“Propitiation” in the Gospel – The transaction made to atone for the sin of mankind

28 09 2007

A key truth of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, has to do with “propitiation“. Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the just penalty for the sins of His people. The idea that a blood sacrifice by Jesus Christ is necessary for people’s sins to be forgiven by God the Father is offensive and unacceptable to some people. The biblical truths of propitiation, blood sacrifice, atonement for sin, and the requirement by our righteous, Holy God that a just, equitable payment is required as punishment due for each person’s sin is not acceptable to many. But to be saved in Christ – the propitiatory substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ for sin is a requirement. We cant be saved from our sin without believing it.

To deepen your understanding and encourage your faith please take time to read through the commentary of W. E. Vines in the study resource An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (1966 – Flemming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey). Three alternative types of the use of the word Propitiation in the Scriptures are explained.

An understanding of the word “expiate” will be helpful in what follows:

Expiate (definition): to atone for; make amends or reparation for: to expiate one’s crimes.

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I. HILASTERION (noun) “….a propitiation in His blood….”

Romans 3:21-25 (21) But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, (22) even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; (23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (24) being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; (25) whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; (26) for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

In vs 25: HILASTERION….. – In Romans 3:25 this noun (propitiation) is used of Christ Himself…. The phrase “in His blood” is to be taken in immediate connection with “propitiation.” Christ, through His expiatory death, is the Personal means by whom God shows the mercy of His justifying grace to the sinner who believes. His “blood” stands for the voluntary giving up of His life, by the shedding of His blood in expiatory sacrifice, under Divine judgement righteously due to us as sinners, faith being the sole condition on man’s part.”

“The fundamental principle of which God deals with sinners is expressed in the words (from Hebrews 9:22) ‘And according to the Law, one may also say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.’ ……the blood shed was that of Christ. …..it is the Person that gives value to the work; the saving efficacy of the Death depends entirely upon the fact that He Who died was the Son of God.”

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II. HILASMOS (noun) “…the propitiation for our sins…”

1 John 2:1-2 “(1) My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; (2) and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”

1 John 4:9-10 “(9) By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. (10) In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

“(This noun) signifies an expiation, a means whereby sin is covered and remitted. It is used in the New Testament of Christ Himself as “the propitiation,” in 1 John 2:2 and 1 John 4:10, signifying that He Himself, through the expiatory sacrifice of His Death, is the Personal means by whom God shows mercy to the sinner who believes on Christ as the One thus provided. ….. In 1 John 4:10, the fact that God “sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” is shown to be the great expression of God’s love toward man, and the reason why Christians should love one another.”

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III. HILASKOMAI (verb) “…to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Hebrews 2:17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

“It is God who is propitiated by the vindication of His holy and righteous character, whereby, through the provision He has made in the vicarious and expiatory sacrifice of Christ, He has so dealt with sin that He can (show) mercy to the believing sinner in the removal of his guilt and the remission of his sins.”

“….it signifies….in Hebrews 2:17 to expiate, to make propitiation for (the object of the verb being sins)….. Through the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, he who believes upon Him is by God’s own act delivered from justly deserved wrath, and comes under the covenant of grace. Never is God said to be reconciled, a fact itself indicative that the enmity exists on man’s part alone, and that it is man who needs to be reconciled to God, and not God to man. ….. He (God) can act differently towards those who come to Him by faith, and soley on the ground of the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, not because He has changed, but because He ever acts according to His unchanging righteousness.”

“The expiatory work of the Cross is therefore the means whereby the barrier to sin interposes between God and man is broken down. By the giving up of His sinless life sacrificially, Christ annuls the power of sin to separate between God and the believer.”

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My hope is that what is written above will lead you to worship God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son.

Thank You God, for the propitiation for my sin accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. The grace of God be with us. Amen.

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God’s Holiness and Justice (Our Need for God’s Grace in Christ Jesus)

25 09 2007

Unger’s Bible Dictionary (1982, Moody Press) explains the holiness and justice of God in the following way (emphasis added mine):

Regarding God’s Holiness….

“Holiness is one of the essential attributes of the divine nature. It is, on the one hand, entire freedom from moral evil, and upon the other, absolute moral perfection. …. By the holiness of God, it is not implied that He is subject to some law or standard of moral excellence external to Himself, but that all moral law and perfection have their eternal and unchangeable basis in His own nature. He is the One in whom these eternal sanctities reside, Who is Himself the root and ground of them all. In this sense it is said without qualification, “There is no one holy like the LORD,..” 1 Samuel 2:2a; (and) “…For You alone are holy;…” Revelation 15:4

Regarding God’s Justice….

“It (justice) is a necessary outflow from the holiness of God. It is that in a positive form which is negatively described as holiness, or separateness from evil. And further, it is the holiness of God as manifested and applied to moral government. ….. The righteousness or justice of God, also like His holiness, is communicable to men. It is the work of divine grace to impart to men rightness by renewal “in righteousness and true holiness.”

Regarding the “communicableness” of Gods righteousness to mankind mentioned here, note the following Scripture passage:

  • Ephesians 4:20-24But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”

J. I. Packer in Concise Theology (1993, Tyndale House Publishers) says this of God’s holiness and justice:

Regarding God’s Holiness….

“When Scripture calls God, or individual persons of the Godhead, “holy” … the word signifies everything about God that sets Him apart from us and makes Him an object of awe, adoration, and dread to us. It covers all aspects of His transcendent greatness and moral perfection and thus is an attribute of all His attributes, pointing to the “Godness” of God at every point. Every facet of God’s nature and every aspect of His character may properly be spoken of as holy, just because it is His. The core of the concept, however, is God’s purity, which cannot tolerate any form of sin (Habakkak 1:13 “”Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You can not look on wickedness with favor….”) and thus calls sinners to constant self-abasement in His presence (Isaiah 6:5 “Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”)

Regarding God’s Justice….

“Justice, which means doing in all circumstances things that are right, is one expression of God’s holiness. God displays His justice as legislator and judge, and also as promise-keeper and pardoner of sin. His moral law, requiring behavior that matches His own, is “holy, righteous and good” (Romans 7:12). He judges justly, according to actual desert (Genesis 18:25; Psalms 7:11; 96:13; Acts 17:31). His “wrath,” that is, His active judicial hostility to sin, is wholly just in its manifestations (Romans 2:5-16), and His particular ‘judgements’ (retributive punishments) are glorious and praiseworthy (Revelations 16:5, 7; 19:1-4). …. When God justifies sinners through faith in Christ, He does so on the basis of justice done, that is, the punishment of our sins in the person of Christ our substitute; thus the form taken by His justifying mercy shows Him to be utterly and totally just (Romans 3:25-26), and our justification itself is shown to be judicially justified.”

Justification by Faith in Jesus Christ….

  • Romans 3:21-26But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

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How can such serious truths as the holiness and justice of God be so lightly taken by we people, whether we live in Colby in western Kansas or elsewhere? We obviously are largely blinded to our sinfulness and accountability before the Holy God Who will judge this sinful world and with it all mankind in justice and righteousness. We do not realize the extent of the awful heinousness and total repulsiveness of our sin before God Almighty, and the penalty of judgement it will cost us (if we are not born again) or that it cost Jesus Christ on the Cross (if we are born again believers in Jesus Christ).

God, please open our eyes to understand our need for the blood atonement of Jesus Christ to pay the penalty (the propitiation) for our sins. For both born again Christians and unbelievers alike, may God open our eyes to understand our need for the grace of God. We need faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! Eternity as well as the here and now regarding our lives are at stake! (Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of Christ.”)





My Testimony of Saving Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ

23 09 2007

For the next several posts I plan to focus on the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ, as well as some principles of spiritual growth for a Christian.

When I came to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in November 1978, my understanding of the Bible and how God desired that I live the Christian life was extremely limited. After being brought up in a mainline religious denomination that taught a works-based salvation (“holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power;…” 2 Timothy 3:5), God convicted me during my college years that intellectual assent to a set of doctrinal statements and participation in the religious ordinances and/or sacraments of a church were not enough for me to be saved from my sin. In the process of being patiently witnessed / evangelized to by a group of believing Christians in the University residence where I lived over a period of time, I knew that there was literal spiritual evil in the world, that I was a sinner, and that I needed Jesus Christ as my Savior. The Christian brother witnessing to me showed me a gospel illustration titled “The Bridge” developed by the Navigators: ( http://navigators.gospelcom.net/cpr/navresources/page4/files/Bridge.pdf ) The Holy Spirit of God used the truth of the Scripture presented by a faithful witnessing Christian to bring me to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The process of my realization went something like this:

A. God is Holy – Man (me) is a sinner

  • Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

B. God is Eternal – Man (me) dies

  • Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus in our Lord”

C. God has a solution – He (God) is love – Christ died on the cross out of His love for me to pay the penalty for my sin

  • Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

D. Man’s Response to God’s Solution – Believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved

  • 1 John 5:11-13 “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
  • Romans 10:9-10 “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

With this, I came to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in November 1978. From there I was blessed to be mentored and discipled by committed brothers in Christ, who helped to teach me about the daily devotional disciplines of the Christian life (Bible study, prayer. witnessing, scripture memorization, understanding the basic doctrines of the Christian faith). The Lord used this input and foundation building in my life to help establish me in my daily walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. From there, my Christian walk has been an ongoing application and re-application of the following Bible verses:

  • Colossians 2:6-7 “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”
  • 1 John 1:8-9 “If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

For those of you who know you are sinners and need the salvation that is available through the Lord Jesus Christ, please prayerfully consider the Bridge to Life illustration linked above. If you have a religious background and are confused about whether you have a saving faith in Christ, please consider the Scripture below from Hebrews 11 and 1 Corinthians 15, as well as some helpful definitions of the different types of faith people have.

If you do not have a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, please place your faith in Him today for the forgiveness of your sins and the salvation of your soul.

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Question: What is faith in God?

Hebrews 11:1-3, 6: (1)”Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen. (2) For by it the men of old gained approval. (3) By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. ….(6) And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

The Gospel – Good News Regarding Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4: (1) “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, (2) by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the work which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. (3) For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (4) and that He was buried, and that He was raised in the third day according to the Scriptures,”

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Webster’s Dictionary Definition of Faith:

Reference: http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definition/Faith

Protestantism’s Definition of Faith: [Text adapted from Easton’s Bible Dictionary ]In the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.” The object of saving faith is the whole revealed Word of God. Faith accepts and believes it as the very truth most sure. But the special act of faith which unites to Christ has as its object the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 7:38; Acts 16:31). This is the specific act of faith by which a sinner is justified before God (Rom. 3:22, 25; Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9; John 3:16-36; Acts 10:43; 16:31).

A. Faith is a kind of knowledge: Knowledge is an essential element in all faith, and is sometimes spoken of as an equivalent to faith (John 10:38; 1 John 2:3). Yet the two are distinguished in this respect, that faith includes in it assent, which is an act of the will in addition to the act of the understanding.

B. Faith is an operation of the Spirit of God: Assent to the truth is of the essence of faith, and the ultimate ground on which our assent to any revealed truth rests is the veracity of God. Historical faith is the apprehension of and assent to certain statements which are regarded as mere facts of history. Temporary faith is that state of mind which is awakened in men (e.g., Felix) by the exhibition of the truth and by the influence of religious sympathy, or by what is sometimes styled the common operation of the Holy Spirit. Saving faith is so called because it has eternal life inseparably connected with it, and is a special operation of the Holy Spirit.

C. The warrant of faith is the truthfulness of God: The warrant or ground of faith is the divine testimony, not the reasonableness of what God says, but the simple fact that he says it. Faith rests immediately on, “Thus saith the Lord.” But in order to (have) this faith the veracity, sincerity, and truth of God must be owned and appreciated, together with his unchangeableness.





The Doctrine of Election – God Chooses His Own

21 09 2007

Building on the previous post about Predestination, here the doctrine of Election is taken up. Again following from the teaching of J. I. Packer from the book Concise Theology – A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (1993 by Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton Illinois), lets take up the issue of God’s choice of His own people (pages 149-151). Here are some exerpts with supporting scriptural references.

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“The verb elect means “to select, or choose out.” The biblical doctrine of election is that before Creation God selected out of the human race, foreseen as fallen, those whom he would redeem, bring to faith, justify, and glorify in and through Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-29; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:9-14).  This divine choice is an expression of free and sovereign grace, for it is unconstrained and unconditional, not merited by anything in those who are its subjects. God owes sinners no mercy of any kind, only condemnation; so it is a wonder, and matter for endless praise, that he should choose to save any of us; and doubly so when his choice involved the giving of his own Son to suffer as sin-bearer for the elect (Romans 8:32).”

“The elect are, from one standpoint, the Father’s gift to the Son (John 6:39; 10:29; 17:2, 4).  Jesus testifies that he came into this world specifically to save them (John 6:37-40; 10:14-16, 26-29; 15:16; 17:6-26; Ephesians 5:25-27), and an account of his mission must emphasize this.”

“Reprobation is the name given to God’s eternal decision regarding those sinneers whom he has not chosen for life. His decision is in essence a decision not to change them, as the elect are destined to be changed, but to leave them to sin as in their hearts they already want to do, and finally to judge them as they deserve for what they have done.  When in particular instances God gives them over to their sins (i.e., removes restraints on their doing the disobedient things they desire), this is itself the beginning of judgement.  It is called “hardening” (Romans 9:18; 11:25; cf. Psalms 81:12; Romans 1:24, 26, 28), and it inevitably leads to greater guilt. ”

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Dr. Packer goes on to say the following pertaining to being a witness for Christ to each person we meet (since God in His counsel knows who the elect are, and we certainly do not!).  Christians and are bound in obedience and service to the Lord to carry out the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

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Dr. Packer states: “Reprobation is a biblical reality (Romans 9:14-24; 1 Peter 2:8), but not one that bears directly on Christian behavior.  The reprobates are faceless so far as Christians are concerned, and it is not for us to try to identify them.  Rather, we should live in light of the certainty that anyone may be saved if he or she will but repent and put faith in Christ.  We should view all persons that we meet as possibly being numbered among the elect.”

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Some key supporting verses (with my own emphases added):

  • 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14: “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
  • Romans 8:28-30: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His 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. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;”

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In future posts we will move on to other topics aside from the doctrines of predestination and election. These doctrines are very, very challenging to many people, including those who do not know the Lord as well as many of those who do.   Yet with all sincerity I have to say that the doctrines of predestination and election are in the bible because God put them there – and therefore we are under obligation before God to learn of them.

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Sidenote regarding life and community in Colby Kansas.

It would be good for we believers in Colby to pray all that much more determinedly for and provide support our publicly elected local officials.  Folks such as the Thomas County Commissioners, those in law enforcement, public servants in county and city government, the community college leadership, and others in positions of responsibility in the community of Colby need prayerful support.

Issue after issue seems to come up in the local news about difficult decisions to be made today that will affect the economic sustainability, the quality of life and the tax burdens placed on the people in Colby and Thomas County now and in the future.  Partisanship aside, the bible calls us to support these people in prayer and to submit to their leadership. It will also be a testimony for the Lord that we His people are acting as good productive citizens in local governmental affairs.

Romans 13:1-7: Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”

A Churchlayman






Predestination – How does it fit into our beliefs?

20 09 2007

In the book Concise Theology – A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (1993 by Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton Illinois) J. I. Packer explains to Christians who do not have formal theological training (such as myself) the essentials of the doctrine of Predestination (pages 37-39). Here is an exerpt with supporting scriptural references.

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“Predestination is a word often used to signify God’s foreordaining of all the events of world history, past, present, and future, and this usage is quite appropriate. In Scripture and mainstream theology, however, predestination means specifically God’s decision, made in eternity before the world and its inhabitants existed, regarding the final destiny of individual sinners. In fact, the New Testament uses the words predestination and election (the two are one), only of God’s choice of particular sinners for salvation and eternal life (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11). Many have pointed out, however, that Scripture also ascribes to God an advance decision about those who finally are not saved (Romans 9:6-29; 1 Peter 2:8; Jude 4), and so it has become usual in Protestant theology to define God’s predestination as including both his decision to save some from sin (election) and his decision to condemn the rest for their sin (reprobation), side by side.”

“To the question, “On what basis did God choose individuals for salvation?” it is sometimes replied: on the basis of his foreknowledge that when faced with the gospel they would choose Christ as their Savior. In that reply, foreknowledge means passive foresight on God’s part of what individuals are going to do, without his predetermining their action.”

“But

a) Foreknow in Romans 8:29; 11:2 (cf. 1 Peter 1:2 and 1:2, where the New International Version (Bible) renders the Greek foreknown as “chosen”) means “fore-love” and “fore-appoint”: it does not express the idea of a spectator’s anticipation of what will spontaneously happen.

b) Since all are naturally dead in sin (i.e., cut off from the life of God and unresponsive to him), no one who hears the gospel will ever come to repentence and faith without the inner quickening that only God can impart (Ephesians 2:4-10). Jesus said: “No one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him” (John 6:65, cf. 44; 10:25-28). Sinners choose Christ only because God chose them for this choice and moved them to it by renewing their hearts.”

“Though all human acts are free in the sense of being self-determined, none are free from God’s control according to his eternal purpose and foreordination.”

“Christians should therefore thank God for their conversion, look to him to keep them in the grace into which he has brought them, and confidently await his final triumph, according to his plan.” (end of quote)

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Take note of some of the key scriptures referred to above (emphasis added mine, all references from the New American Standard Bible i.e., “NASB”):

Romans 8:29 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;”

Ephesians 1: 4-5 “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,”

Ephesians 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,”

1 Peter 2:8 “and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.”

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And so, what impact do these scriptures and a biblical understanding of the doctrine of predestination have for people in Colby in Western Kansas? Does it matter that people think of God as sovereign in all things in their lives and in the whole world, especially things relating to their salvation?

Resoundingly, the answer is YES!!!! In trials, sickness, and loss people need to rely on the sovereignty of God, to trust that He is in control of the universe and their lives. We people need to have faith that God has not just set the universe in motion and walked away to leave us to make a mess of it as we humans inevitably do (goes back to the fall of man, the curse of sin, etc.). Even in success, prosperity, and good health we need to give thanks to the sovereign God “from Whom all blessings flow” – maintaining humility and reverence before Him so that we can avoid the pitfalls and judgements that come from the onset of our pride and vanity in this moral universe that God created, planned, and will justly judge.

Aside from the “must do’s” and busy schedules of our lives in Colby or wherever people live, in the stillness of our hearts we need to trust in the Sovereignty of God to avoid the despair that will come if God Almighty and Jesus Christ His Son are not there to turn to for forgiveness of sin. Given how naturally sinful we people are, we all need to rely on a sovereign God to save us from the penalty of our sin. Personally, I have little and no confidence in my flesh or in my will or in my intellect to save my soul from the just penalty of my sin. My salvation is all the work of God – from eternity past to eternity future. Amen!

Churchlayman





Election and Predestination as a Minority Theological Stance

19 09 2007

My experiences in evangelical churches in Colby and western Kansas and elsewhere in the regions of Iowa and Nebraska that I have lived in have shown me that relatively few people have a calvinistic or reformed – oriented understanding of the biblical doctrines of election and predestination.

It is no surprise and in fact expected that unsaved people would recoil at discussions of the sovereignty of God in matters of personal salvation. To acknowledge that God is sovereign and in control would be an affront to the rebelliousness of sin that sinners apart from God live in, and to acknowledge that they themselves are not “the captain of their own ship.” The only recourse for people that are not born again is to hear the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ told, preached and taught to them through faithful witnesses so that they too may be saved. God will do the leading and convicting of sin in their hearts inspite of the “foolishness of the message” (from their unsaved point of view).

That believers in Christ also recoil from and reject these doctrines is more frustrating to deal with on my part (yet in some ways understandable). Some have never been adequately taught from the bible in their churches about election and predestination. Some have heard teaching on these subjects and instead chose to orient their beliefs toward man’s responsibility or “free will” as opposed to God’s sovereignty in working out their salvation. My perception is that at least as many if not the majority of evangelical churches in this region of Kansas orient their teaching towards “free will” as opposed to “God’s sovereignty” in regards to these theological matters.

A document provided by Pastor Bob DeWaay at Critical Issues Commentary provides a list of bible verses and passages which address the doctrines of election and predestination. Follow this link: http://cicministry.org/scholarly.php and select the MS Word document on “The Biblical Doctrine of Election”.

Instead of the raucous discussions and disagreements that we believers so often engage in when this subject is brought up, lets instead examine what the bible presents, and prayerfully allow God to lead us with clarity, spiritual power and insight to the understanding He desires for each of us to have on this subject. Regardless, the study of this subject is so closely associated with the divine sovereignty of God that it cant help but lead us to worship if our hearts are right in approaching it. Praise God for His powerful work in saving unworthy sinners such as myself!

So, the bible does speak volumes about election and predestination. If God determined to tell us of these truths in His written word, then we choose to ignore or discount His message to us at our own peril.

All this said, these doctrines can be very difficult to wrestle with – especially as we try to understand the paradoxical issues of man’s responsibility for his sin while at the same time greatfully acknowledging God’s sovereignty in election and predestination. My hope is that each person would be edified and encouraged in his or her heart as they grow to understand the workings, love, justice and sovereign control of God in these matters.

In Christ by the sovereign grace of God,

A church layman





The Biblical Doctrine of Total Depravity, i.e. the lost sinful state of mankind without God

18 09 2007

Dateline: Colby Kansas

It seems that an understanding of the seriousness of our sin and the condemnation it deserves before a Holy God is necessary before we can understand the loving grace that God has bestowed upon those who believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation. As always, an understanding of these issues is of critical importance to people in Colby Kansas, both for those who already have a saving faith in Jesus Christ and for those who have not yet believed.

Sin is an evil and serious reality – the world is not a morally neutral relativistic place in the eyes of God Almighty, the righteous and just Judge of heaven and earth!

Mike Ratliff writes a blog titled “Possessing the Treasure” which I have followed and benefited from for a good while now. http://mikeratliff.wordpress.com/ Mike is beginning a series of posts focused on addressing the doctrine of Total Depravity, or as he refers to it, “Total Inability”. The first in this planned series of posts can be found here: http://mikeratliff.wordpress.com/2007/09/18/total-inability/

Another online source, Monogerism.com www.monergism.com/ lists a storehouse full of useful references on Total Depravity which can be found via a search of the site.

From this site, a reference from the teaching of John Piper on total depravity is helpful to me:
http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/piper/depravity.html

Piper explains and expands upon four (4) major points in this article regarding the sinful state of man apart from God, i.e. mankind’s total depravity:

“Man’s depravity is total in at least four senses.

(1) Our rebellion against God is total. Apart from the grace of God there is no delight in the holiness of God, and there is no glad submission to the sovereign authority of God.

(2) In his total rebellion everything man does is sin.

(3) Man’s inability to submit to God and do good is total.

(4) Our rebellion is totally deserving of eternal punishment.

In summary, total depravity means that our rebellion against God is total, everything we do in this rebellion is sin, our inability to submit to God or reform ourselves is total, and we are therefore totally deserving of eternal punishment.It is hard to exaggerate the importance of admitting our condition to be this bad. If we think of ourselves as basically good or even less than totally at odds with God, our grasp of the work of God in redemption will be defective.”

The Bible speaks directly to the issue of mankind’s fallen sinfulness, i.e., our “total depravity”.

Romans 7:18: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” (NASB)

Romans 7:21-25: “I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” (NASB)

Indeed, thanks be to God the Father for providing us with salvation through Jesus Christ. In Him, according to His word the bible, we people who are so inclined by our natural born sinful natures to be in sinful rebellion against God, can find freedom from the bonds of sin in our lives.

God is holy, good and mighty, and He is able to save those who call upon Him in times of need. Let us do so – because we all are surely in need of help in our struggle with the sin that so easily entangles us.

In Christ Jesus,

A churchlayman