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Tag: Sovereignty Page 2 of 3

How To Respond To The Economic Crisis

While there is a plethora of bad news that continues coming out concerning the economy, and the fog of  economic uncertainty (and in some cases dire certainty) continues to creep in amongst communities all over the country, something we believers need to make sure we’re doing is responding to these trials in a way that glorifies God. And using this as an opportunity to share the Gospel to those who don’t know Him.

Though things may certainly not get as bad as many of the top economists and investment advisers in the country are saying it will get, certainly people are already being impacted by job losses, monetary loss, all kinds of loss. Yet, it is in these very times that God’s power shines its brightest in our lives. The Gospel works great power in weakness. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Freedom of Speech Fight With … The UN?

Just like James White in his analysis, I find it ironic they have Hitchens on for his commentary on this issue. Oddly enough, I agree with Hitchens’ analysis, one of the few things I agree with him on. I just have to wonder what else he would say, as a sort of qualification to this.

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?”

The Economic Downturn is Not Bad For Your Soul – Piper

Excellent! Man this is good …

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

“Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” – Genesis 18:14

My Bible reading plan for the year has started over and I am currently in the books of Genesis and Matthew. This verse made me stop and ponder for a second how absurd it is that I ever question God’s authority but also doubt His ability to carry out the impossible (or even sometimes the possible, sadly). Considering the fact that God is omnipotent, possesses infinite power to do whatever pleases Him, this question is a no-brainer, lay up shot of an answer. Of course, nothing is too hard for Him.  We can answer this in an instant from our minds and our hearts be far from resting in that truth.

How often my own heart forgets this truth throughout the day! May the Lord have mercy on me. Is this not the very root of sin itself, that is, doubt and unbelief that it is within God’s power to do the impossible, let alone just doubt and unbelief alone? Many times, the skepticism and practical atheism of our culture seeps into our own thinking and we can doubt God on a personal level which leads to anxiety and misery, a heart that ceases to be at rest in Christ Himself who controls all things with His powerful word. In many (if not most) spiritual circles of our society now, doubt is a virtue! Yet if doubt and unbelief are the roots of sin, our society is openly embracing unbelief.

Where Are We Headed? Praise God He’s in Control of All Things

Everything may shift around us at extremely fast rates … and yet God and His Gospel remain constant. Plant yourself in Him and His grace to us in Christ, for, “the times, they are a-changin’,” really really quickly.

Does God Trust Us With His Work After We Believe?

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10

I have had a couple of conversations recently in which I noticed a certain idea being articulated as it related to the person’s life circumstances and God’s role in it all: that is that God, after we believe in Him, trusts us to build His Kingdom. And from the relationship perspective, that God trusts us to go through trials. Most people might brush aside such a thought as a simple notion that gives no weight to what one savingly believes concerning God; or bringing it down to a practical level, how that idea affects everyday life and practice. However, I personally believe it is quite a revealing notion about the way in which many are beginning to view God’s role in bringing us to Himself and making us more like Christ.

I have a hunch I know where this idea is coming from, an idea that I believe to be quite injurious to the Church; if not immediately, maybe on down the line as people pick up on it more and more, particularly in youth groups around the nation, whose members then grow up to be adults a decade from now.

There was an article written by Dale Van Dyke a few years ago that reviews Rob Bell’s book Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith. In it, Van Dyke points out a particular quote from Bell’s book on pg. 134 where Bell states (in no uncertain terms I might add, which I find ironic at a belief system level … but I digress), “[Jesus] 1/4 left the future of the movement (the church) in [the disciples] hands. And he doesn’t stick around to make sure they don’t screw it up. He’s gone. He trusts that they can actually do it.”

Now before continuing, I would like to quote Van Dyke’s own preface to his review that I think is appropriate here as well: “I believe that Rob Bell is well intentioned. He is passionate about helping Christians break out of the drudgery of a tired, traditional religion into a vibrant, culture-transforming relationship with Christ. He earnestly desires to help people live out the commands of Christ. This is commendable and explains in large part his appeal to the largely churched Grand Rapids community.” I totally agree and have seen some of the good that Bell has done locally, through a few videos, coupled with some leaders who shared the Gospel, in (at the very least) helping a few people come to believe in Christ and are now off at college and vibrant in their faith.

However, even small ideas that may seem minute at the moment can have eventual catastrophic effects down the road, maybe not within the immediate generation (though I believe we’re already seeing the effects in some ways), but what about 10, 20, 30 years from now when our youth groups are all grown up, taking these ideas we’re giving them, that we’ll be held accountable for on judgment day?

There are several presuppositions in this quote of Bell’s that are contrary to the text of Scripture, however, that may not be obvious on first glance. Something may not sound right to you, but your not quite sure what it is. Here are a few I noticed, if it helps at all, though by no means is it exhaustive of everything Bell would have to say; in addition, he may very well not be intending it though, I believe they are unavoidable in the language he uses:

1) that implicit in this idea of God trusting Kingdom work (or trials) to His disciples (even 1/4 of it), God is not directing the course of history sovereignly for His own glory and purposes which is so clear in the Old Testament quotes of God Himself;

2) that there are things that could potentially thwart God’s purposes if the Kingdom is left in the hands of sinners and God is hands-off even a 25%, to one degree or another;

3) that man is capable in himself of carrying out God’s eternal plans;

4) Jesus is not providing the constant power, ability and will (a gift purchased and secured at the cross) to carry out the very things in His people that He wills to come to pass in His Kingdom.

This is ultimately a denial of God’s over-arching sovereignty in creating and acting in the way that He does to bring glory to Himself, from beginning of creation, to redemption, to the end, the ultimate purpose of creation and even more specifically, salvation. Now I would not say Bell himself supscribes to an outright rejection of God’s sovereignty, but those listening to his teaching sure might.

All of this adds up to what I see as a misapprehension of the theology of the Kingdom of God. Who does what in the Kingdom? What is God’s role and our role? Is it something we build for God or that is God’s to build Himself, using us as His instruments? I would argue the latter.

Now I will confess that some believers can carry around these ideas while inconsistently believing at the same time that God is sovereign over their lives. At some level, we all inconsistently believe something that is amiss from the Gospel, which always inevitably results in sin, a turning away from the glory of God, as Paul defines it in Romans and other places. But that’s not to say that these beliefs do not go without their necessary and undesired effects in our lives and even relationships with God. This point is no different. However, missing this point can result in a dramatic shift from the overarching premises of the Bible, which ultimately affects our Gospel message that we are preaching to a dying world who does not know Him. All that to say, this is very important.

Dale Van Dyke has an excellent insight on Bell’s statement above as to what is wrong with this idea that I think further drives this home: “This is a profound and poisonous reinterpretation of the relationship between God and man. When the gospel becomes the message of God coming to earth and dying on a cross to help men realize how great they really are – something is horribly amiss. A teaching that claims that God trusts his glory and sovereign purposes to the abilities of sinful man has the stench of blasphemy.”

This is ultimately the presupposition that is subtly being subverted, if not explicitly then (maybe, without knowing it) implicitly, by adopting the postmodern ethos that we live and breathe in our culture on a constant basis: that man is in such desperate need of being saved because of the depravity and blindness of his soul, that Christ had to actually set aside His glory for a time, embody Himself as a man that could die (like any one of us), and do what we could not by living a life by God’s standards, in perfect obedience, on our behalf, which He then offers as a ransom for us sinners who could in no way lift a finger to save ourselves, by turning away the wrath of God and removing all hindrances from us through His atoning blood, rising from the dead in power, and then infallibly crediting our accounts with His excellent Gospel-work by raising us from among the spiritually dead in the unfolding of time, simply because He loved us and knew we were utterly helpless in our sin.

You are telling me Jesus did all of that simply to go back to heaven, leaving the future of His Kingdom in our sinfully marred, messed up hands, that without His grace, will run to shed innocent blood with the motives of our hearts every day in one way or another? I don’t think so. Rather, maybe it is that God Himself creates in us a faith that wasn’t there by the work of the cross, applied by the Spirit, who gives and then sustains that power in us to carry out all He has required and decreed from eternity (Ephesians 2:10)?

Maybe it’s not so much that God trusts us to get His work done without Him because we’re sufficient in ourselves for the task (which I thought the Christian life was all about humbly submitting ourselves to Him and relying on Him with and for our everything … well what does that actually entail?). But maybe it’s that God effectively and actively intervenes at every point in our lives, from the ground up, intimately and intricately involving Himself in all of it, in such a way that He receives all the glory, by granting us the ability, power, desire, and strength to carry out what He has sovereignly ordained would come to pass from the foundation of the world?

Bell’s statement, while I have no doubt is well-intentioned, subtly negates the all-sufficiency, omnipotence, sovereignty, and eternally effective love of Christ to build His Kingdom, something that in all reality we’re not doing really in the first place. We are merely recipients of His working and doing. It’s His work to build His Kingdom, not ours. Now we are active participants yes, only by God’s decree, yet God does the supernatural work of raising souls from the dead among us. We are merely instruments in the Redeemer’s hands, created to be used by Him in humble submission to His will, not ours and our various flawed, man-centered agendas that would surely hinder the Kingdom if left up to us.

David Well’s puts it so eloquently in His book The Courage to Be Protestant on pg. 196: “God’s inbreaking, saving, vanquishing rule is his from first to last. It has no human analogues, no duplicates, no parallels, and no surrogates. It allows of no human synergism. The inbreaking of the ‘age to come’ into our world is accomplished by God alone. This is all about the spirituality that is from ‘above’ and not at all about that which is from ‘below.’ It is about God reaching down in grace and doing for sinners what they cannot do for themselves. For if this is God’s kingdom, his rule, the sphere of his sovereignty, then it is not for us to take or to establish. We receive, we do not take; we enter, but we do not seize. We come as subjects in his kingdom, not as sovereigns in our own.”

Well’s, on the same page, also says, “We can search for the kingdom of God, pray for it, and look for it, for example, but only God can bring it about (Luke 12:31; 23:51; Matt. 6:10, 33). The kingdom is God’s to give and take away. It is ours only to enter and accept (Matt. 21:43; Luke 12:32). We can inherit it, possess it, or refuse to enter it, but it is not ours to build and we can never destroy it (Matt 25:34: Luke 10:11). We can work for the kingdom, but we can never act upon it. We can preach it, but it is God’s to establish (Matt 10:7; Luke 10:9; 12:32).”

And this right here is a case in point of why in no way can we make the Gospel more attractive to the culture by stripping certain doctrines because they are offensive. What you are left with is not the Gospel, but another religion, which again, is ironic for a movement that hates religion. Atonement, the sinfulness of man (you know, the actual doctrine, not the stripped down version), grace, predestination, the reality of hell. If you strip these from Scripture, what you wind up with is not authentic Christianity, but rather a man-made appearance of something that looks like Christianity, using the same lingo, but falls infinitely short of the Biblical Gospel and is in fact a false gospel, according to Paul.

This message of the cross is an offense to the Jew and the Greek, remember? Well, this Western postmodern culture is of Grecian philosophical descent. Greeks think the Gospel is nonsensical foolishness, based on Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2. Just ask any number of the new atheists like Hitchens or Dawkins and they will fill you in. You cannot strip the doctrines and demands for faith and repentance in the Gospel, for you will be left with no Gospel at all in the end.

In one of the particular conversations I mentioned earlier, the person had gone through some very difficult circumstances recently, none of which I am unsympathetic to by the way. In no way do I question the person seeing and experiencing God at work in it or their own personal beliefs concerning the Gospel. I would say based on that conversation they love Christ even more as a result. However, the person made the statement that it was cool to see that God would “trust us enough that He would let us go through trials.” And as I thought on that statement later, I couldn’t help but think that in no way does God trust me to go through a trial. Is that not the reason God interposed His blood for me and sustains me with His grace, namely because I couldn’t do it at all myself without Him?

Rather, God sovereignly let’s me go through trials and in the midst of it stokes and sustains my faith by His power alone, in such a way that He gets all the glory for all of the working and I get changed into the image of Christ in the process. If God trusted me with my trials, to uphold my faith, without His sustaining power in me, knowing just an inkling of the deceit of my own heart (and based on Scriptures diagnosis of my own heart in Isaiah 64:6), I would walk away from Christ for sure and betray the Kingdom. I love Him because He first loved me and it is that very reality that keeps me attached to Him and it is He that sustains that reality in me.

Bell’s assessment simply misapprehends the depravity of man, the sovereignty of God and the power of Christ’s saving work. And ultimately it eclipses the glory of God, which is the whole point of all creation and the work of salvation to start with. If this is not plain to you, I ask that you think through why God does what He does in anything, from creating, to permitting sin and evil and trials (without being complicit in it of course, a mystery indeed), to redemption. Is it because His modus operandi is to make much of us, or Himself, the most valuable One in all the universe that demands to be praised, because to do less is to dishonor Him? We would all do well to pay attention to what we have seen and heard lest we too become deceived by the working of Satan in attempting to derail the Church. What we need to see and hear more of is the Gospel. And the place we see it is in Scripture, prayer and fellowship. Error always starts out small and then grows, like a festering wound that will ultimately poison your blood and kill you off.

The Practical Implications of Calvinism – Albert N. Martin

http://www.westerfunk.net/archives/theo … Calvinism/

For those of you who claim to be Calvinists (or even if you don’t really), this is a must read article. So you’re a Calvinist. Alright then: have you seen God, been shocked by His glory and your utter unworthiness before Him, as to why He would have mercy on you through the work of Christ and not another?

Here are some quotes:

“I say by way of application, do not talk about being a Calvinist simply because your itch for logical consistency has been relieved by Calvinism’s theological system. Have you seen God? Have you been brought near to Him? That is the issue. I remind you of the words of B. B. Warfield: ‘A Calvinist is a man who has seen God’.”

“The expression, a proud Calvinist, is a misnomer. If a Calvinist is a man who has seen God as He is high and lifted up, enthroned, then he is a man who has been brought to brokenness before that throne as was Isaiah. A carnal Calvinist? Another misnomer! The enthroned One is the holy One, and He dwells in conscious communion with those who are rightly related to Him as the enthroned One and as the holy One. These two things are brought together beautifully in Isaiah 57:15 where the prophet says: ‘Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and a humble spirit’. What is contrition? It is the reaction of a sinner in the presence of a holy God; and, what is humility? It is the reaction of a subject in the presence of a sovereign. Isaiah never forgot this vision, and he says, ‘This great God dwells in that high and holy place, with him also that is of a humble and a contrite spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.’”

“If your understanding of Calvinistic thinking has led you to the place where you can, as it were, boast in your liberty and use it as an occasion for licence, then you have never become a biblical Calvinist. God makes Calvinists today the same way he made them in Isaiah’s day.”

“I submit that a man has no right to speak of being a Calvinist because he can repeat like a parrot phrases brought to him in the great heritage of Reformed literature. He must ask himself, Has the Holy Spirit brought me to this profound sense of God that has worked in me at least in some measure the grace of humility. Has God endowed me with gifts and abilities? if so, what have I that I did not receive? Who makes me to differ? if God has endowed me with gifts and abilities whether intellectual or otherwise, I acknowledge that I have those because a Sovereign upon a throne was pleased to dispense them to me, and the only difference between me and that poor retarded child that moves the pity of my heart, is that He was pleased to make me different. ‘Who maketh thee to differ?’ The man who stands in the presence of a God upon the throne, and who has had this sight and sense of the majesty of God, recognizes that all that he has, has been given. Humility is not diffidence. Humility is that disposition of honest recognition: He is God, I am but a creature. All that I have comes from him and must be rendered to him in praise, and in honour. It will bring with it the submission that we see in Isaiah. He sits upon a throne; I have no rights to assert, but I have the unspeakable privilege of knowing and doing his will. Was not that the reflex action of Isaiah? The Lord is upon the throne; I am the creature. What else can I do but say, ‘Here am I?’”

Here is another excellent quote about the point of Calvinistic doctrine by James White:

“[The Doctrines of Grace] tell us that God is the one who saves, for His own glory, and freely. And they tell us that He does so only through Christ, only on the basis of His grace, only with the perfection that marks everything the Father, Son, and Spirit do. The doctrines of grace separate the Christian faith from the works-based religions of men. They direct us away from ourselves and solely to God’s grace and mercy. They destroy pride, instill humility, and exalt God. And that’s why so many invest so much time in the vain attempt to undermine their truth. The religions of men maintain authority over their followers by 1) limiting God’s power, 2) exalting man’s abilities, and 3) ‘channeling’ God’s power through their own structures. A perfect salvation that is freely bestowed by God for His own glory is not a ‘system’ that can be controlled by a religious body or group. And even more importantly, such a system is destructive of any sense of pride in the creature man, and if there is anything man’s religions must safeguard, it is man’s ‘self esteem.'”

Best explanation of Calvinism I have read (Another must read!): http://www.davidwesterfield.net/static. … =calvinism

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

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