David Westerfield

Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Tag: predestination

Even the Beginning of Faith is of God’s Gift

“Therefore I ought first to show that the faith by which we are Christians is the gift of God, if I can do that more thoroughly than I have already done in so many and so large volumes. But I see that I must now reply to those who say that the divine testimonies which I have adduced concerning this matter are of avail for this purpose, to assure us that we have faith itself of ourselves, but that its increase is of God; as if faith were not given to us by Him, but were only increased in us by Him, on the ground of the merit of its having begun from us. Thus there is here no departure from that opinion which Pelagius himself was constrained to condemn in the judgment of the bishops of Palestine, as is testified in the same Proceedings, ‘That the grace of God is given according to our merits,’  if it is not of God’s grace that we begin to believe, but rather that on account of this beginning an addition is made to us of a more full and perfect belief; and so we first give the beginning of our faith to God, that His supplement may also be given to us again, and whatever else we faithfully ask.

Read More

Is There Injustice on God’s Part? By No Means!

This is the great question, from Romans 9:14, that has caused much debate over the centuries as it pertains to election, going back to Pelagius and Augustine, and even as Paul shows, during his own day. If God chooses to have mercy on one and not another, is He at fault, is it unjust? Paul’s answer? By no means! But why? He gives two pieces of evidence from the old testament to back up his claim that God is indeed not unjust in His sovereign election:

Read More

Predestined for Adoption Through Jesus Christ

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will…” – Ephesians 1:4-5

In writing this, Paul desired that this wondrous truth cause us to exult in our salvation, not mourn over the truth itself. Far from it! It is a shame this doctrine produces fear in His people rather than overwhelming joy, as it did with Paul, who can’t even take a break for a breath he is so elated over the implications of the Gospel for His own life, let alone those of his readers. This truth highlights the largeness and eternal depths of God’s love for His people and gives us a solid foundation that cannot fail, rooted in the very nature and essence of who God is. God is love and He is also justice. And these two seemingly contradictory attributes are perfectly expressed in the cross of Christ.

In addition, predestination is never separated from the Person and work of Christ in His life, death and resurrection. We are “predestined… for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.”

What a hope! Let us exult in the glorious wonder that 1) God has mercy on anyone, for we all deserve condemnation (justly), and 2) that He purposed to save His people in eternity past through the finished work of His own Son. The depths of God’s love are beyond searching out. They go into eternity. This gives weight to that truth. What a solid, eternal support to know that God is eternally for His people, never against them! This is just one of the many hopes we have in the Gospel.

Is There Injustice on God’s Part?

Job’s Suffering Under a Sovereign God

In the Book of Job, Job is essentially sifted like flour at the hands of Satan, by the permission of God. Job loses just about everything except his life and his wife. He loses his children, houses, live stock, servants, everything. He even loses his health for a time.

From the very beginning of the book, in the first chapter, it is clear God is the one in charge and in control of Satan’s sifting, using it and even purposing it for His good, just and right purposes that are pure and free from evil. In fact, God initiates the conversation with Satan, the one who would perform this very sifting. He says to Satan in Job 1:8, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” He then goes on later to give Satan permission, as well as  boundaries, of what he can and cannot do to Job.

While all of this is true, God cannot be charged with evil or injustice of any kind. He is pure and holy, wise and almighty. There are no evil motives with God in this. And yet, to the difficulty of our understanding, He permits and even asks Satan to consider Job as a target for calamity. He initiates and prompts Satan to strike Job. This is hard to swallow. What is God up to? What is His goal in this?

Close to the end of the book, after all the calamity of the first two chapters Job experienced, he goes through a list of sins and trespasses to try and figure out what he has done to have received such calamity. It seems he assumes those things happened because of something wrong he had done.

Read More

MP3 Sermons on Romans 9 – John Piper

If you really want to dive deep into the implications and ramifications of God’s grace and mercy to us in Christ, you really need to take the time to listen to this series of sermons on Romans 9 by John Piper. It is unfortunate these passages get skimmed over, ignored or nuanced to such a great degree there is nothing left but hollow theology. There is gold here if you will spend the time with it. Romans 9 answers these questions (though Romans 10-11 continues the answers as well):

  1. “If God has made such great promises to us in Christ that will NEVER fail (as explained in Romans 8), why is it that a majority of Israel rejected Christ, the only One who could save them?”
  2. “If all of Israel is not saved, and God’s promises have failed them, what are we to make of the promises of God given to us in Romans 8?”
  3. “Is God required to show mercy to everyone?”
  4. “Is God free to show mercy to whom He pleases?”
  5. “Is God bound by what the creature does or doesn’t do, or is He free to do as He pleases, to His own glory and for His own purposes?”
  6. “From where did our faith come from?”

Read More

The Lot of Jacob and Esau

As I have been reading through Genesis the past couple of weeks, something has become clear to me as the story line has progressed. We all know the story of Jacob and Esau, well, at least some of you reading might. As Paul says and properly interprets of this story in the latter part of Genesis, particularly as he says it in Romans 9:10-13, “When Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'”

Now of course everyone’s first immediate reaction to Romans 9 on election in particular is that this story of Jacob and Esau Paul cites is talking about God electing their temporal lots in life, not their eternal lots. And even then, the election spoken of, so goes the popular thought, is one of groups of people, not individual people, that is the election of Israel instead of Edom, as opposed to Jacob and Esau. That is at least how most people immediately interpret it nowadays, so as to lighten the hardness of the verses that come after these later in Romans 9.

Read More

Unconditional Election – What Does It Mean? – Dr. James White

God’s Sovereignty in the Salvation of Men – Jonathan Edwards

http://old.westerfunk.net/archives/theo … 0of%20Men/

In reading over this sermon again, some of these applications in the life of the believer are amazing, and good to reiterate. These things cannot be stressed enough. God is to be glorified, revered, submitted to in His sovereignty. As Edwards puts it, “He demands it of you.” In fact, he goes on to say, “If we go on contending with God about His sovereignty, it will be our eternal ruin.” To call God “Lord” is the same as calling Him your Sovereign. If He is your Sovereign, the One who rules your life, then you must submit to the Scripture in this, as terrifying the truth of His absolute sovereign might and power in salvation may be. I have taken the titles for each of his applications and explained them so as to make them a little more accessible to people who may have a hard time reading Edwards’ work (totally understandable).

By God’s sovereignty in salvation, by God choosing whom He is pleased to save of His own free will, we learn:

1) How absolutely dependent we are on God alone for our salvation.

2) With great humility to adore the awful, terrifying, and absolute sovereignty of God.

3) To attribute our salvation to grace alone and no other reason in us or outside of God’s grace in Christ.

4) What cause we have to admire the grace of God, that He should bind Himself by covenant to us whom He has chosen for salvation, that He should have mercy on any of us.

5) To guard those who seek salvation from two opposite extremes: presumption and discouragement.

—————————————————————-

1) How absolutely dependent we are on God for our salvation.

We are dependent upon Him even for our faith to believe in Christ. If the Lord has mercy on whom He has mercy, and hardens whom He hardens by His sovereign will, then exactly what is that mercy He has on some? Obviously it is salvation, but at what point does it start? It is the fulfillment of the great prophecy in Ezekiel 36:26-27 that says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Specifically, He is merciful upon us by creating light in our hearts, cutting through to the very core of who we are, where our desires lie, breaking through with the light of the Gospel, and changing us from the inside out, not the outside in.

Prior to belief in Christ, we rejected God, and were dead in sin, enemies of God, turned away from Him, wanting nothing to do with Him. This is what a sinner is, someone who has rejected and profaned the name of God, by thoughts and intentions of the heart, manifested in evil works. The level of depravity in our hearts is so great, that it literally takes an act of God (the Holy Spirit) to give us willing hearts that submit to Him in love. Apart from this grace, we would pursue sin and its delights straight to hell.

Had God not sovereignly cut into my life and turned my heart from rebellion to love for Christ, I would be forever lost, and God justly would have sent me to hell because I would have chosen to go there. My natural bent was toward sin, and sin I did. No good proceeded from me (that was acceptable to God) until Christ intervened in my heart, giving me the eyes to see and ears to hear the beauty and call of Christ to salvation. God went in before my desires and changed them so that I loved Christ and hated the sin I was in. And so it continues to this day, imperfectly. God chose to change me from the heart, I did not of my own natural desires choose Him. God has to do a supernatural work in us so that we desire Him. Apart from this we are hopeless to believe in Christ because it foolishness to those who are perishing, and all of us who believe were at one time perishing, under the condemnation of God’s wrath. Unless God intervenes with sovereign, free grace made possible through the cross of Christ, we are all hopeless. It is a wonder He has mercy on any, and yet what a merciful God He is in the Person and work of Christ! And this grace itself is sovereignly dispensed upon whom He chooses to dispense it. This is the conclusion of Romans 9:18. God does as He pleases in the heavens, and none can stay His hand or say to Him, what are you doing? (Daniel 4:35). We are absolutely dependent on God not only for redemption itself, but also for the faith in Christ to attain that redemption! (Edwards quote, paraphrased)

2) With great humility to adore the awful and absolute sovereignty of God.

This is not an easy teaching of the Scripture. It takes some people years and years to work through these things. It is one of the most difficult. But do not give up. God’s design in it is to humble us, in order that we see God as THE LORD, the sovereign of the universe. We have nothing to boast in except the cross. This is exactly what that means. The cross saved us, it did not just make us savable. This teaching shows us the greatness of His power and the greatness of our need. And in seeing the level of our need contrasted by His sovereignty, and how it would have been right for God to let us go our own way into eternal darkness, we stand in wonder and awe at His glory revealed in the mercy of Christ on poor souls like us.

When Isaiah went before the throne of God in Isaiah 6, he was one of the most righteous in all of Israel. And yet, Isaiah’s response before God was, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” He saw the sovereign might and power of God right before him, and he shuddered. He trembled in fear by seeing Himself in comparison to such majesty, might, and raw sovereign power, and he knew he should die instantly and justly before such a wonderful, terrifying God. Isaiah’s only hope was the pure, absolute, sovereign mercy of God, and the Lord dispensed it to him. God is fully just and fully merciful all at the same time, what a wonder!

When Moses was in the desert on the side of the mountain in Exodus 33, he said to God, “Please show me your glory.” The Lord’s response to him was, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” The essence of the glory of God and the essence of His name is that He is sovereign (i.e. “I AM WHO I AM,” (Exodus 3) and “I have mercy upon whom I have mercy” (Exodus 33), both being the essence of the name of God as explained by God Himself), and He reveals that sovereignty to fallen men in the dispensing of mercy upon whom He pleases by His good will and pleasure. We should stand in awe that this sovereign and powerful God whom we have provoked by trampling upon His glory does not obliterate us at this very moment for the way we treat Him. Praise God for the work of Christ to turn away this wrath against His people! And we know it would be right for us to be obliterated in hell forever. And yet, in Christ, He has shown us such wonderful mercy that words fail to describe. It is mercy beyond comprehension, so much that it will take all of eternity to unpack and we will never come to its end.

3) To attribute our salvation to grace alone and no other reason in us or outside of God’s grace in Christ.

This is such an important thing to learn from God’s sovereignty. Why did you believe while someone else did not who heard the same Gospel message? What made you to differ in your state toward God over someone who shakes their fist in rebellion to God and runs from Him at every turn? Was it something within you naturally? Did the desire for Christ originate in you? If it was within you by nature, how can you boast in Christ alone, and say, “All glory to God” for your salvation? I have hit on this before in other blogs, but this is so extremely important to stomp out our wicked pride and self-righteousness, especially among those who claim Christ as Savior. We have nothing we can boast in, not even our faith, as said above. It is Grace Alone that made us to differ from those who reject God. We would have and did, prior to conversion, reject God. It is the grace of Christ in the work of His life, death, and resurrection that makes us to differ from the unbeliever. We are no better, but are sinners saved by sheer free grace alone.

4) What cause we have to admire the grace of God, that He should bind Himself by covenant to us whom He has chosen for salvation, that He should have mercy on any of us.

How beautiful is the grace and mercy of God, when contrasted with His wrath and justice! When you see what you are being saved from, only then can you really appreciate the enormity of the work it took to redeem us and we see how great the character is of the Person who performed that work. And Christ is that Person! He stepped in the way of awful wrath so that we could have Him as our treasure forever. God’s absolute sovereignty should cause us to stand in praise and tears at the mercy we have found in Christ. What a wonder God. To Him be the glory, now, and forever!

5) To guard those who seek salvation from two opposite extremes: presumption and discouragement.

God’s sovereignty in salvation is meant to guard us from two natural extremes of the human heart: pride, or fear and discouragement.

We should never presume on the mercy of God, that we may attain to it whenever we so please. God is sovereign in the dispensing of mercy and if you put off the pursuit of salvation through Christ, you may never attain it. If you say in your heart, “Right now, I want to pursue what I want, and I’ll get to God later,” it may be He lets you go into eternity just like this, only with no hope of returning. Turn to God and cry out for Him to have mercy on you now! Today is the Day of Salvation. The Scripture says, “Today, if you hear His voice do not harden your hearts.” Also, do not take advantage of the grace of God because it is infinite so that you can continue in your sin. Do not say in your heart, “Because God is infinitely loving, I can do what I want and he’ll forgive me.” There are strong warnings against this in the Scripture. It may be possible that because you care nothing for the things of Christ and continue in your sin unaffected by God’s grace, you have not been truly converted. In fact that is likely the case. A converted heart is a heart that loves Christ and loves the things of God, albeit imperfectly. Do not presume on the grace of God.

However, the other natural extreme is to despair of any hope in salvation at all because of the greatness of your sin. God is almighty and powerful and able to save because Christ’s blood is infinitely sufficient to cover a multitude of sins, no matter how great. He did not spread His arms out on the cross and shed His blood willingly for nothing. He did this very thing to provide payment for sinners who were without hope. To say that your sin is too great to be forgiven is to deny Christ as sufficient to save you. You are saying that Christ is unable to rescue you from the depth of your sinning. You are elevating your sin above the level of God and making it an ultimate thing. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved! His blood can cover infinite numbers of sins, no matter how big and how great.

Free Will – “Is the Will Free by Nature or by Grace?” – John Hendryx

(Updated 9/9/2011)

“Is the Will Free by Nature or By Grace?” – John Hendryx (personal commentary below)

It’s very important to define the term Free Will. Many will discuss this and get into arguments with others over whether it does or doesn’t exist, when really there needs to be some more explaining to do on both ends. But because emotions run high, and because terms are not defined from the beginning, arguments get out of hand and both parties sin as a result in treating their brother in Christ wrongfully, or at the very least walk away completely misunderstood.

Free Will can essentially be defined as this: choosing what we desire most. That’s really all there is to it. I don’t think either a Calvinist or an Arminian can disagree with that. I have a choice presented to me to eat either pizza or tacos. At a given moment I may desire tacos more than pizza and therefore I choose tacos. We choose what we desire most. So I have the ability as a free agent to make choices based on what I want. So how does Free Will fit into this? What is it that I want apart from the grace of God stepping in to change me? Well, it’s very clear from Romans 8:7-8, Romans 3:9-18, and many other places, that our wills and our desires, including every other facet of our existence, is bound up in sin, slaves to sin. Sin is our master apart from the work of God to incline us to Himself. So apart from the intervening work of the Holy Spirit, what is it that we desire most? Sin, wickedness, trampling on the glory of God; anything but the living God. Even the benevolent things done to others that are done without giving glory to God, done without faith, is sin (Romans 14:23).

Therefore, as a result, though we are free to make choices and are responsible for those choices, our very choices are always bent toward sin and rejecting Christ and will never choose Christ, apart from being regenerated first by the Holy Spirit in order that we irresistibly desire Christ and as a result choose Him. God must first choose to regenerate us to even be able to want Christ (1 John 4:19). So yes in one sense, Free Will doesn’t exist because apart from an inward change by the work of the cross, we will always choose sin because that’s what we desire most, and so we are enslaved to sin. But in another sense we have the ability to choose one thing over another and are responsible for that choice. But our desires are corrupted by sin and we therefore choose sin and are unable to submit to the law of God and the Gospel. I write all this to point out that we must define our terms when debating with those in disagreement with our position, and more than anything be loving to them, just as Christ has loved us and gave Himself up for us.

So what is our hope, if we are bound in sin, unable to submit to the law of God and the Gospel? What can we do? By the power of the cross of Christ alone, believe in the name of Jesus and you will be saved. For there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Not only does God provide the answer in Christ, but He also graciously provides the means to attain to that grace, namely the gift of faith and repentance. What God demands of us He freely gives us in Christ. “To suppose that whatever God requireth of us that we have power of ourselves to do, is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect.” – John Owen.

Our hope lies not with our abilities, our will, our strength, our moral resolution to attain to God’s good favor, but with God alone and His power, appropriated through the cross of Christ. He must first regenerate us and as a result He will give rise to our faith. Just as in creation, He creates light in the darkness, from the void brings forth life. It is the same in salvation. And this work by God was made possible by the cross of Christ and His resurrection from death. Not only has He bought the salvation of some for sure through His work, but He also bought everything necessary in order for us to believe, purchasing even the gifts of faith and repentance (Ephesians 2:8, 2 Timothy 2:25). Therefore, if you know Him, cry out in gratitude that He looked upon you in the condition of bondage to sin and fall at His feet in worship. And if you don’t know Him but see Him as good and yourself as dreadfully sinful and beyond your own repair, throw yourself at His feet and cry out to Him to have mercy on You in your sinfulness and wickedness, granting you the gifts of repentance and faith. Cry out as the man in Mark 9:24, “I believe; help my unbelief!” The Lord is ready and willing.

To read more on this, you definitely have to read J.I. Packer’s very short section on free will in his book Concise Theology. In addition, check out the entire section on Free Will at Monergism.com. (both below)

Inability by J.I. Packer – From Concise Theology

Monergism :: Free Will

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén