The Grace of God

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

Posts Tagged ‘reprobate’

Dear Backslider, …

Posted by israeliteindeed on January 1, 2014

Dear Backslider, 

Are you truly sorrowful for your sin?  Are you filled with remorse, wishing you could undo what you have done?  Do you honestly desire to be reinstated as an obedient child, forgiven and at peace once again?  Are you willing to cast your sins away from you in disgust and determination to submit to God?

God wants the backslider back. Don’t let satan cause you to doubt that.  If you are in a state of godly sorrow over your sin, there is hope for you.  Godly sorrow over sin produces repentance leading to salvation (2 Cor. 7:9-10). 

No one wasted his life more than the thief on the cross, yet Jesus–even in personal agony on His own cross–was quick to forgive him and comfort him because he humbled himself. 

Peter was someone who knew the Lord and walked with Him, and heard His teaching and even had Jesus explain teachings to him on an intimate basis.  He fell away the night Jesus was betrayed, due to his fear of what men might do to him. But afterward he sorrowed to repentance, and Jesus not only accepted him back, but gave him instructions (“feed my sheep”–John 21:15-18).  Peter went on to be a strong leader in the church despite his failure (which the whole world knows about!)

Read Micah 7:18-19.  God “delights in mercy.”  He does not give mercy grudgingly to the humble. He gives it gladly. It rejoices His heart to see a sinner repent, and Jesus was careful to tell us that all of heaven rejoices with God over this too (Luke 15:10). 

Are you afraid you have messed up so much that you can’t come back? Many believe they may have committed the “unpardonable sin,” and this keeps them from returning to the Lord.

The “unpardonable sin” is a confusing topic, but read the passage in Matthew 12:22-32. Notice that the pharisees had accused Jesus of setting a man free from a demon by the power of the devil (vs 24). The truth was that Jesus had done it by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is the sin Jesus referred to, which would not be forgiven.  

It is not 100% clear to me why this won’t be forgiven. Perhaps it is because there is “woe to those who call good evil.” (Isaiah 5:20)  If a man is in bondage to devils, and then he is freed by God, and you are so blind as to call his salvation from devils evil, what hope does God have at leading you to repentance by His Spirit?–If you are now referring to His Holy Spirit as the devil?  This is the terrible place the pharisees were in. They were so hardened in their hearts that even the most beautiful deliverance was evil to them. They could not recognize God the Son, and they could not recognize God the Spirit, but instead always resisted Him (Acts 7:51).  They refused the baptism that signified repentance (Luke 7:29-30), showing that they were not willing to let the Holy Spirit draw them to God. 

If you are not rejecting repentance, or attributing the works of the Holy Spirit of Jesus to the devil in an effort to reject Jesus, then you are not committing “the unpardonable sin.”   If you see your need, that is proof enough that there is hope for you

If you see that your wasted time is a debt you owe God, if you see that your sin should never have been committed, and if you desire to be restored as God’s child, and if you will sincerely repent and submit to Him, He will happily forgive you and let you start over!  Let the remorse over your past be a fuel that works for your good, and for God’s good! Let it bind your wandering heart more tightly to Him from this day forward.  

After I first got right with the Lord for a while, I backslid. In fact, I entered into sin more wicked than the things I had done before!  I can still remember hearing a voice in my head saying that I was destined to continue in sin. The voice said there was no way out. That voice was the devil lying to me (just as he may now be lying to you.) He had gained access to my life through my sin, but I began to plead with God to rescue me from the deep pit I was in. 

Something inside me knew that there must be hope, even though I did not know the Bible very well at that time.  God answered my repeated cries for help by having a Christian brother call me. He told me he had noticed I was “not right,” and asked if there was something wrong. I realized this was my “rescue rope” sent by God, and if I didn’t grab it with all my might, I might be lost forever. I humbled myself and confessed my dark secrets to him.  Thankfully, the Holy Spirit spoke to me through this man, telling me my sin had separated me from God, but if I would put away my sin and ask for mercy, I could start over.   I fully turned away from those things, including making changes that would help me keep from that sin in the future.  

It is always hard to go back to the beginning, and if the heart is properly tenderized by regret, it is a very humble and low place. It is a place of agonizing.  “Strive to enter the narrow gate” literally means “Agonize to enter” in the Greek.  But it is in that humble and low place that God begins to help us, for He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.  It starts out as agonizing, but it becomes a place of mercy and freedom as God washes us in His own blood, and draws near to us in our humility (James 4:7-10).  In this humble place, He teaches us that our own hearts and emotions are not to be trusted (they got us into alot of trouble), the world is not to be trusted, the lusts of the flesh must be crucified, and if we are to be overcomers, we must find a deep abiding place in Jesus. We learn to be humble sheep following our Good Shepherd and not wandering off. 

Read Hosea 5:14 through Hosea 6:3.  God tore at the backsliders as a lion would tear the prey, then He retreated to His den (seeming to ignore them) to wait for them to “acknowledge their offense.”   Do you feel the affliction and sense the awful separation your sin has caused?  There is hope for you.  He afflicted them SO THAT they would seek Him.  He could have just killed them, but in mercy He afflicted them and waited for their repentance.   All of this was in order to bring about the beautiful ending–Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.      After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight. Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.  

Dear Backslider, I hope that what I have shared here will increase your hope in the Lord, and that you will have a testimony of full restoration to share with others in the near future.  After you are restored to the Lord, get into the Word of God with all your might.  Seek God in the Scriptures and read to apply every word to your life. His Word will renew your mind and change you from the inside out. And it will fortify you from the false teachings that are everywhere. 

God bless you and help you!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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!

  

Posted in Calvinism, Christian Life, Judgment of God, Once Saved Always Saved | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
%d bloggers like this: