The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Posts Tagged ‘fruit’

What Spirit is Working in You?

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 27, 2011

And you [saints] hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;  wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. (Eph. 2:1-2)

I’d like to draw your attention to the last phrase, “the prince of the power of the air [satan], the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”  The saints to whom Paul was writing had walked according to the course of this world only in time past.  Since then they had died with Christ, and been raised to a new holy life. Their conduct was no longer disobedient toward God, for those who are disobedient now are still being controlled by satan.

Many profess to be children of God and filled with the Spirit of God. However, the tree is known by the fruit it produces (Luke 6:44).

The Spirit of God is the HOLY Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to and finds rest in only those who obey God (Acts 5:32).  If a man is filled with the Holy Spirit, his works will be holy, for the Spirit working in him will produce fruit after His own kind (holiness). The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love (obedience to God’s commands–Jn. 14:23), joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance [self-control] (Gal 5:22-23).

If the fruit being produced in a man is fleshly and disobedient to God, the spirit at work in that man is the devil. He can say he believes in Jesus all he wants; even the devil himself believes in Jesus. Not only that, but the devil trembles, knowing that Jesus will soon crush him beneath the feet of the saints (Jam. 2:19; Rom. 16:20).  What the devil will not do is obey Jesus. And those who are taken captive by satan to do his will also live in disobedience (2 Tim. 2:26). As their father does, so do they.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. (John 8:44a)

Those who are doing “the lusts of your father [the devil]” are yet children of the devil.

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (I John 3:10)

Are you DOING righteousness? Not merely acknowledging that Christ was righteous, but doing likewise–living as He lived? Have you crucified your flesh with its affections and lusts?–If not, you are not yet Christ’s (Gal. 5:24). If you are still walking after the flesh, be assured that you will die (forfeit eternal life; Rom. 8:13). Let no one deceive you that you can walk after your flesh and yet possess eternal life.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  (Gal. 5:19-21)

Those who DO such things shall NOT INHERIT the kingdom of God. For King Jesus Himself will send His angels to remove from His kingdom all things that cause sin and those who DO sin and cast them into the furnace of fire (Matt. 13:41-42). It makes no difference what you believe in your mind and profess with your mouth, if your works continue to be unrighteous.  For many will say “Lord, Lord” on judgment day, and the Lord will turn them away forever because they did not put His words into practice in their everyday lives (Matt. 7).

So I ask you, dear reader, what spirit is working in you? Is it the Holy Spirit of God, working what is righteous and obedient to the Lord? Or is it the spirit of the devil, working what is disobedient?

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;  neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  Be not ye therefore partakers with them.  (Eph. 5:3-7)

“Let it not once be named among you,” for the children of disobedience have only wrath to look forward to! Those who live and preach that we can only be disobedient for the rest of our lives have missed the whole purpose of the gospel of grace; they do not understand that Jesus has come to redeem us from all sin and purify for Himself a peculiar people who no longer walk in disobedience, but are zealous for doing what is good (Titus 2:11-14).

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence [lust], and covetousness, which is idolatry:  for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience. (Col. 3:5-6)

Again, the children of disobedience will have wrath!  If this describes you, your only hope is to repent of doing evil, and turn to the Lord in obedience, trusting in His sacrifice to atone for your past rebellion.  Do not receive the grace of God in vain; do not do injury to the Spirit of grace by continuing in willful disobedience after coming to know the truth, lest you be considered worthy of greater punishment than those who despised Moses’ law and died without mercy (Heb. 10:26-29).

You must let the devil do his works in you no longer, giving him no place (Eph. 4:27).  Submit yourself to God (letting Him reign and rule in your life); resist the devil, and he will flee from you (Jam. 4:7).  The Son of God to Whom you submit was manifested to destroy the works of the devil (I Jn. 3:8). In becoming Christ’s servant and the servant of righteousness, you will no longer be the servant of sin or the devil. In submitting to His yoke (both His control and His divine assistance), you will find rest for your soul at last.  Follow the Lamb of God–Jesus–who only did what pleased the Father (Jn. 8:29).  As He lived, so you are called to live in this world (I Jn. 4:17).  If you do this, you will have confidence before Him at His coming because you have been abiding in Him (I John 2:28) and His Spirit has been living in you (I Jn. 3:24).

May God bless you and dwell in you by His Spirit!

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Feeding on Foolishness

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 18, 2011

The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness. Prov. 15:14

It causes me great sorrow to see many young people, who claim to love God, feeding on foolishness. They watch movies that “aren’t so bad.” They listen to music that isn’t openly opposed to Christ; it just doesn’t lead the heart’s affections in His direction. They follow the exploits of athletes as if it all means something, memorizing stats instead of the Scriptures which are able to make men wise unto salvation. They play video games, sometimes vicariously living through fake people while their spiritual house falls into disrepair. Oh, the daring exploits they accomplish in their video games–while in reality, they do nothing at all for either Christ or neighbor!

We are what we eat. All of this feeding on foolishness makes one a fool, and gives one the mouth of a fool that can help no one.  But you have not so learned Christ!

Is there even one account of Jesus behaving in a flippant, self-entertaining way in any of the gospels? Never. He was always working, just as His Father was always working (John 5:17). Jesus was ministry-minded, not entertainment minded.  He knew and purposely kept before His face the reason He came–to set captives free. What does this mean to you–My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me?

I charge you, dear reader, to steward your time here on earth as one who will give an account.  The question is not, “Can I get away with this activity?” but “Will this activity increase the knowledge of God in me and on the earth?”

Now, I don’t believe for a moment that Jesus never smiled. But joy has little or nothing to do with entertainments; entertainments are inherently selfish and produce no true joy in the soul. If you want to be anointed with gladness above all your fellows, you must love righteousness and hate iniquity as Jesus did (Heb. 1:9).  Squandering the new life and resources God has given you is ungratefulness and sin; you must hate it enough to turn away from it.  True joy is found co-laboring with Jesus in the great work of salvation while we can, for the night is coming when no man can work (Jn. 9:4).

How can you say you love God with all your heart, when you spend so many hours pursuing vain things that God is far from?–If this describes you, your profession of love is vain. You feed on things that produce no life in you; you have allowed your appetite for truth to dwindle to the point that no fruit is being produced in your life–for unless you abide in the Vine, you cannot produce fruit. You are lukewarm in your affections for Jesus, and are in the gravest of dangers. Seeking out His Wisdom and/or serving somewhere in the Body of Christ is not as important as beating another level in a fake video game world! While you win virtual battles on a screen, the real spiritual battle rages all around you, but your ears grow dull to its sound, and your mind uncomprehending of its strategies. Your sword grows dull from disuse, and you don’t even know that you are losing your spiritual life and becoming useless to God and others. What a tragedy!

The heart of him that has understanding seeks KNOWLEDGE, and refuses to feed on foolishness.  You must choose between life and death.  With the banquet of good things the Lord willingly spreads before us, with all the wisdom that is to be found in Him, with all the souls on their way to perdition, with the rumblings of divine judgment even now on the horizon, with so few laborers in God’s harvest fields, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation and rush headlong after foolish things?  Had Noah stopped working on the ark to do something “fun” with his neighbors, he would not have been mocked for preaching righteousness, and he would not have had the ark ready at the appointed time.

Young person, rather than feeding on the foolishness that brings spiritual death to you and everyone around you, why not study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, (2 Tim. 2:15) so that you can break true bread for hungry souls? Why not seek for the wisdom of God like treasure, so that you have a storehouse for you and others to draw from in times of trouble?  Why not find something profitable to do for the kingdom of God?

God bless you.

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The Field is the World

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 15, 2011

When discussing the rampant sin in the professing church, how often have you heard, “The church is full of wheat and tares. We can’t tell the difference between the two, so we just have to wait until the end and let God remove the tares.”

I submit to you that this is a wrong interpretation of the passage in question, Matt. 13:24-30. Let us examine it.

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:  but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.   But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.   So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?   He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?  But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.   Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

Notice that when tares appeared, the servants of the householder immediately recognized them as tares rather than wheat.  Servants of God can recognize the children of the devil and the children of God. “For every tree is known by his own fruit.” (Lk. 6:44)

Later in the chapter, when the disciples asked Jesus to help them understand this parable, Jesus declared the following:

He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;  the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;  the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.   As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;   and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.   Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (vss. 37-43)

The field is not the church. I repeat, THE FIELD IS NOT THE CHURCH!  The place where wheat and tares must be allowed to co-mingle until the end is THE WORLD.  In the world, there will always be wicked people and righteous people. If the righteous were to go about “gathering up” the tares (killing them!) before the appointed time, it would bring hurt to the wheat. Instead, the righteous must wait patiently for the angels to gather “all things that offend, and them which do iniquity” and cast them into the furnace of fire.  Vengeance is the Lord’s, and He will repay. Untold harm has come to the testimony of the church when “holy wars” have been carried out in the name of Christ. These are the premature “gathering of tares” to which Christ was referring. While the door of salvation stands open, it is still possible for the children of the devil to repent and believe, and become children of God. In the meantime, the servants of God must be content to allow the wheat and tares to grow up together in THE WORLD (not the church!)

Now it is true that wicked men have crept into the church unawares, perverting the doctrines of God (Jude 4), but that is another subject.  The subject at hand is whether or not the righteous (wheat) and the wicked (tares) are permitted to grow up and produce fruit together in the church.

The belief that the the field of wheat and tares is the church, rather than the world as Christ taught, has caused leaven to spread unchecked in the church. This parable has been wrongfully used to ignore the Apostle Paul’s admonitions in I Cor. 5 to:

MOURN over sin in the church (vs 2),

JUDGE the deeds of wicked men in the church (vs 3, 12),

DELIVER sinners to satan for the destruction of the flesh (vs 5),

PURGE the leaven of sin out of the church (vs 7),

STOP having fellowship with wicked people who profess to be Christians (vss 9-11), and

PUT such people “away from among yourselves” (vs 13).

If we are to do all these things, is it not obvious that we must first judge the tree by its own fruit?–that we must discern whose works are inspired by the devil?

Paul asks in I Cor. 6:3-5,

Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?  If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.  I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

Paul is reproving the church for failing to judge appropriately! Is there no one in the church who is wise enough to judge between what is good and evil? How can this be, among the very people who will judge angels?

Again, in Eph. 5:3-7, Paul writes:

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;  neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.  For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.   Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.   Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

We, the saints, are not to allow wicked people to remain “among us” in the church, turning a blind eye to their wicked works, saying “God will deal with the tares in His own time.” We are to purposefully refuse to be partakers in other men’s sins, and to keep ourselves pure (I Tim. 5:22). This means there must be church discipline. The sinner must be confronted in love, and commanded to repent. If he does not repent, we must separate from his company. There is not to be a mixing of holy and profane in the house of God, but a distinct difference between the two. It is this very mixing of holy and profane that has caused untold reproaches to fall unjustly on the name of Christ!

When sin is rampant in the church, and you hear the tired excuse, “God will deal with the tares in His own time,” and “it isn’t for me to judge,” remember that Jesus said THE FIELD IS THE WORLD.  Stand against the false teaching that the field is the church. The Bride of Christ that Jesus will come for is a pure Bride that lives in daily communion with Him, hearing His voice and following Him, and having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness that the children of the devil continue to produce.  Obey the Holy Ghost-inspired words of Paul–“Put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”

God bless you!

 

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A Space to Repent

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 12, 2011

Right after delivering the powerful directive, “Unless you repent, you will perish,” Jesus told an important parable:

A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?  And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. (Luke 13:6-9)

The Lord wants fruit. In the parable of the four soils, He taught that there are four types of people to whom the Word of God comes, and only one of those four soils produces fruit “with patience.” (Luke 8:5-15) Of the three nonproductive soils, one has the Seed/Word of God stolen by satan before it can even germinate, one receives the Word with joy and believes for a while but in time of testing falls away, and one “brings no fruit to perfection,” being choked with “cares and riches, and pleasures of this life.”  It is very important that we examine ourselves to see if we are now in the faith–or if the soil of our heart is currently producing “fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Rom. 6:22)

It is not enough to have had a moment of faith sometime in the past–to have received the Word with joy, to have believed for a while, or to have produced immature fruit which has never been brought to perfection. In John 15, Jesus taught that we must abide (remain) in Him in order to continue to produce fruit. Attached to this command is a warning: all branches that stop abiding in the Vine will become fruitless and wither away. What will be their end?–being cast into the fire!

Returning to the parable in Luke 13, I notice that for three years the owner of the vineyard sought fruit on a certain fig tree. Finding none, he opted to cut it down, lest it overwork the ground for nothing. But the dresser of the vineyard pleaded for one more year, in which he would do everything in his power to make this tree fruitful–loosening the soil around the tree, fertilizing it, etc. This tree had one last chance to produce fruit or be cut down; this tree had “a space to repent.”

The false prophetess in the church of Thyatira had a space to repent, but she had not repented, and she would be judged. She had been teaching believers they could fornicate and partake of the table of demons as well as the table of God (Rev. 2:18-23). These same false teachings are abundant in our churches today, and many have been deceived by them, “having itching ears” that desire to live in sin while professing to know God–they profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.(Titus 1:16)

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Tim. 2:19)

There is a space to repent of these wicked works and wicked teachings–only a space, and a space has an end. There is a day in which we must “seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” (Isa. 55:6) In Noah’s day, there was a space to repent that lasted 120 years, while Noah preached righteousness and worked out his own salvation with fear and trembling, obeying God’s instructions carefully. Jesus taught that the end will come “as in the days of Noah”–while people are at ease, not considering the end of their careless rebellion against God, judgment will come upon them suddenly, and they will find to their horror that the door of salvation has been closed to them.

With Paul, I beseech you, that you receive not the grace of God in vain. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, even as others have done to their own destruction. (2 Cor. 6:2; Heb. 3:15) To hear His voice when you know you have been lukewarm and fruitless, is to receive a merciful space to repent. Remember the lesson in I Cor. 10:1-12–many came out of Egypt, were baptized in the sea, and drank of Christ, only to be overthrown in the wilderness because they did not hold fast to the truth and continue to produce the good fruit of holiness to the Lord.

John the Baptist spoke to the Pharisees, “Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Matt. 3:9) I say to my readers, “Think not to say within yourselves, I have had a good beginning and have served in the church, and I don’t need to repent of my lukewarm and divided heart or my friendship with the world–for I say unto you that Christ will spew out the lukewarm and cut down the fruitless!”

While your space to repent remains, draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded.Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (James 4:8-10)

Begin today to bring forth the fruits consistent with repentance! “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Matt. 3:10) The axe is laid, even now, dear reader!

May God bless you.

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Guarding the Fruit (Lessons From the Garden Part 2)

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 10, 2011

In my last post, I described a garden that had a rough beginning, but was really looking beautiful. The lesson I learned was that we must not grow weary in well doing, for we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.

If I thought that was the end of the story, and I could now sit back and wait for the fruit to drop into my hands, I was wrong. My first culprit seemed to be plant shock, and perhaps fungus. Now that those are under control, my garden has a more insistent predator. In one week’s time, a rabbit has finished off an entire row of lettuce plants, and most of a row of bean plants. Not only that, he destroyed all the marigolds I planted all around the garden. There are lots of leafless and flowerless stems left, looking stark and sad against the brown mulch.  That’s alot of work and watering seemingly for nothing.

I confess I am discouraged. But this time, I know that self-pity is a waste of time, and is a robber of the good fruit that follows patient endurance.

Obviously, sin has ravaged our earth, and producing fruit here is not going to be an easy task, whether we are referring to physical fruit or the more important spiritual fruit. It is going to take more work than we understood when we came to Jesus on that happy day that He washed our sins away and made us “the planting of the Lord” (Isa 61:3). We have to fight more than drought and blight; there are predators sent by satan to make us fruitless even after we have produced life and made some progress. Satan knows that if we are fruitless, we shall be hewn down with all the fruitless trees which are cast into the fire (Matt. 3:10).

Satan is not going to rest while we casually produce fruit and effortlessly plunder his dark kingdom. That is why we must “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (I Pet. 5:8-9)  After all, God hasn’t called us to a life of ease. In fact, “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1) that stretch out upon their couches and entertain themselves while the church around them falls into ruins and disrepair. God has called us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23).

Follow Him where? Wherever He goes (Rev. 14:4).

What if He leads us into trouble and hardship? Follow Him, for “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)

What if He leads us into the valley of the shadow of death? Follow Him. We will not fear evil even there; even surrounded by enemies, He spreads a table before us.

There are many enemies, there is much work to be done, there is the hope of a harvest, but there are so few willing to labor and overcome.

Saints, all around us we see (in the Spirit) the broken walls of a destroyed city–the city of the Great King–seemingly in ruins. Apostasy is here. Because iniquity abounds, the love of many (for Jesus) has grown cold (Matt. 24:12). If these anathemas describe you, there is no time to lose–rise and shake off the dust, repent!  Fan into flame the gift that is in you before your lamp goes out and the light that is in you is only darkness!

False teachers have ravaged the sheep and fattened themselves on their flesh, and those who haven’t utterly been destroyed wander on every hill like “sheep without a shepherd,” following every wind of doctrine. It is easy to think there is nothing we can do, and this is precisely what satan wants us to think. He wants us to grow weary in well doing, so that we pine away in self-pity & the harvest never comes. Wave after wave of setbacks will come. We are called not to wilt under the pressure, but to overcome them in Jesus! You must not shrink back when everyone else says it’s hopeless, for “if thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” (Prov. 24:10) And “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” (Heb. 10:38) Have the footmen already wearied you, fainting saint? God will soon ask you to run with horses. Has the land of peace seemed  too difficult? The Jordan will soon swell (Jer. 12:5). Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power!  Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom, but you will not take the kingdom without the faith of Joshua and Caleb.

I am reminded of Nehemiah, who arose in the night and went “by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.” (Neh. 2:13)  I don’t think the word choices in this verse are by accident–“the gate of the valley”–“dragon well”–“dung port”–all seems dismal and overwhelmingly hopeless. But our God brings life out of death, starting with the passion in our hearts to make a change whatever the cost to us, however heavy the cross. Just as I must now construct a wall around my ravaged garden to keep future predators out, Nehemiah would eventually oversee the daunting task of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem in the face of tremendous opposition.

I sometimes look at Acts 2 wistfully–all seems blissful–the saints living, eating, and ministering together and enjoying peace while God added to the church daily. But we do disservice to ourselves if we forget that all of life proceeds in seasons. We must understand the times we live in and behave with the wisdom God gives. There is a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted (Eccl. 3:2). There is a time to celebrate the good harvest of the Lord, and a time to mourn for the devastation around us, seeking to repair the breaches in the house of the Lord wherever we find them–we must keep in step with the Spirit. When predators come to rob the fruit in the garden of the Lord, it is not time to go into hiding or to lounge at ease on our couches, feeding ourselves on past harvests, but to stand and fight, not “against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:12)

Beloved, fortify your life and your labor against the wiles of the devil, having your spiritual armor on at all times (Eph. 6) and determining that as long as you have breath, you will serve the Lord wherever you are, however you can. In humbled ruins, there are dormant seeds.

Scripture says “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (I Tim. 4:1-2) Many of the mighty are already fallen; many are already turned aside after satan. But do not let the ruins and devastation immobilize you; continue rather “in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth…that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Tim. 2:25-26)

Every soul recovered is another stone in the rebuilt wall, and even one soul makes a lifetime of backbreaking toil worthwhile.

As for me and my vegetable garden, it is time to dig a trench and plant a fence.

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Sovereignty and Free Will

Posted by israeliteindeed on February 1, 2010

Are Sovereignty and Free Will opposites?

Those who are trained to think of God’s sovereignty in the Calvinistic sense insist that men have no free will. To think a man can choose to repent and follow Christ negates God’s sovereignty, they think. They think if a man can choose one way or the other, then that man has control rather than God.

If God is completely all powerful (sovereign), is He not then able to apportion a measure of control to his human subjects? I say that to deny God’s right to do so is to attack the sovereignty of God; it is to say that He is not able to control a universe unless He micromanages every decision of His subjects. The truth is that God is more sovereign than Calvinists think.

There are many biblical truths illustrated in life for our learning, if we are observant and careful to compare everything to the Word of God (so that we don’t stray from it in our reasonings.)  In using parables, Jesus Himself often used natural things to teach spiritual principles.

I believe the tension between the sovereignty of God and the free will of man can be seen in two examples in nature: natural parental sovereignty, and the synergism between God and man in growing crops.

   

Natural Parental Sovereignty

Let’s say I have 10 children. I might say to my children, “I want you to get your chores done on time. Please be obedient. If you get your chores finished on time, you will have dessert. If you don’t get them done on time, you will be denied any dessert at all.”I am completely in control of whether they get dessert or not. If I decide to give them ice cream, they will enjoy some ice cream–and if I decide they get no dessert, there is nothing they can do about it. Since I have all the power on my side (sovereignty), I could even go back on my word and deny them dessert even after they finish their chores in time–but for the sake of argument, in our example I am a loving and just parent/ruler (as God also is), and I will always keep my word.

As a good parent, I have a high purpose in teaching them to do what is right with diligence–my rules are not arbitrary. They may not understand the importance of finishing their chores on time; nevertheless they have a choice to make, and an obedience to fulfill. They will reap exactly what they sow, and what they sow is THEIR choice, not mine. I am not going to force them to do their chores; neither will I hinder their efforts to obey. They have freedom to choose to disobey (which is contrary to my will). But they are not free to choose to have the dessert ANYWAY if they disobey. If they disobey me, I will keep my word and allow them no dessert. That part has been “predestined,” if you will, by their parent. They are free to choose, but their free-will is limited by my sovereignty.

Suppose a child were to say, “My parents are sovereign, and it is their sovereign choice whether or not I get dessert. There is nothing I can do to change my future one way or the other. There is no point in my doing chores or anything else; everything has been decided for me.”  Or suppose a child were to examine the history of his siblings, and notice that a few were routinely getting dessert, while others were routinely denied dessert. Should he then decide that his parents have predestined some for dessert and others to go without dessert completely apart from anything they might do? Hopefully you see the folly of such thinking. Yet this is exactly what the Calvinist view of God’s sovereignty declares about God’s relationship with men, and using this distorted view of sovereignty, many attempt to shirk the responsibilities God has given to men.

   

Application

God has made His will known–it is His will that all men repent of their sins and come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ. He desires men to love Him with all their hearts, and to love their neighbors as themselves (doing no evil to any man.) He has said that all men will be judged by their works (Matt. 16:27; Rev. 2:23; Rev. 20: 12-13), and will reap either death or everlasting life depending on what they “sow” in this life (Gal. 6:7-8).  We are free to choose whether we will sow to please our flesh or the Spirit of God (free will), but we are not free to choose a reward that is contrary to what we have sown–God  in His sovereignty will make absolutely sure that we reap according to how we have sown–He will not be mocked. We will get our just desserts.

 

Growing Crops

If a man plows his land, sows wheat, and is diligent to care for his fields; then provided no catastrophe happens, he will reap wheat. If he sows corn, he will reap corn. If he is lazy and sows nothing, he will reap nothing but weeds and thistles. God has given knowledge to man, and man knows how to grow food through hard work. But God does not force men to plow and sow, nor does He choose for man what type of seed should be sown.  God allows him to sow anything he wants, or to sow nothing at all in his garden. God allows him to give half-hearted attention, full devotion, or total negligence to his fields. That is free will

Nevertheless, God is the one who put life inside a seed. God is the one who sends rain, and the one who either sends or withholds bad weather. What happens beneath the soil is a wonderful miracle, and no farmer–no matter how brilliant or diligent–has control over what takes place there. No farmer can reap anything in a field God devastates by floods or other natural disasters. No farmer can grow anything apart from God, because God is in the process from beginning to end–He is the Author and Finisher. That is sovereignty.  

Now suppose a farmer were to say, “God is sovereign. It’s all up to God, so I will just sit here and watch good fruit appear in my garden all by itself.” We know that this would not happen–this foolish man would starve to death with his family! God has taught men to sow and expects them to do their part. “Doing their part” to cultivate the soil and plant good seed in no way steals glory from God; rather it honors God by properly stewarding the gifts God has given to men.  This is called synergism.    

 

Application:

In salvation, repentance is the plowing of the soil. Even good seed simply won’t grow in rocky, hard soil. Jesus said unless you repent you will perish (no repentance, no life). God does not command what a man has no power to do (that would make Him unjust.)

Faith in Jesus Christ is the receiving of the Good Seed (Jesus, the Word) into the soil.  Endurance or perseverance must happen next, as Jesus taught you must not only hear the Word, but keep it and “bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15)  

While God is both the Author and Finisher of Salvation/Eternal life (as He also is the creator of the life in the seed, and the one who controls the weather in our former example), He still commands our participation in the salvation He offers. He allows us to CHOOSE whether we will:  

-Repent (plow),
-Believe (receive the Seed), and 
-Endure (bring forth fruit with patience).  

We are told that we have a choice to sow to please the Spirit or sow to please the flesh (Gal. 6:7-9). Please note in this verse that the CONSEQUENCES of this sowing are out of our control, though the sowing itself is in our control. We will reap “destruction” or “life everlasting” depending on what we CHOOSE to sow. (Everlasting life is at stake here, friends, not just heavenly rewards.) We can choose to sow to our flesh, but we are not free to still reap everlasting life if we do so. “Be not deceived . God is not mocked. WHATEVER a man sows [by his own choice] that shall he also reap.”  

“Whatever a man sows…” denotes free will choice.
“That shall he also reap.” denotes God’s sovereign and predetermined decision to give to every man according to his works (Matt. 16:27; Rev. 2:23; Rev. 20: 12-13.)

God bless you!

  

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