“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  They have been superseded by a new and gracious rule of conduct which includes in itself all that is vital in the law, but restates it under the peculiar order and character of grace.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





Jesus’ Sacrifice and the Demands of Our Discipleship (Luke 9:18-26)

4 05 2008

Following is a passage from the gospel of Luke.  In it Jesus Christ is discussing the path of sacrifice that His ministry would soon take, i.e., how He would accomplish the substitutionary atonement for the sin of His chosen people, His elect, through the Cross (see verse 22).  Then after telling them of the sacrifice that would be required of Himself, He told them of the high commitment that would be required of them as His disciples (verse 23-26). 

As Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again to accomplish our salvation (our redemption from sin before a holy and just God), so we are called to live for Jesus in acknowledgement of what He accomplished for us.  At this stage in my life (54 years old this year), the issue before me is how to more completely love, honor and obey in all aspects of my life.  Before God I realize the need for a deeper, more complete surrender of my self, will, priorities, time and physical resources to His Lordship.  Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  May I live unto Him in a God-honoring manner!

Luke 9:18-26 (NASB)

(All underlinining, highlighting, etc. of added by my self to emphasize particular points in the text)

(18) And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?”

(19) They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.”

(20) And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”

(21) But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone,

(22) saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.

(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.





Saved in Christ to Deny Sin and Live Sanctified, Godly Lives

1 03 2008

In his book Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois – 1993), J. I. Packer discusses how Jesus rescues His people from sin through salvation (pages 146-148).

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“What are believers saved from?”

“From their former position under the wrath of God, the dominion of sin, and the power of death (Romans 1:18; 3:9; 5:21);”

  • (Saved from the wrath of God): Romans 1:18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,”
  • (Saved from the dominion of sin): Romans 3:9 “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;”
  • (Saved from the power of death): Romans 5:21 “so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

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“…from their natural condition of being mastered by the world, the flesh, and the devil (John 8:23-24; Romans 8:7-8; 1 John 5:19);”

  • (Saved from being mastered by the world): John 8:23-24And He was saying to them, ‘You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.‘ “
  • (Saved from being mastered by the flesh): Romans 8:7-8because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
  • (Saved from being mastered by the devil): 1 John 5:19 “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

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“…from the fears that a sinful live engenders (Romans 8:15; 2 Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 2:14-15);”

  • (Saved to have a spirit of adoption as sons of God): Romans 8:15 “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
  • (Saved to have a spirit of God’s power, love and discipline): 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”
  • (Saved from fear of death): Hebrews 2:14-15 “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”

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“…and from the many vicious habits that were part of it (i.e., our unregenerate, sinful lives) (Ephesians 4:17-24; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; Titus 2:11-3:6)”

  • (Saved from the old self of sin to put on the new self in Christ): Ephesians 4:17-24So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But 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.”
  • (Saved from sexual impurity unto Godly sanctification): 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.”
  • (Saved to deny worldly ungodliness and to live righteous, Godly lives): Titus 2:11-15 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority Let no one disregard you.”
  • (Saved to live obedient, God-honoring lives before all mankind): Titus 3:1-6 “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,”

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It is very challenging to deny sin and sinful practices in our lives and to live in a sanctified, God-honoring manner. I thank God for His grace towards me in Christ Jesus. In Christ, through the indwelling Holy Spirit we believers can both find God’s provided power to resist sin and live pleasing lives unto God, and to find forgiveness for sin when we fall short in our striving against the world, my flesh, and the devil.

God, please help me to recognize the heinousness and evil of sin in a manner such as You do, and the necessity of the atoning of sacrifice of Jesus Christ to pay the just penalty for my and all such sin. God, help me to zealously seek to walk closely with You every day. Lord, I earnestly desire closer fellowship with You, and that I not be controlled by sin for the remaining days of my life. You are my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Amen





The Sovereign, Eternal and Free Nature of God’s Grace

9 02 2008

In this post you will find a continuation of the discussion of God’s sovereign grace in regards to the salvation of mankind. With so much teaching these days following the lines of “free will” Arminianism, this decidedly Calvinistic stance in regards to the “doctrines of grace” will run counter to the understanding of many people regarding election, predestination, God’s sovereignty, etc.

But my goal here is not to be strident or extreme in presenting these views concerning the working of God’s grace. Indeed, it is more important for someone such as myself to actually “live in a manner that pleases the Lord”, “carrying every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”, “putting to death the deeds of the flesh”, than to obstinantly demand complete and full acceptance by others of these Calvinistic doctrines of grace.

However, I would also say that what a person believes regarding their biblical theology in general, and about the doctrines pertaining to the grace of God in particular, are the very foundations of our views and faith toward God, of how our lives are to be lived before Him, and of how He and we view other people (both the saved in Jesus Christ and the unsaved). It is of no small importance that we correctly understand what God has revealed to us in this written Word in regards to who He is and what He does and how we should respond to Him. Forever, forever, and forever we need to resist the continually creeping disease of the effect of man-centered humanism upon our view of God and His dealings with us. “To God be the glory!” is not meant to only be an idle, emotional exhortation among us Christ-believing church-goers. It is a call to all of us as Christians to have an accurate understanding of God, and in the living of our very lives to acknowledge God and bring honor to Him.

My personal conviction is that having a grace-oriented view of God and His workings in bringing about our salvation brings honor to Him. Conversely, man-centered viewpoints of how our salvation comes about (i.e., Arminianism, works salvation, new-age teaching, etc.) ultimately seek to allow mankind to gain some credit in the endeavor (credit that should all belong to God alone).

So, I encourage you to read through these passages, and to pray about and think upon the sovereign role of God in the effectual carrying out of our salvation in Christ Jesus.

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In A.W. Pink’s book “The Attributes of God” (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan – 2001) (click here), the author discusses the Grace of God (Chapter 13, pages 66-71). This post continues to draw upon Pink’s explanation of the grace of God…

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A. God’s Grace is Eternal, Free, and Sovereign

B. God Sovereignly Exercises His Unmerited Favor (Grace) Toward Sinful Man

C. Eternal Life is a Gift from God

D. Natural Man’s Resistance Toward Acceptance of God’s Sovereign Grace

D. God’s Distinguishing Choice of His Elect Children

Ephesians 5:1-21 (Be Imitators of God)

(1) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; (2) and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

(3) But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; (4) and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. (5) For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (6) Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (7) Therefore do not be partakers with them; (8) for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (9) (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), (10) trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. (11) Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; (12) for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. (13) But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. (14) For this reason it says,

“Awake, sleeper,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”

(15) Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, (16) making the most of your time, because the days are evil. (17) So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (18) And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, (19) speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; (20) always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; (21) and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

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Coming posts will continue to focus on the doctrines of God’s grace. Lets examine them together.

Churchlayman





God’s Grace: Undeserved on Our Part

1 02 2008

In A.W. Pink’s book “The Attributes of God” (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan – 2001) (click here), the author discusses the Grace of God (Chapter 13, pages 66-71). Pink presents a view of the grace of God that is straight forward and clear in its support of Calvinistic, Divine sovereignty-centered theology.

We can trust God to work out all of these issues regarding election, predestination, grace and the salvation of the elect according to His Divine wisdom. Where else and in who else can we trust to fairly and justly handle such issues?

Following are some quotations from Pink in regards to the grace of God…..

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Grace is a perfection of the Divine character which is exercised only toward the elect. Neither in the Old Testament nor in the New is the grace of God ever mentioned in connection with mankind generally, still less with the lower orders of His creatures. In this it is distinguished from mercy, for the mercy of God is “over all His works(Psalm 145:9). Grace is the sole source from which flows the goodwill, love, and salvation of God unto His chosen people.”

Romans 4:1-8

(1) What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?(2) For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

(3) For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

(4) Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.

(5) But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,

(6) just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

(7) “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.

(8) “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”

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Ephesians 2:1-10

(1) And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,

(2) in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

(3) Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

(4) But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,

(5) even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

(6) and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

(7) so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

(8) For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

(9) not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

(10) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

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This is the first of a number of posts that will focus on God’s grace. In the short time we each spend on this side of eternity, the topic of God’s grace is certainly worth our focus and attention. It will lead us to more fully appreciate and worship the Lord.

Churchlayman





God’s Patience Towards Sinful Mankind

30 12 2007

I personally am extremely thankful for both God’s grace and His patience in dealing with me. As a formerly lost sinner now saved by the grace of God, I am acutely aware of how the Divine justice of God has been dealt with on my behalf – through the propitiatory, penalty of sin-satisfying blood of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.

God has been patient and gracious toward me in the past, and He continues to be so with me up to this day. And God is patient toward this sinful world that is so deserving of judgment for sinful rebellion against God and corruption of God’s holy purpose. His patience as part of His divine decree must be staying His hand of judgment at this time.

But when the time of God’s judgment upon the sin of this world eventually comes in the fulfillment of God’s eternal, righteous, sovereign decree, it will be fearful to see the outpouring of the pent-up wrath of God upon this world! Praise God for His grace towards His people, and for His patience at this time toward the world – but for His grace we ALL would be consumed!

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Romans 9:22-24

(22) What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? (23) And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, (24) even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

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A.W. Pink in his book The Attributes of God (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan – 2001) discusses the Patience of God (pages 61-65) (click here). Following are some excerpts with supporting Scripture regarding the great patience of God toward the sin of mankind in general and toward someone like me in particular.

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A. How God’s Patience Differs from His Mercy

“It is a part of the Divine goodness and mercy, yet differs from both. God being the greatest goodness, hath the greatest mildness; mildness is always the companion of true goodness, and the greater the goodness, the greater the mildness. Who so holy as Christ, and who so meek? God’s slowness to anger is a branch of His mercy: “the Lord is full of compassion, slow to anger” (Psalms 145:8). It differs from mercy in the formal consideration of the subject: mercy respects the creature as miserable, patience respects the creature as criminal; mercy pities him in his misery, patience bears with the sin which engendered the misery, and giving birth to more.”

“Men that are great in the world are quick in passion, and are not so ready to forgive an injury, or bear with an offender, as one of a meaner rank. It is a want of power over that man’s self that makes him do unbecoming things upon a provocation. A prince that can bridle his passions is a king over himself as well as over his subjects. God is slow to anger because (He is) great in power. He has no less power over Himself than over His creatures.”

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Some supporting scripture….

Nehemiah 9:16-17

(16) But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly; They became stubborn and would not listen to Your commandments.

(17) They refused to listen, And did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But You are a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; And You did not forsake them.

Psalm 103:8-11

(8) The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

(9) He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.

(10) He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

(11) For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

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B. God’s Patient Forebearance of Sin’s Just Punishment

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C. God’s Patience Toward this Sinful World and the Modern Church

D. God’s Patience Towards Us (and our need to be so to others)





God’s Love for His Elect and His Goodness toward All Mankind

15 12 2007

A question: How broadly does God’s love extend to mankind, and what is the breadth of His goodness towards all?

  • Again: Does God love everyone, both His elect and those that are not His elect?
  • So, if He does not love those people that are not His elect, then how do we understand His purposes in providing good things, good provisions for life for all people?
  • Is the breadth of God’s love and of God’s goodwill or His goodness the same in regards to mankind? How do we reconcile the intersection of God’s love for His Children and God’s goodwill toward all of mankind?

These big questions, these big topics of Christian doctrine have lead many people of faith to have strong differences of opinion. In pursuit of the answers to these questions a person eventually finds themselves seeking to understand the extent of the atoning work of Christ on the cross. These can be complex issues to understand, but it seems good to hold to the following Biblical principles…..

God loves His elect. Yet He is good to all in His provisions. He is carrying out His sovereign plan – His eternal decree.

God indeed is love, and God indeed is good. Amen!

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A. God’s Love for His Elect

1 John 4:8-10

(8) “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (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.”

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In his book Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois – 1993), J. I. Packer discusses the Goodness of God (pages 45-47)…

“When John says “God is love” (1 John 4:8), what he means … is that the Father through Christ has actually saved us formerly lost sinners who now believe. “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God” — we didn’t — “but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).”

“As always in the New Testament, “us” as the objects and beneficiaries of redeeming love means “us who believe.” Neither here nor elsewhere does “we” or “us” refer to every individual belonging to the human race. New Testament teaching on redemption is particularistic throughout, and when “the world” is said to be loved and redeemed (John 3:16-17, 2 Corinthians 5:19, 1 John 2:2), the reference is to the great number of God’s elect scattered worldwide throughout the ungodly human community (cf. John 10:16; John 11:52-53), not to each and every person who did, does, or shall exist. If this were not so, John and Paul would be contradicting things that they say elsewhere.”

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John 3:16-17

(16) “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (17) For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

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2 Corinthians 5:18-21

(18) Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, (19) namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. (20) Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (21) He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

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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.”

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B. God’s Goodness Toward All Mankind

J. I. Packer goes on to say….

“This sovereign redemptive love is one facet of the quality that Scripture calls God’s goodness (Psalms 100:5; Mark 10:18), that is, the glorious kindness and generosity that touches all his creatures (Psalms 145:9, 15-16) and that ought to lead all sinners to repentance (Romans 2:4). Other aspects of this goodness are the mercy or compassion or pity that shows kindness to persons in distress by rescuing them out of trouble (Psalm 107; Psalm 136) and the long-suffering, forbearance, and slowness to anger that continues to show kindness toward persons who have persisted in sinning (Exodus 34:6; Psalms 78:38; John 3:10-4:11; Romans 9:22; 2 Peter 3:9). The supreme expression of God’s goodness is still, however, the amazing grace and inexpressible love that shows kindness by saving sinners who deserve only condemnation: saving them, moreover, at the tremendous cost of Christ’s death on Calvary (Romans 3:22-24; 5:5-8; 8:32-39; Ephesians 2:1-10; 3:14-18; 5:25-27).”

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Psalm 100:5

(5) For the LORD is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.

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Psalm 145:9-16

(9) The LORD is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works.
(10) All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD,
And Your godly ones shall bless You.
(11) They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom
And talk of Your power;
(12) To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts
And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom.
(13) Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
(14) The LORD sustains all who fall
And raises up all who are bowed down.
(15) The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time
.
(16) You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing
.

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Romans 9:22-23

(22) “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? (23) And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, (24) even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.”

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2 Peter 3:3-10

(3) “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, (4) and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” (5) For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, (6) through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. (7) But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. (8) But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.”

(9)”The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (10) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”

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C. God’s Faithful Goodness to Us Inspite of Our Sin and Failures

Packer goes on further to state……

“God’s faithfulness to his purposes, promises, and people is a further aspect of his goodness and praiseworthiness. Humans lie and break their word; God does neither. In the worst of times it can still be said: “His compassions never fail. …. Great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-24; Psalms 36:5; cf. Psalm 89, especially verses 1-2, 14, 24, 33, 37, 49). Though God’s ways of expressing his faithfulness are sometimes unexpected and bewildering, looking indeed to the casual observer like unfaithfulness, the final testimony of those who walk with God through life’s ups and downs is that “every promise has been fulfilled; not one of them has failed” (Joshua 23:14-15). God’s fidelity, along with the other aspects of his gracious goodness as set forth in his Word, is always solid ground on with to rest our faith and hope.”

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Joshua 23:14-15

(14) “Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed. (15) It shall come about that just as all the good words which the LORD your God spoke to you have come upon you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the threats, until He has destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God has given you.”

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