“God’s Grace as a Rule of Life” (Chafer and Walvoord, 1974)

3 12 2012

In the classic book “Major Bible Themes” (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan – 1974) (click here), author John Walvoord (updating the original work of Lewis Sperry Chafer published in 1923 and 1956) discusses the Grace of God as a Rule of Life (Chapter 29, pages 192-193-71).  Walvoord presents an “operative” view of the grace of God that is accessible, applicable and helpful to born again believers like you and I today.

File:Sunrise, Manaslu.jpg Manaslu (also known as Kutang) is the eighth highest mountain in the world, part of the Nepalese Himalayas.  Its name, which means “Mountain of the Spirit”, comes from the Sanskrit word Manasa, meaning “intellect” or “soul”. Manaslu is 8,156 metres (26,759 ft) above mean sea level (source: Wikipedia)

Following are some quotations from Walvoord/Chafer in regards to the grace of God as a rule of life for us…..

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“For the child of God under grace, every aspect of the law is now done away with.

1. The legal commands of the Mosaic system and the commands which are to govern the kingdom are not now the guiding principles of the Christian.  They have been superseded by a new and gracious rule of conduct which includes in itself all that is vital in the law, but restates it under the peculiar order and character of grace.

2. The child of God under grace has been delivered from the burden of a covenant of works.  He is not now striving to be accepted, but rather is free to live as one who is accepted in Christ.

3. The child of God is not now called upon to live by the energy of his own flesh.  He has been delivered from the feature of the law and may live in the power of the indwelling Spirit. Since the written law was delivered to Israel, she alone could be delivered from the written commandments of Moses by the death of Christ.  However, both Jew and Gentile were delivered by that death from the hopeless principle of human merit and from the useless struggle of the flesh.

4. In contrast with law, the word “grace” refers to the unmerited favor which represents the divine method of dealing with mans that was introduced by Adam.  Under grace, God does not treat men as they deserve, but He treats them in infinite mercy and grace without reference to their desserts.  This He is free to do on the ground that the righteous punishment for sin, which His holiness would otherwise impose upon sinners as the just dessert, was borne for the sinner by the Son of God (i.e., by Jesus Christ in his atoning death on the Cross of Calvary – blogger’s note).

5. In contrast with law, grace is revealed in three different aspects: (a) salvation by grace, (b) safekeeping by grace, and (c) grace as a rule of life for the saved.

Approaching the Manaslu Mountain Summit

5a) Salvation by grace: God saves sinners by grace, and there is no other way of salvation offered to men.

Acts 4:12: “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (NASB)

Saving grace is the limitless, unrestrained love of God for the lost acting in compliance with the exact and unchangeable demands of His own righteousness through the  sacrificial death of Christ. Grace is more than love; is it love set free and made to be a triumphant victor over the righteous judgments of God against the sinner.

When He saves a sinner by grace, it is necessary that God shall deal with every sin, for they would otherwise demand judgment and thus hinder His grace.  This He has wrought in the death of His Son.  It is also necessary that every obligation shall be canceled, and to this end salvation has been made an absolute gift from God.

John 10:28: “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (NASB)

Likewise, it is necessary that every human merit shall be set aside, lest the thing which God accomplishes be in any measure based on the merit of men and not on His sovereign grace aloneSince every human element is excluded, the gospel of grace is the proclamation of the mighty, redeeming, transforming grace of God, which offers eternal life and eternal glory to all who believe.

Galations 3:22 “But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” (NASB) 

5b) Safekeeping through grace: The divine program of safekeeping through grace demonstrates that through grace alone God keeps those who are saved.  Having provided a way whereby He can act in freedom from His own righteous demands against sin, having disposed of every human obligation for payment, and having set aside eternally every human merit, God has only to continue the exercise of grace toward the saved one to secure his safekeeping forever.  This He does, and the child of God is said to stand in grace.

Romans 5:2 “through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” (NASB)

5c) Grace as a rule of rule of life for the saved: God provides also a rule of life for the saved based on the grace principle.  God teaches those who are saved and kept how they should live in grace and how they may live to His eternal glory.  As the law provided a complete rule of conduct for Israel, so God has provided a complete rule of conduct for the Christian.  Since all rules of life which are presented in the Bible are complete in themselves, it is not necessary that they be combined.  Therefore the child of God is not under law as a rule of life, but he is under the counsels of grace.  What he does under grace is not done to secure the favor of God, but it is done because he is already accepted in the Beloved (i.e., accepted by saving grace through faith in Jesus Christ).  It is not undertaken in the energy of the flesh, but is is the outliving and manifestation of the power of the indwelling Spirit.  It is a life which is lived on the principle of faith.

Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.”  (NASB)

Hebrews 10:38 “But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” (NASB)

Mount Manaslu Mount Manaslu

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Blogger’s Comments….

We are saved only by grace through faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross in payment for our sins.  Concerning the way and means of salvation, God says in His Word in Romans 10:5-17…

For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 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; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

16 However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Mount Manaslu





God is Faithful

10 12 2007

God IS faithful in all He does as He carries out His divine will. Because He is faithful, we His people can look forward to the future in both this life and for eternity. We do not have to be overcome by worry about the needs in our lives.

Following are some Scripture passages that explain the faithfulness of God, and in turn can build up our faith and trust in the Lord God Almighty.

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1. Matthew 6:25-34

“(25) For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (26) Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? (27) And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? (28) And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, (29) yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. (30) But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! (31) Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ (32) For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. (33) But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (34) So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

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2. Dueteronomy 7:8-10

“(8) but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (9) Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; (10) but repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face.”

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In The Attributes of God (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan – 2001) (click here) A. W. Pink discusses the working out of God’s faithfulness in His dealing with all of mankind (pages 52-56)…

“Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God” (Deuteronomy 7:9). This quality is essential to His being, without it He would not be God. For God to be unfaithful would be to act contrary to His nature, which were impossible: “If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).”

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3. 1 Corinthians 1:4-9

“(4) I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, (5) that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, (6) even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, (7) so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, (8) who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (9) God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

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Again, A. W. Pink says…

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4. 1 Corinthians 10:13

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

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5. 2 Thessalonians 3:2-4

“(2) and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. (3) But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. (4) We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command.”

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6. 2 Timothy 2:11-13

“(11) It is a trustworthy statement:
For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
(12) If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
(13) If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”

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Following are more of A. W. Pink’s observations on God’s faithfulness, focusing on God’s preservation of His people…

God is faithful in preserving His people. “God is faithful, by whom ye are called unto the fellowship of His Son” (1 Corinthinans 1:9). In the previous verse promise was made that God would confirm unto the end His own people. The Apostle’s confidence in the absolute security of believers was founded not on the strength of their resolutions or ability to persevere, but on the veracity of Him that cannot lie. Since God has promised to His Son a certain people for His inheritance, to deliver them from sin and condemnation, and to make them participants of eternal life in glory, it is certain that He will not allow any of them to perish.”

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7. Hebrews 3:1-3

“(1) Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; (2) He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. (3) For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house.”

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8. 1 Peter 4:19

“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

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9. Revelation 21:4-6

“(4) and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

(5) And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new ” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” (6) Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.”

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10. Revelation 22:1-7

“(1) Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, (2) in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (3) There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; (4) they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. (5) And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.”

“(6) And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true“; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. (7) And behold, I am coming quickly Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”

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Other quotes from A. W. Pink regarding God’s faithfulness…..

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“God is faithful in disciplining His people. He is faithful in what He withholds, no less than in what He gives. He is faithful in sending sorrow as well as in giving joy. The faithfulness of god is a truth to be confessed by us not only when we are at ease, but also when we are smarting under the sharpest rebuke. Nor must this confession be merely of our mouths, but of our hearts, too. When God smites us with the rod of chastisement, it is faithfulness which wields it. To acknowledge this means that we humble ourselves before Him, own that we fully deserve His correction, and instead of murmuring, thank Him for it. God never afflicts without reason. “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you” (1 Corinthians 11:30), says Paul, illustrating this principle. When His rod falls upon us let us say with Daniel, “O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces’ (Daniel 9:7)”

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These last words quoted from A.W. Pink are our application regarding how we should respond to God in regards to His faithfulness….





The Supremacy of God

18 10 2007

In “The Attributes of God” (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids Michigan – 2001) (http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Attributes/attributes.htm) Arthur W. Pink discusses the Supremacy of God.

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Personal Observations:

The pace of life has been moving along pretty quickly this week, with work-related activities demanding my attention outside of Colby, Kansas from Monday morning through Thursday afternoon, and with more time to be spent away from Colby on family activities from Friday afternoon – through Saturday evening. There is much good to be accomplished through these family and work related activities – I am not complaining about them or ungrateful.

Even with all this traveling around and busy activity, I hope to keep in mind worshipful, appreciative, and trusting thoughts toward God. God is divine and supreme – He is above all and sovereignly in control of all the things. I need to remember that all the activities and paths of my life are part of God’s plan, His sovereign decree over all things. Lord, I trust You regarding the path I am on – may I carry out these tasks and responsibilities with Your zeal and strength for Your purposes. May You be honored in all things I and my family are involved in in life.

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Following are more thoughts from A. W. Pink on the Supremacy of God. Most but not all of the formatting and textual emphasis in what follows below are my efforts to highlight particular parts of Pink’s text.

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A. Our Thoughts About God are typically “too small”

  • Men imagine that the Most High is moved by sentiment, rather than actuated by principle.
  • They suppose that His omnipotency is such an idle fiction that Satan is thwarting His designs on every side.
  • They think that if He has formed any plan or purpose at all, then it must be like theirs, constantly subject to change.
  • They openly declare that whatever power He possesses must be restricted, lest He invade the citadel of man’s “free will” and reduce him to a “machine.”
  • They lower the all efficacious Atonement, which has actually redeemed everyone for whom it was made, to a mere “remedy,” which sin-sick souls may use if they feel disposed to;
  • and they enervate the invincible work of the Holy Spirit to an “offer” of the Gospel which sinners may accept or reject as they please.”

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B. God’s Absolute, Universal Supremacy is Revealed in Scripture

  • Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory and the majesty: for all in the heaven and all in the earth is Thine; Thine is the Kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as Head above all. . . .And Thou reignest over all” (1 Chron. 29:11, 12)……
  • O Lord God of our fathers, art not Thou, God in heaven? and rulest not Thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in Thine hand is there not power and might, so that none (not even the Devil himself) is able to withstand Thee?” (2 Chron. 20:6). Before Him presidents and popes, kings and emperors, are less than grasshoppers.
  • But He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (Job 23:13).

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C. God is the Supreme King of Kings and Lord of Lords

“….the God of Scripture is no make-believe monarch, no mere imaginary sovereign, but King of kings, and Lord of lords. I know that Thou canst do everything, and that no thought of Thine can be hindered” (Job 42:3, margin), or, as another translator, “no purpose of Thine can be frustrated.”

All that He has designed He does. All that He has decreed, He performs. “But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psa. 115.3); and why has He? Because “there is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord” (Prov 21:30).

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D. God is Supreme over All His Creation

  • At His pleasure the Red Sea divided and its waters stood up as walls (Ex. 14);
  • … the earth opened her mouth, and guilty rebels went down alive into the pit (Num. 14).
  • When He so ordered, the sun stood still (Josh. 10);
  • … on another occasion went backward ten degrees on the dial of Ahaz (Isa. 38:8).
  • To exemplify His supremacy, He made ravens carry food to Elijah (1 Kings 17),
  • … iron to swim on top of the waters (2 Kings 6:5),
  • … lions to be tame when Daniel was cast into their den,
  • … fire to burn not when the three Hebrews were flung into its flames.

Thus “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places” (Psa. 135:6).

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E. God’s Supremecy is Revealed in the New Testament

F. Resting Upon God’s Supremacy in our hearts

  • A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps” (Prov. 16:9). What assurance, what strength, what comfort should this give the real Christian!
  • My times are in Thy hand” (Ps. 31:15).
  • Then let me “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Ps. 37:7).

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Churchlayman





God’s Foreknowledge and Unconditional Election unto Salvation

12 10 2007

What we understand and believe about the nature of God’s foreknowledge directly affects whether we believe that election is “conditional” or “unconditional“.

Following are definitions of Unconditional Election and Conditional Election provided by the online Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unconditional_election):

“In Protestant theology, election is considered to be one aspect of predestination in which God selects certain individuals to be saved. Those elected receive mercy, while those not elected, the reprobate, receive justice.

In Calvinism, this election is called “unconditional” because his choice to save someone does not hinge on anything inherent in the person or on any act that the person performs or belief that the person exercises. Indeed, according to the doctrine of total inability (the first of the five points of Calvinism), the influence of sin has so inhibited the individual’s volition that no one is willing or able to come to or follow God apart from God first regenerating the person’s heart to give them the ability to love him. Hence, God’s choice in election is and can only be based solely on God’s own independent and sovereign will and not upon the foreseen actions of man.

The Reformed position is frequently contrasted with the Arminian doctrine of conditional election in which God’s eternal choice to save a person is conditioned on God’s certain foreknowledge of future events, namely, that certain individuals would exercise faith and trust in response to God’s offer of salvation.”

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If two Christian brothers disagree on the doctrine of election, it is likely that the root of their disagreement is in their respective beliefs and understanding of the doctrine of God’s foreknowledge. The person who believes that God’s election of persons unto salvation is conditional on His foreknowledge of whether they will choose to have saving faith in Jesus Christ typically has a vigorous disagreement with the one who believes that God in His foreknowledge chose or elected some of all of mankind who are lost in sin to be saved (for His divine purposes and good pleasure). Generally, the former leans more toward Arminian or “free will” oriented theological positions emphasizing man’s responsibility to “choose” to believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation. The later leans toward “Calvinistic” or “predestination” oriented theological positions emphasizing God’s sovereign choice in electing people unto salvation through Jesus Christ. At the root of this difference in understanding about the nature of divine election unto salvation is a difference in our understanding of the nature and effect of God’s foreknowledge.

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Those such as myself who are Calvinistic in their beliefs emphasize the doctrines of God’s grace in regards to salvation. We believe strongly in unconditional election flowing from the sovereign decree of God over all things.

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Since it is beyond my capabilities to adequately explain this Calvinistic view of God’s foreknowledge, again I am turning to A. W. Pink’s explanation in The Attributes of God (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan – 2001). (Any bold or underlined text in what follows are my own efforts to highlight certain points for the reader.)

http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Attributes/attributes.htm

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A. Confusion and Disagreement about the Nature of God’s Foreknowledge

“When the solemn and blessed subject of Divine foreordination is expounded, when God’s eternal choice of certain ones to be conformed to the image of His Son is set forth, the Enemy sends along some man to argue that election is based upon the foreknowledge of God, and this “foreknowledge” is interpreted to mean that God foresaw certain ones would be more pliable than others, that they would respond more readily to the strivings of the Spirit, and that because God knew they would believe, He, accordingly, predestinated them unto salvation. But such a statement is radically wrong. It repudiates the truth of total depravity, for it argues that there is something good in some men. It takes away the independency of God, for it makes His decrees rest upon what He discovers in the creature. It completely turns things upside down, for in saying God foresaw certain sinners would believe in Christ, and that because of this, He predestinated them unto salvation, is the very reverse of the truth. Scripture affirms that God, in His high sovereignty, singled out certain ones to be recipients of His distinguishing favors (Acts 13:48), and therefore He determined to bestow upon them the gift of faith. False theology makes God’s foreknowledge of our believing the cause of His election to salvation; whereas, God’s election is the cause, and our believing in Christ is the effect.

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B. Scriptural “Foreknowledge” is in reference to Persons, not to their Actions

“The fact is that “foreknowledge” is never used in Scripture in connection with events or actions; instead, it always has reference to persons. It is persons God is said to “foreknow,” not the actions of those persons. In proof of this we shall now quote each passage where this expression is found.”

  • The first occurrence is in Acts 2:23. There we read, “Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” If careful attention is paid to the wording of this verse it will be seen that the apostle was not there speaking of God’s foreknowledge of the act of the crucifixion, but of the Person crucified: “Him (Christ) being delivered by,” etc.
  • The second occurrence is in Romans 8:29,30. “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image, of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called,” etc. Weigh well the pronoun that is used here. It is not what He did foreknow, but whom He did. It is not the surrendering of their wills nor the believing of their hearts but the persons themselves, which is here in view.
  • God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew” (Rom. 11:2). Once more the plain reference is to persons, and to persons only.
  • The last mention is in 1 Peter 1:2: “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Who are elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father? The previous verse tells us: the reference is to the “strangers scattered” i.e. the Diaspora, the Dispersion, the believing Jews. Thus, here too the reference is to persons, and not to their foreseen acts.

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C. People are the Object of God’s Foreknowledge in Scripture – Not their Actions

“Now in view of these passages (and there are no more) what scriptural ground is there for anyone saying God “foreknew” the acts of certain ones, viz., their “repenting and believing,” and that because of those acts He elected them unto salvation? The answer is, None whatever. Scripture never speaks of repentance and faith as being foreseen or foreknown by God. Truly, He did know from all eternity that certain ones would repent and believe, yet this is not what Scripture refers to as the object of God’s “foreknowledge.” The word uniformly refers to God’s foreknowing persons; …”

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D. God’s Sovereign Decree is evidenced in God’s Foreknowledge

“Another thing to which we desire to call particular attention is that the first two passages quoted (i.e. Acts 2:23 and Romans 8:29) above show plainly and teach implicitly that God’s “foreknowledge” is not causative, that instead, something else lies behind, precedes it, and that something is His own sovereign decree. Christ was “delivered by the (1) determinate counsel and (2) foreknowledge of God.” (Acts 2:23). His “counsel” or decree was the ground of His foreknowledge. So again in Romans 8:29. That verse opens with the word “for,” which tells us to look back to what immediately precedes. What, then, does the previous verse say? This, “all things work together for good to them. . . .who are the called according to His purpose.” Thus God’s foreknowledge is based upon His purpose or decree (see Ps. 2:7).”

God foreknows what will be because He has decreed what shall be. It is therefore a reversing of the order of Scripture, a putting of the cart before the horse, to affirm that God elects because He foreknows people. The truth is, He “foreknows” because He has elected. This removes the ground or cause of election from outside the creature, and places it in God’s own sovereign will. God purposed in Himself to elect a certain people, not because of anything good in them or from them, either actual or foreseen, but solely out of His own mere pleasure. As to why He chose the ones He did, we do not know, and can only say, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” The plain truth of Romans 8:29 is that God, before the foundation of the world, singled out certain sinners and appointed them unto salvation (2 Thess. 2:13). This is clear from the concluding words of the verse: “Predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son,” etc. God did not predestinate those whom He foreknew were “conformed,” but, on the contrary, those whom He “foreknew” (i.e., loved and elected) He predestinated to be conformed. Their conformity to Christ is not the cause, but the effect of God’s foreknowledge and predestination.

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E. The Final Humbling Point Regarding God’s Foreknowledge and Our Salvation

“If then the reader be a real Christian, he is so because God chose him in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), and chose not because He foresaw you would believe, but chose simply because it pleased Him to choose: chose you notwithstanding your natural unbelief.”

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Another source of grace-oriented teaching in regards to God’s Foreknowledge can be found at the Grace To You website authored by Pastor John MacArthur, Jr. (http://www.gty.org/). The following references address the issue in a direct manner.

http://www.gty.org/Resources/Transcripts/90-181

http://www.gty.org/Resources/Transcripts/90-273

http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/9692

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Pastor Bob DeWaay addresses the critical theological issue of open theism and the foreknowledge of God in one of his “Critical Issue Commentaries”: http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue58.htm

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Our understanding of theological issues such as God’s foreknowledge, election, predestination, the person of Christ, the attributes of God, etc., etc. are not just arcane exercises in intellectual gymnastics. What we believe about unconditional election affects our approach to telling others about the gospel of Christ. If we believe in unconditional election and predestination, we should preach the gospel message faithfully – trusting that God will bring all His elect to salvation through the preaching of God’s word by ourselves and/or others. If we instead believe in conditional election without reliance on God’s independent predestination of His chosen ones unto salvation, then the responsibility for saving people is upon ourselves. They are lost in sin and we as Christians are inadequate  to fulfill our responsibilities in this view of God’s workings. With careful thought a person can figure out the impact these two divergent beliefs have upon church ministries and how the Christian life is lived. Those believing in conditional election will tend more and more toward the use of every “gospel-marketing approach” they can possibly construe of (biblical or not) to “fulfill their responsibility”as they see it to bring others to Christ.  Much more can be said on this, but it will wait for another time.

God is much more reliable than we are in bringing His elect unto saving faith in Jesus Christ! I will cast my lot in reliance on God’s abilities and sovereignty in the matter of people’s (including my own) salvation rather than on any abilities I may have in this area. Calvinist or not, we as Christians are called in obedience to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8), and to carry out the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:21). Evangelism for someone who is Calvinistic in their theological understanding is an issue of obedience and loving service to God, trusting Him for the ultimate results and fruit.

Churchlayman





God’s Solitariness (exerpts from “Attributes of God” by A.W. Pink)

3 10 2007

In The Attributes of God (2001, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan), Scottish pastor/teacher A.W. Pink (1886-1952) discusses the characteristics of God as revealed from the Scriptures: http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Attributes/attributes.htm

Following are a few exerpts from the first chapter of the book on “The Solitariness of God”. Some underlined and highlighted areas of emphasis in the text are of my doing in trying to bring attention to key ideas in Pastor Pink’s text.

Pastor Pink challenges his readers to study, think and pray about the attributes of God. As Christians lets take up that challenge, following the Biblical admonition of Colossians 3:1-2 to “….keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things that are on the earth.”

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A. “In the beginning God…..” (Genesis 1:1)

“In the beginning, God” (Gen. 1:1). There was a time, if “time” it could be called, when God, in the unity of His nature (though subsisting equally in three Divine Persons), dwelt all alone. “In the beginning, God.” There was no heaven, where His glory is now particularly manifested. There was no earth to engage His attention. There were no angels to hymn His praises; no universe to be upheld by the word of His power. There was nothing, no one, but God; and that, not for a day, a year, or an age, but “from everlasting.” During a past eternity, God was alone: self-contained, self-sufficient, self-satisfied; in need of nothing. Had a universe, had angels, had human beings been necessary to Him in any way, they also had been called into existence from all eternity. The creating of them when He did, added nothing to God essentially. He changes not (Mal. 3:6), therefore His essential glory can be neither augmented nor diminished. (A. W. Pink)
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B. What can we give to God or How can we affect Him?

We are well aware that the high ground we are here treading is new and strange to almost all of our readers; for that reason it is well to move slowly. Let our appeal again be to the Scriptures. At the end of Romans 11, where the apostle brings to a close his long argument on salvation by pure and sovereign grace, he asks, “For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counselor? Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed to him again?” (vv. 34,35). The force of this is, it is impossible to bring the Almighty under obligations to the creature; God gains nothing from us. “If thou be righteous, what givest thou Him? Or what receiveth He of thine hand? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man” (Job 35:7,8), but it certainly cannot affect God, who is all-blessed in Himself. “When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants.'” (Luke 17:10)—our obedience has profited God nothing. (A. W. Pink)

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C. “He is worthy of our reverent worship and obedience”

Nor is the testimony of the New Testament any different from that of the Old: how could it be, seeing that both have one and the same Author! There too we read, “Which in His times He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords: Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man bath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting, Amen” (1 Tim. 6:16). Such an One is to be revered, worshipped, adored. He is solitary in His majesty, unique in His excellency, peerless in His perfections. He sustains all, but is Himself independent of all. He gives to all, but is enriched by none. (A. W. Pink)

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D. “God is only known to those that He reveals Himself to”

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There is much more in terms of Scripture references and of Pink’s commentary in this section of the book for your benefit and edification. This study should lead all of us to the praise, adoration and reverential worship of God.

People who are born again believers in Christ in Colby and surrounding communities of Western Kansas have the need to seek the Lord, to worship Him, to study His Word the Bible, and to pray for and love one another in accord with commands of Christ. Amen.

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Churchlayman






To Repent and Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Easy Believe-ism vs Lordship Salvation)

1 10 2007

I became aware the the debate about lordship salvation around the time that John MacArthur and Charles Ryrie wrote their respective books on the issue. John F. MacArthur, Jr. wrote The Gospel According to Jesus (Zondervan:1988) supporting the concept of lordship salvation, while Charles C. Ryrie wrote So Great Salvation (Victor Books:1989) in general opposition to the idea. Following is a comparative review of the two books (leaning toward MacArthur it has to be fairly noted)

Lordship Salvation — Two Views http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/BookReviews/gospel.htm

By that time I had been a christian for about a decade, but not really mature enough in my christian life to understand the consequences of and focus upon the issue. However, I was aware of a situation in a local evangelical church where a teacher associated with a parachurch ministry was disciplined for having an extreme view of lordship salvation. The details were sketchy, but evidently in his evangelistic efforts this person was heavily focusing upon the lordship and personal sacrifice aspects of a person’s conversion to Christ in a manner that was unacceptable to the leadership of the apparently biblically sound evangelical church in the community.

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My theological leanings at that time were toward a “vigorous support and loyalty toward” the doctrinal positions of Dallas Theological Seminary in general (Drs. John Woolvord, Dwight Pentecost, Howard Hendricks, Ron Blue, Lewis Sperry Chafer, etc., etc.) and Dr. Charles Ryrie in particular. Whatever Dr. Ryrie stated in his study bible notes was my first choice in this and almost any theological matter at that stage in my christian life. So without critical examination of this issue and with strong loyalty to Ryrie’s study Bible notes (whose bible interpretations ministry I am still largely thankful for to guide me in my christian walk during the 1978-mid 1990s), I cast a “wary, critical eye” toward the positions of John MacArthur and others regarding lordship salvation.

During that time and up until 2-3 years ago, I also heard of very valid criticisms of “easy believe-ism“, the idea that people could come to faith in the Jesus Christ but not have to repent of sin in their lives, i.e., not live in accordance with His Lordship. The “bad fruit” of “easy-believe-ism” is in evidence where and when-ever anyone claims the be a believer in Jesus Christ but either shows no evidence of growth in Christ-like purity of life, or even worse, out-right denies or refuses to deny and separate themselves from sinful habits and acts in their life.

I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of my soul in November 1978. As honestly as I can relate it to anyone, at that time I acknowledged that Jesus Christ is Lord – however I was woefully naive about the amount of “house cleaning” the Lord was about to begin doing in my sinful life given that now He was may Lord and Savior. First, I was convicted by God about the “shadiness” and in many cases sinfulness of my motives for going to bars, drinking alcohol, and engaging in common worldly forms of entertainment. Then came God’s work upon the purity of my thought-life and my language, and the acceptability before God of other attitudes (pride, covetousness, etc.) and actions in my life. So for me, I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ in November 1978, upon which the Lord immediately began an ongoing project (continuing to this day) of dealing with the sin in my life – working, working, working to build me up into the image of Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:9-11). The extension of His Lordship over my life has been an issue of growth over time – I acknowledged without resistance His Lordship at my conversion, but the process of sanctification to realize His Lordship over me has been on going all these years.

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So, I understand that it is not possible to have saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation and yet show no evidence of sanctification and abandonment of sin in one’s life. The Scripture speaks clearly of the need for and expectation that christians will forsake sin and seek to live holy pleasing lives before the Lord Jesus Christ. For the person who has placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation, conscious denial of His Lordship over all aspects of their life is a grevious sin and perilous state to be in before God. As His child, He will not allow us to harbor sin – either secret or public – without His initiation of a process of sanctifying purification. Brethren, we do not want this to occur to us! If there is sin in our lives, let us repent of it and seek God’s forgiveness – and forsake such sin with the Lord’s enablement (1 Corinthians 10:13).

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Following are some scriptures that may be of help to you in understanding the issue and in helping each of us to live in a more pleasing, less sinful manner before God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Walk-Live by the Spirit’s Enablement in a Manner that is pleasing to God

Galations 5:16-26 “(16) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (17) For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (19) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, (20) idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, (21) envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (24) Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (25) If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (26) Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”

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Repentance and Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in Salvation

Acts 20:21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Romans 13:14 “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”

Phillipians 3:7-9 “(7) But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. (8) More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, (9) and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,”

Colossians 2:5-7 “(5) For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ. (6) Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, (7) 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 Thessalonians 5:22-24 “(22) abstain from every form of evil. (23) Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (24) Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”

2 Peter 2:20For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.”

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The Call to Holy Living by Jesus Christ to Those Who Would Follow Him

(At issue, is this only for disciples, or for every Christian. Brethren, how can it not be the call for every Christian to follow Christ in this manner?)

Luke 9:23-28 “(23) And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. (24) For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. (25) For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? (26) For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Luke 17:33 “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”

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MacArthur’s Website (www.gty.org) has a number of references to this issue of Lordship Salvation that can be found via their website search function. My hope is that you will rely on God’s grace in your life with the Lord Jesus Christ, seeking to please Him in all respects.

Churchlayman

Colby in Western Kansas

 





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.”)