The Grace of God

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

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Those Who Are Called

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 4, 2014

For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (I Cor. 2:22-25)


Who are “those who are called”?

Does God only call a select few from among the Jews and Gentiles, and enable only them to answer the call? Does God then cause those select few whom He called to inherit eternal life? If you only read the following passage, you might think so:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Rom. 8:28-30)

Paul is referring to those who presently “love God.” “Those who are called” = “those who love God.” Those who love God are “the called according to His purpose,” because they are submitted to His purposes rather than their own. And these, Paul says, were “foreknown” by God, predestined to look like Jesus, called to follow Jesus, justified and glorified. Paul speaks of these things as having already been done in the past, but this does not mean that a calling guarantees the final glorification. We need to carefully weigh this passage with other passages before concluding that God only calls certain people, or that one who is called always inherits eternal life.

Remember, Peter acknowledged that some of Paul’s writings were “hard to understand,” and “untaught and unstable people” were twisting his writings to their own destruction. Then Peter warns, “THEREFORE…beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.” (2 Pet. 3:15-17) So let us have a look at other Scriptures that speak of our being called.

The call can be ignored with terrible consequences.

Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes (Prov. 1:24-26)

This call of God to hear His wisdom and submit to it has gone out since the beginning to all simple ones, scorners and fools (1:20-22). This is a call to forsake our own wisdom and cleave to God’s Wisdom (Christ.) But many refuse to take God’s hand, disdain His counsel, and reject His rebuke. He called, but they refused. It is only those who turn at God’s rebuke who come to know His words (1:23). Many in Jesus’ day had already been ignoring God’s call; thus their hearts were ill-prepared to see the salvation of God (Psa. 50:23). They would not turn at His rebuke, so they were denied access to His Words.

The call comes through/in God’s Grace.

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace… (Gal. 1:15)

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel. (Gal. 1:6)

This is the same grace that has appeared to all men and teaches them to live soberly, righteously and godly (Titus 2:11-12). When Jesus was lifted up, He drew all men to Himself. The ultimate display of God’s love should cause us to love Him and answer His call to be like Him. But there are some who count the blood of Christ a common thing and insult the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29).

The call comes by the gospel.

to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thess. 2:14)

And to whom are we commanded to give the gospel?–to every creature from every nation (Mk. 16:15; Col. 1:23).

The call includes a command to repent (Not everyone repents).

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:38-39

Peter is teaching that everyone who is called can receive the promise if they repent! The call itself does not necessarily mean eternal life is guaranteed.

The call is a call to leave darkness and come dwell in light.

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (I Pet. 2:9)

The call is a call to follow Jesus.

Early in Jesus’ ministry, He began to call men to follow Him. We should wonder what made Him call certain people and not other people in those early days. Why did He call fishermen and a tax collector, for example, rather than esteemed leaders of the day. Wouldn’t more well-known people have had more influence? Paul explained this in I Cor. 1:26-31–

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

Notice:

1. The words “called” and “chosen” seem interchangeable in this passage. For example, “Not many wise…are called, but God has chosen the foolish.”

2. God purposely refrained from choosing that which had fleshly glory, so that no flesh could glory in His presence.

3. In so doing, He fulfilled His word in Psa. 18:27, 25:9; 147:6, 149:4; Prov. 3:34, etc., in which He promises to save and help the humble. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble!

Does this mean that someone who had an esteemed position among men could not be called, chosen, or saved?–No, for Paul was advanced in Judaism and his credentials did not keep him from being saved. Yet he had to humble himself and submit to Jesus, counting his credentials as rubbish (Phil. 3:8). Many who have the esteem of men will not risk losing it for Christ, as Paul did. Nicodemus also was a leader who was looking for truth, and Jesus responded to his search for understanding by teaching him.

The call is a call into the fellowship of Jesus.

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (I Cor. 1:9)

Is one who is called into this fellowship guaranteed to remain in this fellowship?

God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (I Jn. 1:5-7)

We must walk/remain in the light in order to remain in fellowship with Jesus.

The call to fellowship with Jesus is a call to suffer patiently.

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps I Pet. 2:21

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Phil. 3:10).

not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. I Pet. 3:9

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. I Pet. 5:10

If we aren’t willing to suffer with Him, neither will we be glorified with Him (Rom. 8:17).

The call is a call to fight a good fight.

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (I Tim. 6:12)

The call is a call to be holy, obedient saints.

Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: (Rom. 1:5-7)

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: (I Cor. 1:2)

but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. (I Pet. 1:15)

The call is answered when someone obeys it by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called… (Heb. 11:8)

The call must be followed by knowing the One who called us.

As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. (2 Pet. 1:3)

that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:10-11)

We must walk worthy of the calling! (Some do not!)

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called. (Eph. 4:1)

We do this by putting off the old man with all of its ungodly behaviors, and being taught by Christ how to live in true righteousness and holiness (same chapter, vss. 17-32).

We must be diligent to make our calling and election sure, lest we stumble!

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble. (2 Pet. 1:10)

If you do these things you will never stumble“–the things mentioned in vss. 5-7. That is, we must add to our faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. If we do not do these things, our calling and election are still unsure.

We must go past being called to being sanctified and preserved in Jesus.

Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ. (Jude 1)

Those who are not sanctified are not doing God’s will (I Thess. 4:3). Only those who do God’s will and obey Christ’s teachings shall be saved (Matt. 7:21). We are sanctified and preserved as we abide in Jesus, the Word of God. Scripture is clear that those who don’t remain abiding in Jesus will be cut off the Vine because of their fruitlessness (Jn. 15:5-6).

We must go past being called to being chosen and faithful.

For many are called, but few are chosen. Matt. 22:14

Judas was called and even given supernatural power–

And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. (Matt. 10:1)

Judas was chosen

Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (Jn. 6:70)

But Judas was not faithful

This he [Judas] said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. (Jn. 12:6)

Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ (Jn. 13:17-18)

Those with Jesus are called, chosen, and faithful:

These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Rev. 17:14)

In summary, the call of God goes out through the earth to all nations, to every creature. So in that sense, all men are called to come to Christ. Yet, “those who are called” in our original passage refers to those who have not ignored the call (in general, the humble), have not received God’s grace in vain, have repented, and have obeyed the gospel. These are following and fellowshiping with Jesus, are suffering patiently, are fighting the good fight, are being holy and obedient, are walking worthy of their calling, and are being sanctified by Jesus as they abide in Him. These will inherit eternal life if they are faithful to the end, and do not turn from the heavenly calling as Judas did.

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Gather with Jesus or Be Scattered

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 13, 2014

The following is taken from Luke 11:17-26.

Jesus taught that His kingdom is superior in strength to satan’s kingdom, and demonstrated it by casting demons out of people. He has power in Himself to overthrow the devil’s hold on a person in order to “plunder satan’s goods.” God can and wants to deliver us from the power of darkness and convey us into the kingdom of the Son. (Col. 1:13)

Jesus issued this very black and white statement–

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. (Lk. 11:23)

We are either in the kingdom of God or the kingdom of satan. We cannot be somewhere in the middle. The only way to be firmly in the kingdom of God is to be gathering with Jesus (following Him as a sheep follows a shepherd). Any other posture is considered against Him, or treason. And to stop gathering with Him is to begin to be scattered.

Now look at His words in vss. 24-26.

It is not enough to have an emptied and cleaned out spiritual “house.” If we do not gather with Jesus–or fill our “house” with Jesus–we are just empty vessels, still useful to the devil in the future. He has only to search out our weaknesses to gain a foothold in our lives again. We can clean up morally and even profess to be the Lord’s, but if we don’t come to His table and eat His spiritual flesh and drink His spiritual blood, we have no life in us (Jn. 6:53-56). If we do not abide in the Vine, we are still in danger of a fiery destruction (Jn. 15:6). If we are not living according to the Spirit, we are easy prey for the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2). There is no “eternal security” for those who aren’t continually gathering to Jesus.

We must never rest on our past deliverance. The cleaned-up state of our house today does not necessitate that it must always be so. Without active work, what is clean today can be filthy tomorrow. As a matter of fact, a once-evicted spirit can return with seven others more wicked than himself unless a person has filled his house with the Spirit of God! And who is God’s Spirit given to, but to those who are gathering to Jesus by obedience to His Word? (Acts 5:32) And so, to keep firmly in the kingdom of God, we must continue in our active devotion to its King.

Gather to Jesus and actively, decisively follow Him. Incline your ears and heart to His teaching, as recorded in Scripture, and your will to applying it. In Him is Life, and that Life is the light of men (Jn. 1:4). Without Him, the darkness will overtake us. But he who gathers with Him, to follow Him, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (Jn. 8:12)

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The Real Good News

Posted by israeliteindeed on February 11, 2014

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit…having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.  The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.  I Pet. 22-25

The ESV renders that last sentence this way–

“And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

The Word is preached to people by the gospel.

That same Word is the incorruptible Seed–Jesus–through Whom we can be born again.

Obeying the Word (Jesus) is obeying the Truth, and by this our souls are purified.

The Truth = the Word of God = Jesus, and we obey and enter into these by obeying the gospel or good news. All of these are to be obeyed.  You cannot “receive the good news” without obeying Jesus. You cannot be benefited by the gospel (way of salvation) without submitting to Jesus (the Way of Salvation).

A false gospel (that promises blessing for a life of continued rebellion) is often called “the good news” by those who think it very good news indeed that they can sin with impunity now that God is turning a blind eye to their sin because they prayed a little half-hearted prayer. Such a person does not yet know Jesus or the Truth or the Good News. They are still in ignorance and darkness. Though they might list the “death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus” in their doctrines, those precious things will not profit them until they obey the Truth.

The true “good news from a far country” is only refreshing to a weary soul, burdened with carrying the weight of sin (Prov. 25:25; Matt. 11:28-29). The good news of Jesus–Redeemer and Lord–comes to the poor in spirit;  it is the poor who will be brought into that “far country” and inherit the kingdom of God. The poor are ready to be delivered from their slavery to sin and made the willing servants of a new Master.  The mourners (over their sin and spiritual poverty) are they who will be comforted by the good news (Matt. 5:3-4; Isa. 61:1-3).  Those who are proud and remain in obstinate rebellion to God should have no expectation of good news at all; instead the messenger of death will be sent against them (Prov. 17:11).  For the wages of sin is death.

The good news is news of the Kingdom of God (Matt. 4:23, 9:35; Lk. 4:43, 8:1, 16:16). It is the authority of the righteous King ruling over His subjects from their very hearts, while also providing for them all that they need.  The good news also reminds us that although the kingdoms of men often reward unrighteousness and take advantage of others, there is a higher Kingdom ruling over them, and a just King who will always make things right in the end. Although we ourselves have sinned against this King of kings, His will for us is that we repent of our sins and be reconciled to Him through the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the Mediator between God and men. We can be translated from the perishing kingdoms of this world into the Kingdom of the Forever-Living Son of God; and in that Kingdom, we can possess an inheritance that our enemies cannot take from us.

The good news includes within it this wonderful proclamation, “Your God reigns!” (Isa. 52:7)  Yes, for those who live on Mount Zion under the authority of King Jesus (Heb. 12:22), they need fear nothing that can happen to them in this world. Their God reigns. He has not only redeemed them from all iniquity, He shepherds them every step of their pilgrimage.  He is King of all the earth, reigning over the nations, seated on His holy throne (Psa. 47:7-8).

The good news is a publishing of peace to those who through obedient faith are redeemed (Isa. 52:7-9; Nahum 1:15). The redeemed have peace with God because they are forgiven, and live at peace with others as much as they are able (Rom. 12:18; Heb. 12:14).  Their peace surpasses human understanding because it does not rely on comfortable circumstances, but is fueled by faith in the unseen God and His Word.  The wicked are excluded from this peace because there can never be peace unto the wicked (Isa. 48:22);  thus the prophet Nahum proclaims in the same breath that proclaims peace–“The wicked…is utterly cut off.” The wicked have no inheritance in the kingdom of peace.

The good news is a proclamation of righteousness.  David knew this, though he acknowledged that he had committed many sins, and needed a merciful Redeemer through Whom to enter in.  He testified that the law of God was abiding in his very heart, and he delighted to do the will of God (Psalm 40:7-9). Have you washed your robe and made it white in the Blood of the Lamb?  Are you following Him daily in the paths of righteousness?

The good news can be of no profit to the hearer, if the hearer does not add faith to the message (Heb. 4:2-11). Obedience is the only proof of faith.  By faith Abraham obeyed (Heb. 11:8).  Those who disobey the message will not enter the promised rest, even if they are thought to be “the people of God” by others and themselves.  Although the wedding feast is prepared, many who are invited will not be found worthy (Matt. 22:8). Many hear but reject the Word of God, judging themselves unworthy of everlasting life (Acts 13:46).

With the good news–news of peace with God through submission to Jesus–comes the possibility of offense and falling away. Jesus testified to John the Baptist as he was languishing in prison and beginning to doubt–

The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.  Matt. 11:5-6

Some only endure for a while, but when persecution or tribulation arises BECAUSE of the Word–Good News–Jesus–they are offended and fall away (Matt. 13:21). Jesus was warning John the Baptist not to be offended into unbelief due to the injustice he was experiencing. The good news is not news of worldly comfort or popularity with men, but eternal spiritual riches in Christ and peace with God. The wicked plot against the just, and gnash their teeth at them–indeed they even put them to death.  But the Lord makes sure the inheritance of the righteous is secure, completely out of reach of the wicked (Psa. 37). He has destroyed the ultimate enemy–death–by His own resurrection from the dead. He has promised to raise from the dead those who fall asleep (die) in Jesus.

Many want the good news of life after death and forgiveness of sins, but they don’t want the good news that there is a Lord & King Jesus to whom they must submit right now and forever. If they would only taste and see His goodness, they would see that by holding onto sin, they keep themselves from all truly good things!

I have served both God and the devil, and testify that God is a kind, loving, patient, helpful Father;  while the devil was like a cruel desert Pharaoh, demanding that I make brick with no straw and beating me for every failure. There is only one way to have eternal life, unsinkable hope, and unshakeable peace–one must have Jesus as Lord. I almost perished in my sins, and I was sinking fast in despair as I followed lie after lie.  And then I met Jesus. He wanted me to turn and He offered me forgiveness, and a new start with Him in control. For me, it was very good news indeed.

 

Posted in Christian Life, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Seeing, Hearing, & Understanding

Posted by israeliteindeed on February 8, 2014

For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’ Matt. 13:15

Here we see that though the Word of God is sent to heal sinners (Psalm 107:20), they must see, hear, understand and turn in order to be healed. While turning is the act of repentance without which no one can be saved, I would like to focus this study on the seeing, hearing, and understanding that are also important. This is not a comprehensive study, but a starting point for the reader. Please commit some time to studying these passages for yourself with a desire to see and hear and understand what the will of God is.

In Deut. 29:4, Moses declares that although he has been faithfully leading the Israelites for years, God has not given the people hearts to perceive, eyes to see, and ears to hear. Why not? Is the fault God’s or the people’s?

In Isa. 6, the judgment of God is predicted by the prophet, by which God seals the people in their chosen blindness, deafness and lack of understanding until there is devastation and destruction of the people as a whole. Out of this destruction, a tenth (remnant) is manifested as faithful to God. It is this prophecy to which Jesus refers in Matt. 13:15, and it was fulfilled when the majority of the Jews rejected Jesus (the Word made flesh) and a minority repented and believed.

In Isa. 30, God provides further detail as to why the people were blind. They were seeking counsel from the world (Egypt) rather than from Him (vss. 1-2). God instructed Isaiah to record that the people were rebellious children who refused to hear God’s Word. They preferred their spiritual blindness so much that they even commanded those who could see, “Do not see!” (vss. 8-11) As the proverb correctly states, There are none so blind as those who will not see. Dreadful judgment would fall on this people because they despised this Word (of God) and trusted in oppression and perversity (vss. 12-14). But to those who would humble themselves and cry for God’s help and wait for Him to guide their steps, He would give them eyes to see and ears to hear His voice saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” He would give them understanding so that they would throw away their idols as the abhorrent, defiling things that they truly were (vss. 19-22).

Isa. 32:1-4 speaks of a time when ears will be opened, eyes will see, and hearts will understand under a King who reigns in righteousness. (That King has been installed on God’s holy hill; let all the earth acknowledge and worship Him.) The complacent daughters who are “at ease” in Zion are commanded to give ear to God’s speech (vs. 9), for the harvest they expect is not going to come in. While there are some who are seeing, hearing and understanding in Zion because they have submitted fully to Zion’s King Jesus, there are many more who are complacently on their way to a rude awakening. The competing voices of the world have led them by degrees away from giving ear to God’s Word and building their lives accordingly. They do not know that their “house” is not as destruction-proof as they think (Matt. 7:26-27).

When we can still hear the Voice saying “give ear,” we had better give ear. There may come a time when that Voice says instead–

Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed. (Isa. 6:10)

Likewise, when the Word of God says, “Walk while you have the light,” we had better have enough fear of God to get stepping. Otherwise the darkness may yet overtake us! (John 12:35)

Isa. 35 again pictures a time when the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. What we see in this chapter is a hungry and thirsty remnant of people who are weak in themselves and dependent upon God. Not only are they redeemed by the blood of Jesus from their old way of life, they are willing to walk the Highway of Holiness all the way to Zion. Make sure you are in this remnant!

In Jer. 5:20-25, God convicts the people of having useless eyes and ears again. And what are the causes?–No fear of Him (22), defiance and rebellion (23), and iniquity and sin (25). Indeed He declares that it is their sins that have withheld good from them! (25)

The prophet Ezekiel is commanded to receive into his heart and to hear with his ears all of God’s Words (3:10). He is then to relay God’s Words to other people whether they hear or refuse to hear (3:11). Both prophet and people have a choice to hear or to refuse to hear. If we hear and obey ourselves, we can be God’s spokesmen to others. If we do not, He will take away the candlestick of His presence and leave us and our “ministries” in the dark. Not only will we not see, we will be unable to help others. If we try to help others, we will only be the blind leading the blind into a ditch. Please understand that many ministries today are charging full speed ahead without the light of God! They do not even know that He is not with them.

In Ezek. 12:1, God again indicts this blind and deaf people, stating the reason for their blindness and deafness–“They are a rebellious house.”

Through the prophet Zechariah, God issues a scathing rebuke that blames the spiritually deaf for their own deafness–

They refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. (Zech. 7:11-12)

Stephen, speaking by the Holy Spirit, called his countrymen stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, always resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). Whose fault was it that they had uncircumcised hearts and ears? Do we not have a duty to circumcise our hearts and ears to yield to the Holy Spirit of God when He speaks? Yet this crowd stopped their ears yet again at Stephen’s rebuke, and stoned him to death for his words. This is still happening today. Those who speak truth are often despised, while those who say pretty things that flatter sinful men are followed, supported and praised.

How do we respond to the Word of God?

Paul reminded Timothy that people will turn their ears away from the truth, having ears that itch for fables instead! (2 Tim. 4:3-4) They will not endure sound doctrine, and so will stop their ears to it. Why?–because of their own desires which conflict with God’s will and Word. It is a dangerous thing to set oneself against the Word of God! And unfortunately the devil has provided many teachers to satisfy the itching, uncircumcised ears of these rebellious people who abound today. But their rebellion will lead to their destruction if they do not turn around.

We are instructed to incline our ears to the Words of God’s mouth (Psa. 78:1). We are commanded to apply our ears to words of knowledge and our hearts to true instruction (Prov. 23:12). Inclining and applying are action words. God opens the ears of the poor–those who are not wise in their own eyes, but depend upon God to show them what is right (Job 36:15). Those who then do what He says will be blessed.

Repeatedly Jesus finished His teachings with this command, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” The Word and instruction of God has been sent to heal us, but we must circumcise our hearts and ears to hear. Otherwise our hearts will be like stony, unplowed ground, unable to be penetrated or made fruitful by God’s Word.

Additionally, we must walk by His light each day in order to see where we are going. It is in His Light that we can see light (Psa. 36:9). Just as the physical eye cannot see anything at all without the presence of some external light source (sun, moon, lamp, etc.), we cannot see spiritually unless we walk in and with the Light of the World. For thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. To walk with Him, one must follow Him. He alone knows the steps we should take and how to keep us on that Highway of Holiness that ends in Zion.

By worshiping blind and deaf idols, people become spiritually blind and deaf also (Psa. 135:15-18). This can occur even after being born again and washed; a washed sow can return to wallowing in the mud and become unclean again (2 Pet. 2:22). This happened to many in Israel (I Cor. 10:1-11), and it can happen to us if we are not careful to hear and apply God’s Word daily in our lives. The apostle John reminded believers to keep from idols (I Jn. 5:21), for idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9; Rev. 21:8).

When we turn from blind and deaf idols to the living (seeing, hearing, understanding) God, we are then changed into His image by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18). Our eyes and ears will then be opened to see and hear, even as the God we worship sees and hears. He will open our understanding to rightly understand the Scriptures He has breathed (Luke 24:45.) Just as Jesus went about opening the eyes of the physically blind, it is He who opens spiritually blind eyes of those who truly want to see. He counsels the lukewarm church to come directly to Him for forgiveness, sight, and true riches (Rev. 3:18). It is through knowing Him–Jesus–that we receive wisdom and revelation, and have “the eyes of our understanding” enlightened (Eph. 1:17-18).

It is my prayer that as you study these and other passages, you will hunger and thirst to see, hear and understand all that God wants to teach you. That you will repent of any known, willful rebellion against God, and trust in Jesus Christ fully as the only Way. There are many who profess to see, and to be leaders of others, but by their sinful actions we know them to be blind. Leave these blind guides and cleave to the Son of God who will never lead you astray.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day would not admit their blindness without Jesus and step into His light. They resisted and twisted, rather than submitted to, God’s Word; therefore their sins remained upon them despite their outwardly religious lives (John 9:41.) This is also the case with multitudes of people who go to church and profess to know God today; they are blind and in need of eye-salve from Jesus, but they insist they see.

May your eyes truly see. May your ears truly hear. May your heart truly understand. And may you turn that you might be healed.

God bless you.

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False Ideas about God

Posted by israeliteindeed on December 24, 2011

What we believe about God does greatly affect our lives and character. After all, Christians are supposed to be “followers of God.” Contrary to what some well-educated and popular men teach, God has NOT:

1. Given His moral laws (10 commandments) SO THAT we break them.  While the law cannot save, but only show–through our disobedience–that we need a Savior, the law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul. It represents God’s perfect will for our lives, not a standard God has placed purposely out of our reach.  Salvation forgives us for our treason and cancels out our sin-debt, gives power to overcome the sins we have allowed to overcome us, and restores us to the loving, law-abiding status of the obedient children of God. According to Jesus, the moral commandments can be summed up in 2 commands–love God supremely and love your neighbor as yourself.  Who among us, who has truly been to the cross of Christ and remorsefully looked upon the One our sins have pierced, rejects the law of love?–Paul said if anyone loves not the Lord Jesus (our King and Redeemer), let him be accursed.

2. Cursed us with a level of depravity from which we cannot repent. When He commands all men to repent, He expects all men and holds all men accountable to obey that command. (Acts 17:30; 2 Pet. 3:9; Luke 13:3, 24:47)  To disobey the command (which is sent from God to lead us to salvation), is to harden our own hearts, to hate knowledge, to set at nought the counsel of God, to reject the fear of the Lord and despise His reproof. Those who do this will eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.  For the turning away of the simple shall slay them.  (Prov. 1:31-32)

3.  Unconditionally chosen a few to salvation while unconditionally damning the rest. Jesus said anyone who has seen Him has also seen the Father (Jn. 14:9). Jesus healed all who came to Him (Matt. 12:15; Lk. 6:19) and forgave the sins of all those who demonstrated faith, saying He would reject none who came to Him (John 6:37). Rev. 22:17 clearly says the offer of life is for “whosoever will.”  Furthermore, those who did reject Jesus, did so contrary to His will, for He testified with tears, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I WANTED to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but YOU WERE NOT WILLING!” (Matt. 23:37) If in fact, God destined from eternity past to damn these Christ-rejectors because it was His delighted will for them to perish, Jesus was being facetious at best and purposely deceitful at worst when He wept over this city and charged its people with being unwilling to come.

4.  Limited the atonement for the lucky few.  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (I Jn. 2:2)  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. (Jn. 12:32)

5. Forced “irresistable grace” on the select few.  The grace that brings salvation has appeared to ALL MEN–Titus 2:11-12–and CAN be resisted. God is not a rapist. Love allows Himself to be resisted. To say He does not is to make Him less honorable than most earthly men are; few earthly men are dishonorable enough to force their will on a woman. The Pharisees and lawyers REJECTED THE WILL OF GOD for themselves, not having been baptized by him [John the Baptist]. (Luke 7:30)  Stephen testified to his accusers, “You always resist the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 7:51)

6.  Saved people in such a way that they can’t leave Him even if they want to. His command is “Abide in me” and if you don’t, you will be lost.  His command is deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Him, and if you don’t, you will be lost.  His command to those who want to be disciples INDEED (not just in name) is “Abide in my Word.” (Jn. 8:31)  If you don’t, you will be lost.  His command is to get rid of whatever is causing you to sin, lest you be thrown into hellfire (Mark 9:43-48).  He said you must forsake ALL if necessary to be His disciple (Lk. 14:43).  He said if you deny Him before men, He will deny you before the Father (Matt. 10:33).  He said you must endure to the end in faithfulness to Him if you want to be saved (Matt. 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13).  The only Savior has given these warnings to those who follow Him; why are so many lying in His name, teaching some form of unconditional “once saved always saved”???

Dear reader, anyone familiar with the TULIP knows that the doctrines refuted above are the core tenants of Calvinism. This insidious doctrinal schema uses select Scripture (ripped from its context) to malign the character of God and the nature of salvation; and it leads to all kinds of evil fruit.

For John Calvin himself, false ideas about God led to his putting to death those who disagreed with him (completely contrary to the teachings of Jesus).  He became a dictator who ruled Geneva (his earthly kingdom) with an iron fist, rather than a servant laying down his own life for his friends as Jesus was. After all, his God was arbitrary and cruel, delighting in the damnation of the wicked, so why should Calvin be any different?  The Protestant churches of the Reformation era, as opposed to the Anabaptist churches which didn’t agree with these doctrines, were marked by rampant sin. False teaching always brings forth the fruit of wickedness.

Today, the problem is worse because so many sin-lovers with itching ears have turned from the truth and heaped up for themselves false teachers to tell them what they want to hear. People blame their sin on God rather than on themselves as they should. They believe if they haven’t repented, it is God who is to blame for not forcing them to be holy while they revel in their sins. They believe continual rebellion and sin is normal Christianity, and the warnings of Scripture somehow don’t apply to them. They believe they are “saved” to continue to do abominations, but with a cover that will shield them from the all-seeing eyes of God and His judgment to come. God forbid. I beg you to see that these lies were planted to stumble millions into thinking they won’t reap what they sow. Do not be deceived. Read the Scriptures and obey them; build your life carefully and deliberately on the truth lest you come at last to be destroyed, and your false ideas about God with you.

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Refuting Calvinism

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 5, 2011

This is a very well-written article by Doctor Patrick Johnston, demonstrating how Calvinism is contrary to Biblical reason and sound doctrine.  God bless you!

Refuting What Calvinists Believe with What Calvinists Know

Muting the Objection of Conscience and Creation

There are many Calvinists both dead and living who have earned my admiration over the years. That I believe that they are in doctrinal error does not mitigate my respect and admiration for them as mighty men of God. Some of the greatest open air preachers and evangelists during the first and second Great Awakenings were Calvinists. Calvinists are leading Christendom in the restoration of biblical order for the home, in pioneering Christian home education, and are at the forefront of the attempts to apply the truths of God’s Word to issues generally thought of as secular: public education, welfare, economics, criminal justice, and the lordship of Christ over all matters of life. For that, they have my deep respect.

A Calvinist I deeply admire is Greg Bahnsen, one of my favorite Christian apologists who taught me, through his writings, books, and sermons, the presuppositional approach to evangelism and strengthened my belief in theonomy – the belief that governments and nations should obey God’s Word in all matters. When I prepared to listen to a CD that he preached on the subject of Calvinism, I grew concerned that my worldview was going to come crashing down. I have never heard Bahnsen say anything where he wasn’t overwhelmingly persuasive. I felt for certain he was going to bring a probing application of presuppositional apologetics to prove that Calvinism was true, necessitating a sea change in my theological beliefs.

What I heard from him, however, was the opposite: rather than a vigorous appeal to conscience and creation to prove the veracity of the Calvinist system, he advocated rather a suspension of our rational faculties and the muting of the predictable objection of human conscience. He did so based upon a passage from Isaiah, which is often misinterpreted. I’m sure you’ve heard a preacher say it: “God’s ways our not our ways, and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts.” They often take that passage to mean that we just cannot understand God, and therefore shouldn’t try; just accept the truth of His Word by faith. However, a cursory perusal of the passage reveals the gross error in this thinking.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so our my ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your  thoughts.” Isaiah 55:6-9

If your ways aren’t God’s ways, you shouldn’t just accept the conflict as unavoidable – you should repent. If your thoughts aren’t God’s thoughts, you shouldn’t give up trying to think God’s thoughts – you should repent. That’s what this passage plainly means. To interpret this passage to mean that sincere Christians cannot understand God or His thoughts or ways is absurd.

Before one fully embraces the Calvinist system, they must first fall prey to the unstated presupposition that we must suspend our rational faculties and mute the objection of our consciences to simply accept by faith whatever God’s Word says about how He governs. First of all, this is an impractical mission. Without our rational faculties we could not even understand Scripture, much less build a cohesive theological system.  In order for Calvinists to suspend their rational faculties and mute the objection of conscience, they first must engage their rational faculties to come to that conclusion, and enlist the mandate of conscience to submit to the Word of God. Thus, the unstated presupposition of Calvinism is false based upon what Calvinists in fact do. Calvinism’s conclusions so plainly contradict the testimony of nature and conscience that we must constantly be reminded by Calvinists like Bahnsen at the onset of their teaching on Calvinism that “God’s ways aren’t our ways” and we just need to accept Calvinist doctrine in spite of its apparent contradiction to self-evident truths.

Is it not a sin to reason. “Come let us reason together, saith the Lord.” It’s as if Calvinists think that God made our bodies and the devil created our intellect and reason. No, we are to “love the Lord thy God with all thy mind.” (Read More)

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God Sees Your Sin, Pt. 3

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 23, 2011

In the previous post, I wrote out some Scriptures from the Old Testament that demonstrate that once being chosen and favored by God does not make one exempt from living a life pleasing to Him. After entering into covenant with God, one’s future sins are not invisible to God. Many members of “the chosen people” did not inherit the promise because they did not continue to obey the Lord; their carcasses fell in the wilderness, and these things were recorded to warn us that such can happen to us (I Cor. 10:1-12).  Now I would like to examine some New Testament texts that confirm our need for obedience to the Lord after being born into His family, and the consequences for disobedience.

A favorite doctrinal component of Calvinism is that if you have ever believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, or ever had a moment of true faith, His personal righteousness has been imputed to your account once-for-all, and is the only thing God will ever see when He looks at you in the future. In other words, even if you live a wicked life after that and die in sin, God can’t see it; all He sees is Jesus when He looks at you.  If such were true, then not only will He continue to see us as obedient when we disobey, He will be mocked.  He said we would reap what we sow, but we really won’t! He said the wages of sin was death, but we have found a loophole whereby we can sow to our flesh and not reap corruption! He is not only blind, He can’t chastise His children when they do wrong, since He can’t see their sin!

Complete hogwash!

One wonders how God could ever see the righteous acts of the saints, if He can’t see their sin! Do NOT be deceived by these teachings; God will not be mocked. If we sow to our flesh we WILL reap corruption, and God DOES chastise His children when they do wrong. (Gal. 6:7-8; Heb. 12:7) The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good. (Prov. 15:3) The Lord is wearied when people falsely say that evildoers are good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them (Mal. 2:17). People who do what is wicked are wicked; only he that does righteousness is considered righteous in the eyes of the Lord (I John 2:29; 3:7).

Jesus taught the following:

The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves…shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (Jn. 5:28-29)

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus taught the importance of DOING the Father’s will (righteousness), not just acknowledging or SAYING “Lord, Lord.” So important is it to DO the teachings of Christ, that the man who DOES them is likened to a house that survives a storm, while the man who does not DO them is likened to a house that is destroyed in the storm for lack of a proper foundation.  Friend, you ARE that house, and you are determining the final destiny of your house by whether or not you are submitting to Christ and doing God’s will. This is FOUNDATIONAL to your spiritual life.  Remember, King Jesus will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend (cause sin) and all persons who do iniquity, and cast them into the furnace of fire (Matt.13:41-42). So serious it is to get the sin out of your life, Christian, that Jesus said it would be better to cut off an offending body-part than to have your whole body “cast into hell.” (Matt. 5: 29-30)

So what if you don’t do as Jesus said, and deal a death blow to the sin in your own life?  Is all automatically forgiven because of His blood shed on the cross?

If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,  but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.  He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:   of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Heb. 10:26-29)

Friends, this Scripture destroys the license-to-sin doctrine.  If you willfully continue to sin after being sanctified, you are treating the precious blood of Jesus as an unholy thing!  God sees it and views you as worthy of much sorer punishment than the punishments inflicted on those who disobeyed Moses’ law!  When Ananias and Sapphira sinned in the church, was their sin hidden from God’s view? On the contrary, Peter, speaking by the Holy Ghost, rebuked them publicly. Their judgment was swift, and caused the fear of God to fall on the people who heard about it. Paul instructed Timothy to deal with sin in the church in like manner:

Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.   I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.   Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.  (I Tim. 5:20-22)

Instead of following the right ways of the Lord, many in the church instead excuse or overlook flagrant sin, letting it spread like leaven through the whole lump. After all, if a person is considered positionally righteous even when they are doing unrighteous things, then who are they to judge?  False teaching is so dangerous!! Paul instructed the Corinthian church to put the sinner out of the church until he repents!! (I Cor. 5)  To refuse to do so is to be a partaker in other men’s sins and to become defiled.  Remember, the pure religion that pleases God includes keeping oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:27); this presupposes that God sees when we become “spotted.”

In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus–who is God–addresses the church. Does He only see His own righteousness when He looks at them, or does He assess them exactly according to their own works, and command repentance when necessary?  Indeed, Jesus makes some startling threats toward those who will not repent!

“Thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Rev. 2:4-5)

But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.   Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (Rev. 2:14-16)

I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.   Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.  Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.   He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.  (Rev. 3:1-5)

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  (Rev. 3:15-19)

Please study those two chapters in full, and you cannot fail to see that all the beautiful promises of God are specifically for overcomers. We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). There is no easy way; the easy way taken by most is the wide road that leads to destruction. We must die to ourselves, and strive [make every effort, agonize] to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (Luke 13:24)

Peter wrote that because the judgment of God is coming, and because we look forward to a new heaven and earth where only righteousness dwells, we must be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless…and beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. (2 Pet. 3:14, 17)  The righteous can be led away with the error of the wicked and fall? Yes!

Paul wrote of those who swerved away from love, a clean conscience, and sincere faith, and so had left the path of life and had only “vain jangling” or “meaningless talk”–the emptiness of religion without God (I Tim. 1:5-6). He wrote that some who had not held onto faith and a “good conscience” (they defiled and hardened their conscience by disobedience), had shipwrecked their faith! (I Tim. 1:19) He wrote that any who refused to provide financially for their own widows had, by his wickedness, denied the faith, and was worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8). He wrote that some younger widows, being idle and gossipers, had already turned aside after Satan. (I Tim. 5:15)  In fact, Paul recognized that he himself was not immune to falling away:

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.   And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.   I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:   But I keep under my body [keep my flesh crucified], and bring it into subjection [to God’s will]: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (I Cor. 9:24-27, brackets mine)

Paul recognized he could be cast away even after all his dedicated service to God! Just as a man who wants to win a race must be disciplined, so must the Christian life be disciplined, for “if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” (2 Tim. 2:5)  It is possible to begin the spiritual race and not finish the course, which is why we are urged to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and…run with patience [endurance].” (Heb. 12:1)  It is possible to engage in “the good fight” and not compete lawfully, being finally disqualified.

In 2 Peter 2, Peter wrote of false teachers who bring in damnable heresies [such as once-saved-always-saved or “God doesn’t see your sin”], even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  Peter describes these false teachers as having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices. Beware if your spiritual teacher shamelessly claims he cannot cease from sin, and that we must all sin every day in thought, word and deed! They teach such lies because they themselves are spiritually adulterous, loving the things of this world, especially the adoration and financial support of others who love sin and wish to have their ears tickled with sin-excusing lies.  Such teachers allure through the lusts of the flesh those who were clean escaped from them who live in error.  While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. And so these wolves pretending to be ministers teach the flock of God that they have “liberty in Christ” to sin all they want! But when a man serves sin, he becomes the slave of sin! His so-called liberty is false! Don’t be deceived. Peter called these who had at first escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and were again entangled therein and overcome worse off than they were before they knew the Lord!  They were like dogs returning to lick up the vomit they had expelled, or pigs washed from their filthiness returning to their filth.  Truly this is receiving the grace of God in vain!

Dear reader, it is possible to deny the Lord by your disobedient works (Titus 1:16). Consider this carefully:

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)

This is the foundation of the Lord, and will not change despite the empty promises of false teachers.  How do you then depart from iniquity? David said a man could cleanse his way by taking heed to God’s Word (Psa. 119:9)  It is by abiding in Christ that His good fruit will be manifest in your life (John 15).   I John 3:6 teaches that whoever abides in Jesus does not sin! When you go astray, it is directly due to your not abiding in Christ.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.  (John 15:7)

Paul said, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:2-3)  We must CHOOSE the things above or the things of this earth. We must CHOOSE to mortify our members which are on this earth, and to follow the things that please the Lord, because the wrath of God is coming on the children of disobedience (Col. 3:5-6).

Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy post!  I hope it is clear to you that in both Old and New Testaments, God’s covenants with men are conditional. If you have not already, please study both testaments on your own, asking God to open your understanding to the Truth. He has promised wisdom to those who ask, and He has promised to be found of those who seek Him with their whole heart.  He is the God of love, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and purify for Himself a peculiar people zealous for good works. His grace teaches us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11-14). I pray that you do not receive the grace of God in vain! I will leave you with this powerful statement by the Apostle Paul:

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Rom. 8:13)

God bless you!

Posted in Backslider, Calvinism, Christian Life, Once Saved Always Saved, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

God Sees Your Sin, Pt. 2

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 21, 2011

In this post, I would like to present you with Old Testament Scriptures which demonstrate that God deals with people on a day-to-day basis. He makes conditional covenants (agreements) with people, but if the people violate the conditions for blessing and refuse to repent, God is not bound to bless them still. The covenant has essentially been broken. Though God is merciful and loves to forgive, He does not blind Himself to the future sins of His people, allowing them to sin all they want and still remain under His protection and grace.

Some will argue that the Old Testament has no bearing on the lives of New Covenant believers, but this is error. We must remember that Jesus and all the New Testament teachers taught new believers from the Old Testament! It is applicable because God changes not. His character in the Old Testament is still the character He has today. There is a newer and better covenant in place, with a greater High Priest and more precious promises, but God remains the same covenant God, whose conditions must be met if one is to remain in His favor.

The Old Testament Judaic law was a shadow of things to come (Heb. 10:1)–meaning it was a type, from which we can draw truth and parallels relating directly to the present gospel time. Paul wrote exactly that in I Cor. 10:1-12, warning Christians that although the Old Testament Israelites had exited Egypt (symbolically: separated from the world), lived under the cloud (symbolically: enjoyed the protection of God), were baptized in the cloud and the sea (symbolically: old man crucified in baptism, resurrection to a new life as God’s child), ate spiritual meat (symbolically: partook of the True Bread, Jesus), and drank of the Rock who is Christ (received living waters), most were still overthrown in the wilderness before reaching the Promised Land. Why? They lusted, committed idolatry, fornicated, tempted Christ, and murmured in continual complaint, being unthankful. All these things happened to them, and were carefully recorded for examples to us, according to Paul!!

Therefore, we under the New Covenant can be sure that if we do the same things the Old Covenant people did, we will suffer the same fate. Though we have at one time separated from the world, enjoyed God’s protection, been baptized in Jesus, and feasted at the table of God, it is possible that because of our future sins, we will not receive the promise.  For this reason, the writer of Hebrews admonishes us,

For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (Heb. 10:36)

It is imperative for those of us who have faith in the promise of God to DO THE WILL OF GOD with PATIENCE–BEFORE we receive the promise!

Listen to the promise of God given to Israel in Deut. 31:8–

And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

Right after Moses delivered this wonderful promise to Israel, God gave him a snapshot of the future; Israel would “rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.” What would happen next? Would God overlook their future sin and “never forsake them”?–

Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? (Deut. 31:16, 17)

When Joshua’s men suffered defeat at Ai, he sought answers of the Lord. Hadn’t the Lord promised to be with them? Why was He not keeping His promise? The Lord’s answer:

Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.  Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. (Josh. 7:11, 12)

Clearly, God’s promise to be with Israel was conditioned upon their remaining separate from “accursed things.”  God’s present favor is not a promise of unconditional future favor, no matter what you do.

If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. (Josh. 24:20)

The same warning was given to Solomon, a man gifted with wisdom from God:

Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.  (I Chron. 28:9)

Azariah, speaking by the Spirit of God, said the following to King Asa, and the people of Judah and Benjamin:

The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. (2 Chron. 15:2)

Let us not forget David, the man after God’s own heart, the shepherd king chosen to replace the backsliding King Saul. When he took another man’s wife and had her husband killed, “the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” (2 Sam. 11:27)  The Lord did not overlook the sins of the man He had chosen. Many people believe that David remained in a perfectly safe, “saved” condition during the long period of time before he repented, but the Bible does not make this claim–contrarily, it claims that unrepentant adulterers and murders will not inherit the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9; Rev. 21:8). Certainly, God’s mercy was extended to David in that he did not die in an unrepentant state, and His hand was heavy on David leading him to repentance. David could have hardened his heart at Nathan’s rebuke; thankfully, he did not.  We should not conclude from this story that David was an adulterer who was saved (unbiblical), but that God saw David’s sin and expected repentance.

In Ezekiel 8, the prophet was encouraged by God to look upon the wicked abominations–and greater abominations than these–being committed in the house of God. Was this not the house that once had the glory of the Lord resting upon it? (I Kings 8:11) But now God was angry at what the people were doing, so angry that He said,

Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them. (Ezek. 8:18)

Dear reader, God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day (Psa. 7:11).  He does not turn a blind eye to the future deeds of those who are presently considered “righteous.” In fact, He declared that if a righteous person turns from past righteousness  to future sin, none of his past righteousness will even be remembered! (Ezek. 3:20; 18:24-26; 33:12) A righteous person’s future sins are not invisible to God! Dare you say to the all-seeing God, “You can’t see what I’m doing”?

Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? (Isa. 29:15)

The Lord says to His chosen people that turn to sin, “I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins.” (Amos 5:12) Not only does He know them, but “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Eccl. 12:14)  If you cover your sins (perhaps with unbiblical arguments like “God doesn’t see my sin”), you will NOT PROSPER, but if you confess AND FORSAKE them, you will have mercy (Prov. 28:13).

Although Israel had a covenant agreement with God whereby his sins could be covered and forgotten, his refusal to obey God’s voice, and his continuation in wickedness made his iniquity to be remembered (Ezek. 21:24). Because the people refused to restrain their wandering feet, the Lord no longer accepted them, but would now “remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.” (Jer. 4:10)

This doctrine that “God doesn’t see my sin” grieves the heart of God, who desires to heal backsliders of their ways if only they would “consider…in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face.” (Hos. 7:1-2)

Apostasy was so rampant when the prophet Jeremiah was preaching, that the Lord directly said to the people, “I will utterly forget you…I will forsake you…and cast you out of my presence.” (Jer. 23:39)  Because the people transgressed the covenant and “cast off the thing that is good,” counting the “great things” of His law “a strange thing,” the Lord would no longer accept them, but would remember their iniquity and send them back to Egypt! (Hos. 8:3, 12, 13)  Because the people went whoring away from the God who loved them, and insisted upon corrupting themselves, He would “drive them out of His house,” “love them no more,” and “cast them away.” (Hos. 9)

The Israelites were taught by God, through the Levitical system, how costly sin was by seeing their innocent beasts die for their sins. Whatever sins were remitted by the shedding of blood would not be remembered against them. It was not a one-time deal, but a lifestyle of obeying God’s voice, examining themselves, and making appropriate offerings to God while seeking His forgiveness and favor. A man who became careless with the things of God was “cut off from his people.” Although the blood of animals cannot take away sins, these things were written for examples to us, and for our admonition (I Cor. 10:11).  Our offering for sin is the blood of Jesus Christ (shed once for all time), but this does not negate the fact that we must live lifestyles of obeying God’s voice, heeding His correction, examining ourselves sincerely, confessing and forsaking sin while seeking the Lord’s forgiveness, and looking to the crucified & risen Lamb of God with faith in His blood.  Carelessness and callousness can still result in being “cut off.” I will discuss this same theme in New Testament Scriptures in the next post.

God bless you!

Go to Part 3

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Parable of the Old and Young Travelers

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 19, 2011

Two young travelers were keeping to the way marked out for them by a wise friend, headed for a wonderful destination where they were promised the sweetest rest. After some time, they came to a fork in the road and hesitated a spell, pondering the dilemma. The left fork matched the mark on the map, but the right fork seemed decidedly more enjoyable, as it passed by a nice stream and through a grove of fruit trees.  The fruit on those trees seemed so appealing, and the more they thought on that fruit, the more that path seemed right to them.  As they squinted into the horizon, it seemed to them that the right fork joined back to the left fork in the distance! How wonderful! Either way would bring them to the desired destination! And so the young travelers began down the right fork–the one which was not marked for them on the map.

Suddenly a weary old man came hobbling toward them.  His shoes were worn out, and he looked as though his travels had been less enjoyable than the scenery promised. His eyes were wild as he waved the two youngsters back. “Don’t go this way!” he cried. “I chose that path twenty years ago, and it has taken me all this time to find my way back to the correct path! My traveling companion has been lost forever! I have endured unspeakable hardship for my folly, and now have the added burden of regret. Take the left fork! Go back! Go back!” The youth were amazed at the old man’s story. What an eccentric old man!  They were young and capable, and the road seemed friendly enough to their eyes. Why, just ahead was the promise of refreshment! They smiled at the old man condescendingly and continued on their way.

The old man’s shoulders sagged with sorrow. If only they would have listened!

And so it goes everyday. Tired and battered saints, who have returned from the land of the dead by the sheer mercy of God, try to warn the simple ones who are just going in the wrong direction.  But most do not listen. They think those old saints are eccentric, always prattling on about obedience and carefulness–it seems they can’t just enjoy life!  “He may have fallen into trouble, but I shall fare better than he,” they think.  They have been given the map, the Word of God, for guidance, but they trust in their own eyes and feelings more than they trust God. Because they want their own way to bring them to heaven, they convince themselves that their own way is also right; in their deception, they do not know that their way leads to death (Prov. 14:12). They smile at the crazy old messengers, shrug, and hurry on their way.

And the old travelers weep in secret for their pride; their eyes weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive. (Jer. 13:17)

Wisdom calls aloud outside;
She raises her voice in the open squares.
She cries out in the chief concourses,
At the openings of the gates in the city
She speaks her words:
“How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?
For scorners delight in their scorning,
And fools hate knowledge.
Turn at my rebuke;
Surely I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.
Because I have called and you refused,
I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded,
Because you disdained all my counsel,
And would have none of my rebuke,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your terror comes,
When your terror comes like a storm,
And your destruction comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.
“Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the LORD,
They would have none of my counsel
And despised my every rebuke.
Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way,
And be filled to the full with their own fancies.
For the turning away of the simple will slay them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
But whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
And will be secure, without fear of evil.”

Prov. 1:20-33 (NKJV)

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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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