanding the culture that they develop the mind of the culture and not the mind of Christ. They start to think like the world, and not like the Savior. Frankly, the nuances of worldly culture are virtually irrelevant to me. I want to know the mind of Christ and bring that to bear on the culture, no matter what culture I may be ministering to. If I’m going to stand up in a pulpit and be a representative of Jesus Christ, I want to know how He thinks—and that must be my message to His people too. The only way to know and proclaim the mind of Christ is by being faithful to study and preach His Word. What happens to preachers who obsess about cultural “relevancy” is that they become worldly, not godly.

8. It depreciates by example the spiritual duty and priority of personal Bible study.

Is personal Bible study important? Of course. But what example does the preacher set when he neglects the Bible in his own preaching? Why would people think they need to study the Bible if the preacher doesn’t do serious study himself in the preparation of his sermons? There is now a movement among some of the gurus of “seeker-sensitive” ministry to trim, as much as possible, all explicit references to the Bible from the sermon—and above all, don’t ever ask your people to turn to a specific Bible passage because that kind of thing makes “seekers” uncomfortable. Some “seeker-sensitive” churches actively discourage their people from bringing Bibles to church lest the sight of so many Bibles intimidate the “seekers.” As if it were dangerous to give your people the impression that the Bible might be important!

9. It prevents the preacher from being the voice of God on every issue of his time.

Jeremiah 8:9 says, “The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken. Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord; so what wisdom do they have?” When I speak, I want to be God’s messenger. I’m not interested in exegeting what some psychologist or business guru or college professor has to say about an issue. My people don’t need my opinion; they need to hear what God has to say. If we preach as Scripture commands us, there should be no ambiguity about whose message is coming from the pulpit.

 

10. It breeds a congregation that is as weak and indifferent to the glory of God as their pastor is.

“Seeker-sensitive” preaching fosters people who are consumed with their own well-being. When you tell people that the church’s primary ministry is to fix for them whatever is wrong in this life—to meet their needs, to help them cope with their worldly disappointments, and so on—the message you are sending is that their mundane problems are more important than the glory of God and the majesty of Christ. Again, that sabotages true worship.

11. It robs people of their only true source of help.

People who sit under superficial preaching become dependent on the cleverness and the creativity of the speaker. When preachers punctuate their sermons with laser lights and smoke, video clips and live drama, the message they send is that there isn’t a prayer the people in the pew could ever extract such profound material on their own. Such gimmicks create a kind of dispensing mechanism that people can’t use to serve themselves. So they become spiritual couch potatoes who just come in to be entertained, and whatever superficial spiritual content they get from the preacher’s weekly performance is all they will get. They have no particular interest in the Bible because the sermons they hear don’t cultivate that. They are wowed by the preacher’s creativity and manipulated by the music, and that becomes their whole perspective on spirituality.

 

12. It encourages people to become indifferent to the Word of God and divine authority.

Predictably, in a church where the preaching of Scripture is neglected, it becomes impossible to get people to submit to the authority of Scripture. The preacher who always aims at meeting felt needs and strokes the conceit of worldly people has no platform from which to confront the man who wants to divorce his wife without cause. The man will say, “You don’t understand what I feel. I came here because you promised to meet my felt needs. And I’m telling you, I don’t feel like I want to live with this woman anymore.” You can’t inject biblical authority into that. You certainly wouldn’t have an easy time pursuing church discipline. That is the monster that superficial preaching creates. But if you are going to try to deal with sin and apply any kind of authoritative principle to keep the church pure, you must be preaching the Word.

13. It lies to people about what they really need.

In Jeremiah 8:11, God condemns the prophets who treated people’s wounds superficially. That verse applies powerfully to the plastic preachers who populate so many prominent evangelical pulpits today. They omit the hard truths about sin and judgment. They tone down the offensive parts of Christ’s message. They lie to people about what they really need, promising them “fulfillment” and earthly well-being when what people really need is an exalted vision of Christ and a true understanding of the splendor of God’s holiness.

 

14. It strips the pulpit of power.

“The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). Everything else is impotent, giving merely an illusion of power. Human strategy is not more important than Scripture. The showman’s ability to lure people in should not impress us more than the Bible’s ability to transform lives.

15. It puts the responsibility on the preacher to change people with his cleverness.

Preachers who pursue the modern approach to ministry must think they have the power to change people. That, too, is a frightening expression of pride. We preachers can’t save people, and we can’t sanctify them. We can’t change people with our insights, our cleverness, by entertaining them or by appealing to their human whims and wishes and ambitions. There’s only One who can change sinners. That’s God, and He does it by His Spirit through the Word.

So pastors must preach the Word, even though it is currently out of fashion to do so (2 Tim. 4:2). That is the only way their ministry can ever truly be fruitful. Moreover, it assures that they will be fruitful in ministry, because God’s Word never returns to Him void; it always accomplishes that for which He sends it and prospers in what He sends it to do (Isa. 55:11).

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The “Justification” of Christmas

By Charles R. Biggs 

Since it is the Advent season and the time we remember the significance and importance of Jesus’ birth, I will send out what I like to refer to as the ‘JUSTIFICATION of Christmas’. Using the letters from the word ‘Christmas’, we can reflect and be reminded of Christ’s birth, but also his accomplished work that he merited on our behalf. We rejoice that the “LORD has come” at Christmas, but we should also rejoice and be reminded of what the “LORD has done” for those who love him! The first letter of the word ‘Christmas’ is C… 

C: CHOSEN IN CHRIST- Ephesians 1:11-14:

Ephesians 1:11-14: “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession– to the praise of his glory.”

 

What great news for those who love Christ: “Chosen according to God’s plan, because of the purpose of his will, for the praise of his glory!” God is so gracious and good to his people! What we could never have done in choosing the Lord Jesus as Savior because of the weakness, disinterestedness, and pathetic sinfulness of our hearts, God did – -for us! God loved us long before we loved him and chose us in Christ, so that we might be given the righteousness that Jesus earned in his perfect obedience to the Father. 

Christ came to earn our salvation, to obey where Adam failed as our representative. Because we are chosen in Christ, we are privileged to be called the children of the Living God and receive all of the benefits of Christ’s blessed work as our inheritance. When we believe, we receive Christ’s righteousness to cover our unrighteousness, so that his righteousness is truly “alien”, yet God views it as our own for Christ’s sake! Remember to rejoice this season in Christ’s birth, but remember also to rejoice this season in his atoning death for sinners, his resurrection on our behalf, and his ascension to the right hand of the Father where he ever lives to make intercession for his justified people!

 

H- HE IS OUR HOLINESS-I Corinthians 1:30:

“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God– that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

All the benefits of Christ’s perfect life: living in perfect conformity to God’s Law, loving God with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength are given to the believer. All the benefits of Christ’s perfect death: dying on behalf of sinners as a ransom, taking the wrath of God as punishment. God credits this “active” and “passive” obedience of Christ to his people!

1 Corinthians 1:2,10 says that we are “sanctified in Christ Jesus”. That is, we are holy in Christ because we have been united to him and receive his holiness which is part of the revealed wisdom of God in sending Jesus to save his people. There should always be a distinction between our justification, or being declared righteous based on Christ’s perfect merits, and our sanctification, or being conformed and made holy like him. However, we should never separate these two.

Both justification and sanctification are benefits of being united to Jesus Christ by faith. This means that all who are united to Jesus by faith partake of all his benefits, including righteousness and holiness. While justification is an act of God that is once and for all, sanctification is a process or work that begins when we are justified. Rejoice today that when you see your many sins and how far you fall short of the glory of God, you know that if you have believed in the Lord Jesus, that God is at work in you to conform you to Christ’s image and make you holy as he his holy. When we confess our sins and are obedient to his gracious commands by the power of the Spirit, he forgives us and strengthens us to grow in more holiness!

  R-RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST IMPUTED- Romans 4:5-8-

“However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him’.”

Justification is forensic (that is, it is “courtroom language”). We are declared, counted or reckoned to be righteous when God imputes the righteousness of Christ (an “alien righteousness”) to our account. In other words, the Judge of all the earth declares us “not guilty” when we believe because Christ was pronounced “guilty” for us on the cross. We are not first made righteous, then declared righteous; we are declared righteous by grace through faith in Christ, then made righteous! When we believe, God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us ‘as if’ it were our own. However, it is HIS righteousness, that is why Paul says in Romans 1:17 that there is a righteousness that has been revealed from God, a righteousness not of our own, but a righteousness revealed from God and freely given to those who do not work, but to those who believe.

In light of the goodness and graciousness of God who was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, we should daily repent of our own self-righteousness (our works), and constantly be trusting in the righteousness of Jesus Christ that has been given to us! Remember the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18 who go up to the temple to pray and seek God’s forgiveness? The story begins with these words: “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable…” The Pharisee in the story basically thanked God he was not unrighteous, thinking that he was a righteous, God-fearing man. While the tax collector could not even look up to God but said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Jesus said the tax collector went home justified. The tax collector was justified because he asked God for mercy and trusted the Living God who justifies the wicked and credits righteousness apart from works! Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. 

  I-INCARNATION- Hebrews 2:14-18:

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death– that is, the devil– and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

Great news for those who are united by faith to the Son of God and thus become sons of God! God became man, “enfleshed” himself, took upon our flesh so as to destroy the devil who holds the power of death. The Son of God became a son of Adam to represent those whom he loved and to be obedient to God in the face of the greatest temptation presented to him by the devil. Jesus knew when tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Mt. 4), that his provision, power, and promotion were going to be given to him by God his Father upon perfect obedience to his will, going to the cross to die for sinners, taking God’s wrath upon himself, and being justified and raised from the dead, so that those who believe will never die but inherit eternal life! However, the devil offered him provision, power and promotion if he would believe his words and be prevented from going to the cross to offer himself as a substitute for sinners.

He was made like his brothers in every way to represent us before the Living God as a perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins and to be a perfect mediator representing those he loved before the Father, ever living to make intercession for them. When we are tempted, we know that Jesus can help us because he knows our weakness, our trials, the deceit and subtlety of the devil, and by his Spirit can help us to overcome in the power of His Name. The next time you are tempted to submit yourself to the devil’s teaching and to resist God’s commands (rather than to submit yourself to God and to resist the devil as James teaches), remember Jesus who was made like you, who has overcome, defeating death, hell, and the devil on your part, so that you might overcome! He understands because he was made like you and he can indeed help those who are being tempted!

S: Sola Fide- “Faith Alone”

Ephesians 2:8-10- “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Another important truth about justification is that it is “by faith alone” (sola fide). Faith is the instrumental cause of justification, in that faith is the means by which the merits of Christ are appropriated or given to us. We are not justified because of our faith because then it would be “by works” (although some would argue it is a very small work). Paul clearly says in Ephesians 2:8-10 that we are saved by the grace of God through the instrument of faith, which is a gift from God, not “because of” our faith, but simply because of the grace and mercy of God while were were dead in trespasses and sins as he says early in chapter 2. This means that faith is the empty open hands by which we grab hold of the grace of God in Christ that is held out to us in God’s Word. As we sing in the great hymn: “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.” That is why Paul says that we cannot boast!

Faith alone also means that faith is a faith in Christ’s saving work without anything else added to it. Our salvation is never to be understood as “faith plus something” (“it is not from ourselves”). It is simply by grace through faith – -alone. According to Ephesians 2:9, though we are saved by faith alone, we are not saved by a faith that is alone. That means, that God has created us in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared for us to do, but that these works follow our justification in that we bear good fruit and show forth our being united to Jesus Christ by producing fruits of the Spirit. Philippians 2:13 reminds us that our works that follow our justification are works because the Father is committed to working in us that which is good and pleasing according to his will. God is committed to making his people look like the LORD Jesus. Rejoice today that the faith God has given us is not a dead faith, but a working faith! A faith that desires to serve the Lord Jesus, and out of gratitude for what he has done, live according to his gracious word! 

T- “THEOLOGICAL ARTICLE UPON WHICH THE CHURCH OR INDIVIDUAL STANDS OR FALLS”- MARTIN LUTHER

Galatians 1:6-12: “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed….For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

During the Reformation of the 16th century, the doctrine of justification was called the “theological article upon which the church or individual stands or falls”. The revelation of justification by faith alone is the one and only gospel. As Paul says in Galatians 1:6-12, there are indeed counterfeits and other “gospels” but they are in reality no gospels at all, because they do not in reality bring good news! In Galatians 3:6ff, Paul teaches us about the one and only gospel according to Jesus. He says: “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned (credited) to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham….Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, ‘The righteous man shall live by faith’.”

The reason why justification is the theological article upon which the church or individual stands or falls is because it is the gospel as revealed in Scripture. As Paul says in Galatians 1, even if he had gone back to the Galatian church and preached another gospel, or an angel from heaven preached another gospel, they should be accursed (he repeats this twice to emphasize the great importance of holding to the true gospel). The reason why they should be accursed is because Paul received the gospel of justification by faith alone from Jesus Christ himself. His good news was revealed to him from the Living God, it was not something he dreamed up in his own theological mind. And because it is the revealed gospel of Jesus Christ, it is the only gospel, the only good news of Jesus Christ!

The good news is that we are justified, or declared righteous by grace through faith alone in Christ alone. The extremely good news is that what we could not do in living a perfect life of upholding God’s Law in thought, word, and deed – -Jesus did- -all for those who believe in him! This is a salvation that is revealed apart from our works, because the focus is on Christ’s work for those whom he loves! If a church, or an individual denies the truth of the one and only gospel of the Lord Jesus revealed in Scripture, that church or that person will not stand on the Day of Judgment, but will be condemned to eternal wrath and punishment for their sins from the hands of the Living God. However, for those who turn from their sins in daily repentance, believing by faith that Jesus took their wrath and punishment for them

We rejoice that the “LORD has come” at Christmas, but we should also rejoice and be reminded of what the “LORD has done” for those who love him! The next letter of the word ‘Christmas’ is M… 

M- MESSIAH-THE LAMB OF GOD-

John 1:29: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

The Substitutionary atonement of Christ- Romans 3:23-26: “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished– he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

Jesus was ‘Messiah’ or the Anointed One of God that Israel had expected for many years, but when he came, he came quite unexpectedly. He came as the long expected King that Isaiah 40 spoke of in “Preparing the way of the LORD.” But he also came as Isaiah 52-53 prophesied: as the Suffering Servant of the LORD. The Israelites expected the ‘Messiah’, or ‘Anointed One’, or ‘Christ’ to overthrow the Roman government and to set up his throne over all the rulers and nations. Jesus was to rule over all the nations as the Son of Man (Daniel 7:14)- – but not yet! He was first to suffer as Messiah, the Lamb of God on behalf of his people.

The great King, or Anointed One was to take the sufferings for sin and the wrath of God upon himself as the pure and unblemished Lamb of God for the sins of those who would believe in his work on their behalf. When John the Baptist prophesied about the Messiah, the Lamb of God to come, he said that he was one to bring salvation, but also judgment (Mt. 3: “His winnowing fork is in his hand…and he will burn up the chaff”). Later, John himself would be confused over whether Jesus was the one they were to expect (Mt. 11). The problem was that John did not understand that when Messiah came, he would suffer, then a time period of patience would pass as Jesus ruled at God’s right hand until all of his people were saved, then he would return in judgment. Jesus the Christ (“Messiah”, or “Anointed One”) was to complete the work of God out of love for his sheep, but then there was to be a undetermined period before his final judgment upon the world.

The reason Jesus laid down his life as the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, was so that God could be just and the justifier of those who believe in Christ Jesus as Romans 3:23-26 teaches. God is loving as well as just and cannot allow sin against his holy character to go unpunished. Therefore, God the Father offered his own Son as a sacrifice without blemish, a sacrifice of atonement to himself so that he would be just in punishing sin, but also the justifier who believed in his only begotten Son. God cannot overlook sin, so he placed all the sin of his people upon Jesus’s precious, unblemished back, and poured out his terrible wrath upon his Son, so that those who believed in him, would be justified by faith alone! The great news at Christmastime is that God himself saved us from God! He remains just and and still justifies those who believe in Jesus the Messiah! 

A- ACCOMPLISHMENT OF CHRIST IN ETERNITY AND THE APPLICATION OF HIS WORK BY THE SPIRIT-

Ephesians 1:4: “…even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love…” Titus 3:4-7: “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

Christ’s accomplishment of his work on behalf of those he loved was a reality even before he put in human flesh and stepped into time and history to accomplish this work. From the foundation of the world, we were chosen in Christ based on the work he would perfectly perform on behalf of those who believe (cf. Matthew 25:34). However, the work of Christ was accomplished in time and history in his substitutionary life, death, resurrection, and ascension for those who believe (Hebrews 9:26-28). On the cross, Jesus said: “It is finished” indicating the finality of his substitutionary death for sinners and atonement for sin. The Father vindicated, or justified Jesus in his resurrection, and Jesus accomplished his work on earth when he sat down at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places (1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 10:12; Col. 3:1). His work “continues” today in the sense that he prays for and ever intercedes for those he loves at God’s right hand, as well as keeps believers safe in his grip, but his once and for all work for sinners has been accomplished on earth (Heb. 7:25; cf. Heb. 9:28). Now all men living and dead await His Judgment.

When he sat down at God’s right hand in his ascension he sent the promised Holy Spirit to be with his people and apply the salvation which he secured for his own people (Acts 1:8ff). The Spirit’s primary ministry is to make known Christ’s salvation to his people and to glorify Christ in his perfect work by applying this work to believers by grace, through faith in real time and history when the Spirit unites them to Jesus Christ to partake in all of the benefits of his salvation accomplished from the foundation of the world (John 14:15-21; 25-31; 15:1-17). When we believe and the Spirit unites us to Jesus Christ, we receive all the benefits of his work on our behalf: justification, adoption, sanctification, and eventually our glorification with him! (Romans 8:28-31).

Once we are united to Christ by faith, the application of his work continues by him making us holy and without blemish as Ephesians 1:4 teaches. According to Titus 3:7, we also become heirs of God having the hope of eternal life! (cf. Romans 8:15-17). Once we are justified by his grace, we are sanctified by his grace of working in us that which is good and pleasing according to his will (Phil. 2:13), while we work out our salvation with fear and trembling by his grace, and because he is working in us (Phil. 2:12).

The Spirit uses the Word of God, primarily through the preaching of the Word and the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper to help us to be spiritually strengthened and nourished, so that we might be ever more conformed to Christ’s glorious image, and that we might persevere in faith to the end! As John says: “What great love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God and that is what we are (present tense)….and when he appears (future tense) we shall be like him!” (1 John 3:1-2 paraphrased).

Give thanks to God this Christmas season that because of God’s great love for you, you are now receiving the benefits and gifts Christ secured for you! And our contentment in these benefits and gifts cause us to realize that there is absolutely nothing here on this earth that could be given to us at Christmas that could bring us greater joy as we serve God wholeheartedly out of gratitude for what he has given to us!

S- SIMUL IUSTUS ET PECCATOR- “JUSTIFIED, AND AT THE SAME TIME SINFUL”

Eternal life is Christ dwelling in His righteousness in the soul of the justified person. So eternal life can be easily understood as union with Jesus Christ. And the word for that union with him is faith. The sinner comes to him, rests in him, trusts in him, is one with him, abides with him; and this is life because it never ends. The united soul abides in the Vine eternally. Weakness, sin, proneness to sin never brings separation, but only the Father’s pruning, which cements the union even and ever tighter (John 15:1-8).

Our great hope in our union with Christ is that we know that we are truly forgiven of all our sins. Christ died for all of our sins, not merely a few of them, but all of them. As justified sinners, we will still struggle with sin and temptation, in fact a Christian ought to be described as a “struggling sinner”, or better “one who struggles with sin”. In John’s first epistle, he writes that if we say we have no sin we lie and we call God a liar (1 John 1:8-10). In fact, John says if we claim to be without sin “his word has no place in our lives” (primarily because the Word became flesh “to save his people from their sins”). However, those covered with Christ’s righteousness given to them, those who have Christ as their Advocate with the Father, can go to Christ confessing their sins and he is faithful and just and will forgive as well as purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8,9). We have this great benefit because we are united to Christ and because he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 2:2).

To be justified and at the same time sinful (“simul iustus et peccator”) is to be one who is united with Jesus Christ while truly struggling against our sinful nature, or “old man” as Paul describes our former way of sinful life in this world. We are truly at war with our sinful nature as justified sinners! The difficulty with the war is that we know our sinful inclinations are not good, yet we still are very much attracted to our sins. We hate our sins, while we love them; we love certain sins, while we at the same time hate them! It is like in the ‘Fellowship of the Rings’ when Bilbo desires to get rid of the great ring he has obtained from Gollum. He knows it is evil and too powerful for him to control, yet he tells Gandalf the Wizard “it is precious” to him. While we struggle to kill our “old man”, our sinful nature and the sins that so easily beset us, we at the same time think they are “precious” to us. Notice how Paul describes this life-long battle with sin in Romans 7.

Paul describes the conflict in this way: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me…For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – -this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:15-20). In our conflict with our sin, this is exactly how we feel as well! We want to do good, we desire to obey God’s law because it is our delight, but at the same time our sins are still “precious” to us. Where can we go? What can we do? We must run to the Lord Jesus Christ daily confessing our sins and transgressions, knowing confidently that he will forgive us and purify us. This is exactly what Paul does: “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God –through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:24,25).There is a daily struggle and battle going on in the heart’s of justified sinners! We are at the same time justified and yet still tainted with sin. Our hope is that he will cleanse us, he will purify us and one day will present those who are united to Jesus Christ as a Bride without spot, wrinkle, or blemish. In other words, we shall be perfect as he is perfect when we are glorified on that Great Day when Christ shall return for his bride! This is our hope today! God, who began a good work our uniting us to His Son, shall complete it on the Day of His return! Glory be to God! May God grant us more grace and strength to overcome our sins, to despise and hate the sins that so easily beset us, causing us to see Jesus as more “precious” in our sight, and our sins as truly heinous in His sight!

Remember that God has granted us means of grace to help us in our battle: the Word of God and the Lord’s Supper! May His Spirit help us today to hate the sins that are so “precious” to us and may we be more conformed to his image this Christmas season! Amen.

(www.aplacefortruth.org/woe.justification.christmas.htm)

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The agony of the Nativity

   “The agony of the Nativity”

by Gary Chaffins

 

 

At Christmas, we as believers, always direct our focus on the birth of Christ. We decorate with beautiful nativity scenes, reflecting on the thoughts of a King being born in a lowly manger and on the miracle of His virgin birth.  This Christmas, I challenge you to direct your thoughts past the manger scene to the Garden of Gethsemane; to where the very reason that He was created was about to become a reality. Let’s step into the Garden with this King, who was born from a virgin, in a lowly manger the night before the He was crucified.

And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.  And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:41-44) 

Christ had absolutely no doubt about what He was about to face.  He knew that on this night before the Passover He was about to become the Passover lamb; yet in His humanity, He had much fear, calling out to the Father “If you are willing, remove this cup”.  However, like Christ, we know that the Father was not willing.  This was what Christ was predestined to do, the entire purpose of His birth was about to take place.(Acts 2:23, 4:27-28)

We see the submissiveness of Christ in His prayer “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done”.  Despite all the fear and the dread this spotless lamb may have had, He wanted nothing more than to do the will of the Father. Yet, in the flesh, He was facing a real struggle on His knees in the garden. The scriptures say He was in agony which means that our Savior was facing an extreme conflict during this time.  This battle was so strong that the Father sent Him an angel to strengthen Him. Please notice with me what this strengthening or empowering caused Christ to do “He prayed more earnestly”. The picture you see here is that Christ is now praying much more intently, crying out to the Father with louder cries and with an abundance of tears (Hebrews 5:7) due to this excruciating agony  He was facing. This horrible event has now escalated, this terrifying agony has now caused “His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” This innocent baby in the manger, is now sweating “great drops of blood”.  This is not simply a metaphor for “extreme sweating” but this has now become a medical condition.  John MacArthur said, “this suggests a dangerous medical condition known as hematidrosis, the effusion of blood in ones perspiration.  It can be caused by extreme anguish or physical strain”. Christ, himself, states that His distress had brought him to the threshold of death.

So with this picture in mind, we must ask ourselves, what was in this cup that He was asking the Father to remove from Him?  This cup that caused Him “to sweat great drops of blood”. It is often said that this cup represented the cruel Roman cross and the physical torture that awaited Him; perhaps, it was that Christ foresaw the cat of nine tails coming down across His back, the crown of thorns piercing His brow, and the primitive nails driven through His hands and feet. Although all of these options may contain an element of truth, we must understand that this cup contained nothing more or less than the fiery indignation of God’s wrath (Isa. 51:17, Jer. 25:15-17, Psa. 75:6-8, Rev. 14:9-10). Every ounce of His hatred for sin and those who work iniquity (Psalm 5:5) was in the dreaded cup that was about to be poured out down to the very last drop upon on our Lord.

Allow me to make this more personal, Jesus Christ was punished for every single sin that has ever been committed by anyone who believes upon Him.  He died in our place as a substitute.  We should have been the one in the garden crying out in agony, knowing that the wrath of God was about to be poured out on us.  Think of how worthy you are of the wrath of God.  How many lies have you told?  How many times you have failed to put Him first?  How many filthy thoughts have crossed the path of your mind?  You are guilty and deserve the wrath of God! 

 “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”(Rom. 5:8-9)  As a believer, Christmas should be so much more than stockings and gifts, so much more than a manger scene , even so much more than reflecting on the birth of Christ.  Our focus should be on what this birth has done for us, we that deserve nothing but the wrath of God. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (1 Co 5:21). And so it pleased God to pour out His wrath as the payment for us, so that we could respond and go, “God, thank You! (Isa. 53:10)  Save me so that the entire world, for all eternity, would go, ‘What an amazing God.’” Never has anybody done anything so kind. The King, stepping off His throne, entering into this world as a babe in a manger, to be with the rebellious servants, and dying to save them. What an amazing act of Humility!

If you are not a believer, Please know this: you too will ultimately bring God glory. You will either be glorifying Him in heaven because you’ve repented, put your trust in Jesus Christ, and will praise Him forever because you will be demonstrating God’s kindness to you, a sinner, or you will glorify Him in Hell. 

“What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory– even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:22-24)

Please make no mistake about it, we will all be glorifying God.  This entire plan of Christ being born into this world to be crushed for the punishment for sin, was all for Him.  So that He alone would be glorified. We are so self-centered to think it’s about us.  God says, No, it’s really all about me.  And you’ll glorify me in heaven because I’ve forgiven you or you’ll glorify me in hell because I hate sin and will not let it go unpunished-He’s going to get glory from you, no matter what!

So what gives? Who will bear the weight of your sin? I beg of you, He’s a good God.  He’s a kind God. What more needs to be done?  He commands you to repent-this is no choice.

“ The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed” (Acts 17:30-31)

He should have already crushed you but He is waiting on you to come to repentance and the knowledge of truth (2 Pet. 3:9). Today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2). Do not harden your heart-come to Him, Repent (apologize and turn from your sins) He will save you, He will wipe your slate clean and grant you eternal life. Please, do not reject His marvelous offer of amazing kindness this Christmas.

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Is Your Salvation Secure?

Is Your Salvation Secure?

 

Romans 8:28-30
Code: P07

Is Your Salvation Secure?For many years people have debated the issue of whether a Christian can lose his salvation. Some within Christendom believe you can lose your salvation; others say you can’t. That, perhaps more than any other single doctrine, has been a dividing issue in the church. How sad that is, because the Bible is clear about the matter. It is surprising that many Christians would deny or ignore the straightforward presentation of the doctrine of security in Romans chapter 8. There are other texts in the Bible that discuss the security of the believer, but none are as pointed as Romans 8:28-30. We find in those verses that everyone who has been redeemed by Jesus Christ, without exception, will be glorified.   

The key phrase in this trilogy of verses is at the end of verse 28: “called according to His [God’s] purpose.” We are forever secure because that was God’s purpose. The Son of God and the Holy Spirit intercede for us so that the plan of God might come to pass. So our security is guaranteed not only by the purpose of God, but also by the outworking of that purpose through the intercessory ministries of the Son and the Spirit. 

 The phrase “called according to His purpose” helps us to understand verses 29-30, which explain God’s purpose: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” 

 God causes all things to work out for the believer’s good, which is “according to His purpose.” There is no other way to explain why He does that; He simply wants to. God is free to make whatever decisions He wants. And He sovereignly chose for all things to work together for the good and glory of those who are redeemed. Nothing can change that. 

 
Your Salvation Was a Sovereign Act of God  

You are a Christian not because of something you did, but because of something God decided. In Ephesians 1:3 the apostle Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Why are we to bless the Lord? Because “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (v. 4). God chose us and will make us holy. Ultimately, all sin will be overruled. That is another way of saying that all things work together for our ultimate good. 

Paul continues in verse 5, “[God] predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” God predetermined to make us His sons. 

He planned that our salvation would lead to glorification. We are saved by God’s plan, and preserved for future glory. So our security does not depend on our ability to stay saved, but on God’s ability to keep His promise (Heb. 6:17-18).  

Ephesians 1:9 says that God “made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.” God swore by Himself, for there is nothing or no one greater that He can swear by (Heb. 6:13 ). Because He is absolutely perfect and the Persons of the Trinity cannot violate their word, we are assured of our security. 

Ephesians 1:11 tells us that in Christ also “we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His [God’s] purpose who works [Gk., energeo] all things after the counsel of His will.” God energizes all things according to His will. He planned to redeem us. Salvation is not based on what we decide, but on what God decides. John 1:12-13 says, “As many as received him [Christ], to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” It is true that we have to respond to the gospel message. We have to receive Christ and believe in Him (Acts 4:12 ). However, we are regenerated by the will of God. Even our response is according to God’s decision. 

Much of contemporary evangelism leaves people thinking that salvation is predicated on their decision for Christ. Actually, it is based on God’s decision for them. That’s the emphasis of Scripture. How could a person ever make a decision for God? First Corinthians 2:14 says the “natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him.” 

Second Corinthians 4:4 says, “The god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 

Man is ignorant in darkness, and dead in sin (Eph. 2:1). There is no way he could muster up enough of whatever it would take to turn around and accept Christ. God makes the first move in line with His eternal purpose. 
The Paradox of Salvation  

Contemporary Christianity has a shallow view of salvation. Many people don’t understand the security of the believer. God, in eternity past, chose us to believe in the truth (2 Thess. 2:13 ). Now we have to show a response. I don’t fully understand how those two come together. Some people think that the people who go to hell go there because God rejected them. But the Bible says that people go to hell because they reject the gospel (John 3:18 ). That may not make sense to us, but it shouldn’t matter. God is smarter than us. Would you want a God who is our equal? I wouldn’t! 

The paradox regarding God’s choice and man’s responsibility isn’t the only paradox in Scripture. For example, who wrote the book of Romans? Paul did, but so did God. Did they take turns writing verses? On the one hand, every word is pure and from the mind of God. Yet, every word also came from Paul’s heart and his vocabulary. How could Romans have been fully written by both God and Paul? We know it was, but we can’t explain it fully. 

Is Jesus God or man? He was both. Christ was not a blend of God and man. He was 100 percent Himself. He was fully God and fully man. We can’t figure that out. 

How about this: Who lives your Christian life? Paul said, “I discipline my body and make it my slave” (1 Cor. 9:27 ). He also said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20 ). Which is the right answer? Both you and Christ live your life. 

Most major doctrines in the Bible have an aspect that we cannot fully explain. When we try to bring God down to our level, there is still much we won’t understand. We simply can’t resolve everything in our minds. So the reason anyone goes to hell is because he rejected Christ and is completely responsible. But when a person comes to Christ, it’s because he was chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4).      


 

The Purpose of Salvation  

God Wants to Make Us Like Christ  

Romans 8:29 says the purpose of salvation is for us “to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” We have been called according to God’s purpose (Rom. 8:28 ), and His purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son. God planned for you to be saved in eternity past to be made like Christ. It is impossible for a person to become saved yet never become like Christ because he lost his salvation. God promised glorification; that is His eternal purpose. Heaven, the forgiveness of sin, and the gifts of love, joy, peace, and wisdom are only a part of the reality of salvation. The main reason God saved us was to conform us to the image of His Son. God is redeeming an eternally holy, Christlike, glorified community of people. When you became a Christian, the process of your being conformed to Christ began. That process must be fulfilled because that is God’s holy purpose. 

Romans 8:24 says “in hope we have been saved.” Verse 17 says that if we are children of God, we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” We were made sons of God so that we might be heirs. Our inheritance is to be like Christ and to receive all that belongs to Him. It’s unbiblical to say that people can lose their salvation, because God’s purpose in salvation is to conform us to the image of Christ. The Greek verb translated “to become conformed” in verse 29 means “to bring to the same form with.” 

Philippians 3:21 says we will be transformed bodily–the Lord “will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.” Our glorified bodies will be like Christ’s. Outwardly, we will be conformed to the post-resurrection body of our Lord. However, I don’t think we will all look alike. Every human being is different, but we have basically the same body. Our bodies work in the same way, in the same environment, and by the same principles. Likewise when we go to glory, we will receive glorious bodies that work in the same environment and by the same principles as the resurrected, glorified body of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 God Created Us for a Purpose  

God created us so that there would be a group of people who would give Him the glory He deserves. A rebellion began in the Garden of Eden, yet God set out to redeem sinners. By His marvelous sovereign wisdom, He called back people who rebelled against Him to a place where they could give Him glory. His goal in salvation is to bring believers to glory and let Christ stand as the preeminent One, receiving worship and praise forever. 

Now do you understand why you were saved? It wasn’t just to keep you out of hell or to make you happy. The ultimate reason God is conforming us to Christ’s image is so we will be able to give glory to the One who is most glorious. 

That Christ is “the firstborn among many brethren” is a beautiful thought. Christ didn’t have to make us His brothers. He could have made us His servants. He didn’t have to bring us into His family, but He did. Even though God wants us to glorify Him and His Son, He also desires intimacy with us. He is redeeming us to be one in essence with Himself. We are brothers and sisters of Christ! 

God gives us joy, peace, and a future in heaven. Those are all elements of His grace to sinners. But it’s not our happiness or our holiness that is the apex of the divine purpose–it is glorifying the Son. Christ is the central point of redemptive history, not you. Therefore, if God saved you, He will glorify you to fulfill His purpose in bringing you to salvation. God’s plans don’t get thwarted. If they did, He wouldn’t be God. 

So the purpose of salvation is to conform us to the image of Christ so we can forever exalt the One who is over us. 


 

The Progress of Salvation  

 There are five elements in the unfolding plan of salvation: 

 Foreknowledge  

Romans 8:29 begins, “For those whom He foreknew.” That is where the redemptive plan of God starts–with His foreknowledge. Some people have suggested that God’s foreknowledge is the same thing as His foresight. They envision God in heaven looking into the future with binoculars. If He sees that you will believe, He chooses you; if you aren’t going to believe, He doesn’t choose you. It’s true that God can see everything that will happen in the future. He does know exactly what people will do. However, if you maintain that salvation is based only on God’s foresight into the decisions of men, you are stating that man secures his own salvation. 

Just believing that God knew who would and would not accept Christ doesn’t explain how salvation starts with God’s foreknowledge. The ultimate problem we have in our finite minds is why God allows people to go to hell. Many try to explain it by saying it isn’t His choice to send people to hell; He just knows it is going to happen. However, if God knew certain people would go to hell, why did He bother creating them? 

Also, if you believe that God just knew what was going to happen in the future, you still haven’t explained how sinners become saved. How can a person who is dead in sin, blinded by Satan, unable to understand the things of God, and continuously filled with evil suddenly exercise saving faith? A corpse would sooner come out of a grave and walk! Simply defining God’s foreknowledge as foresight into the future still leaves us with problems. 

This is the definition we should give for God’s foreknowledge: God does indeed foresee the faith of everyone who is saved, and the faith He foresees is the faith He Himself creates. Jesus Himself said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me …. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:37, 44). John 1:13 says that Christians are “born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” God does foresee a person’s faith, but it is a faith that He Himself creates. 

Acts 13:48 illustrates this truth: “When the Gentiles heard this [Paul and Barnabas preach], they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Salvation is ordained by God, and it ultimately ends in eternal life and glory. There is no salvation where a person doesn’t ultimately become conformed to the image of Christ for the purpose of exalting the preeminent One. The reason the Gentiles in Acts 13 believed is they were ordained to do so. 

God not only sees what will happen in the future, but also ordains it. The Bible clearly teaches that God sovereignly chooses people. First Peter begins with these words: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1:1-2). We are elect by God’s foreknowledge. We tend to think that the foreknowledge basically means “foresight” because we don’t understand the full meaning of the word. It includes both foresight and foreordination. 

Predestination  

The Greek word translated “predestined” in Romans 8:29-30 (proorizo) means “to appoint before” or “to mark out before.” This word is also used in Acts 4: “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur” (Acts 4:27-28).  

The Greek words for predestined and foreknowledge are both used in reference to Christ’s crucifixion (Acts 2:23;4:28). So if we say that God’s foreknowledge is simply foresight into the future, we are saying that He saw what Jesus–on His own prerogative–was going to do and reacted to it. That is heretical. However, if we understand foreknowledge and predestination to mean that God predetermined Christ’s death to redeem all who believed, then it could logically follow that He predetermined us to be redeemed. 

Calling  

Romans 8:30 says that those whom God predestined, “He also called.” This is where God’s eternal plan intersects with your life. In eternity past, He predetermined to have a love relationship with you–He predestined your salvation. The calling is when God moves into your life on this earth, within the boundaries of time. Foreknowledge and predestination describe what happened in eternity past. 

Romans 8:28 says that all things “work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called.” The term “called” refers not to an outward call, but an inward one. It speaks of when God turns around a person’s heart–a heart that could never turn to God, know Him, understand the gospel, or know hope on its own. We know this refers to a saving call because of the context of Romans 8:30: “these whom he called, He also justified.” The calling here is an effectual call. It’s not just an invitation to anyone. If God predetermined a love relationship with us and foreordained our salvation in eternity past, then He will fulfill it by moving into our lives. As I mentioned earlier, you are not saved because of something you did but because of what God decided. 

What happens when God calls us? He moves in us and convicts our hearts. He draws us away from sin and toward the Savior. Second Timothy 1:9 says that God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” You were called to salvation to fulfill a purpose that was planned before God created the world. That is the reason we are secure in our salvation. We were saved to be like Christ and to be part of a redeemed people that will exalt His holy name. If that was God’s plan from before we were even born, He will fulfill it. No one can lose his salvation; all things are continually overruled by God to work for our ultimate glory 

God’s call comes to us through the gospel. Second Thessalonians 2:13-14 says, “We should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation…. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God chose to save us so that glory could be given to Christ. 

Now don’t think that just because God chose you, you’re better than someone else. There is no way of knowing why God chose you or me. One small hint of why He did appears in Ephesians 1:6: “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” Whatever reason God had for choosing us, it was for Him, not us. Galatians 1:6 says that God calls us “by the grace of Christ.” We are called to salvation through the gospel, by grace, and through the Spirit of God. 

Justification  

The word “justified’ in Romans 8:30 means “to be made right with God.” How does that happen? The sin in your life must be removed. God must take your sin and put it on Christ (Rom. 3:23-25). When He moved into your heart and called you to Himself, you were made right with Him. Some people wonder how much time there is between God’s calling and our justification. I don’t know. That would be like asking how much time it takes for a bullet to go through two sheets of paper. The distinction between calling and justification is theological; there isn’t necessarily a time lapse. You are called to be justified. The calling is when God moves to change your heart, and justification is the result. 

Glorification  

Since God predetermined to love you, redeem you, call you away from your sin, and make you right with Him through your faith in Christ, the next step is glorification. Romans 8:30 says that those “whom He justified, He also glorified.” 

Did you notice that statement is in the past tense? Your glorification is so secure that God speaks of it in the same tense that He spoke of your salvation. And your salvation is so secure that He used the same tense to speak of your calling, justification, and predestination. The moment He predetermined to love you, your glorification was so secure that He could speak of it as if it had already happened. 

The Guarantee of Glorification  

 You were saved for glory, and all things are working toward that end. This is God’s purpose: to make you like Christ so that you can be part of the redeemed, over which Christ will be preeminent. You will glorify and praise Him forever. Before the world began, God predetermined to set His love on you and foreordained your salvation. In time, He moved into your heart and called you away from your sin. He made you right with Himself through Jesus Christ, and destined you to be glorified. That is the security of the believer.

http://www.gty.org/Resources/Positions


Copyright 2005 by John MacArthur. All rights reserved. All Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, and are used by permission. Adapted from Saved Without a Doubt, by John MacArthur (Victor Books, 1992).

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Christmas Needs

Christmas Needs

We have been presented with a few families that are in need this Christmas.  The need is not for money or toys, but for the basic needs of shoes and clothing.   Below is the list of needs, if you have anything sitting around the house that can help us meet these needs, we ask for your help.  Please contact us at  (740)464-7327

Sizes needed:

Boy (5yrs old)  Clothing-5T  Shoes-12 (kid size)

Girl (3yrs old) Clothing-4T  Shoes-10 (kid size)

Boy (16yrs old) Clothing-large shirt /34 waist pants   Shoes-10

Girl (14yrs old)  Clothing-Medium shirt /5-6 pants  Shoes-10

Boy (10yrs old) Clothing- Kid Size 10-12 pants/shirt   Shoes 4 1/2

Boy (8yrs old) Clothing-Kid Size 14-16 pants/shirt  Shoes 6 1/2-7

Boy (4yrs old) Clothing-4T-5T pants/shirt

Girl (3yrs old) Clothing-4T pants/shirt

Girl (1yr old) Clothing-12 mo. pants/shirt

General:  Food Baskets

 

 

 

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