The Grace of God

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

Posts Tagged ‘theology’

The Field is the World

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 15, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MOURN over sin in the church (vs 2),

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you!

 

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Sovereignty and Free Will

Posted by israeliteindeed on February 1, 2010

Are Sovereignty and Free Will opposites?

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

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

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

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

   

Natural Parental Sovereignty

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

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

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

   

Application

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

 

Growing Crops

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

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

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

 

Application:

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you!

  

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Appointed to Stumble

Posted by israeliteindeed on December 15, 2009

Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “ The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,”  and “ A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. I Pet. 2:7-8

Question:  Why do some stumble?  Answer:  Because they are disobedient to the Word.

Men are not appointed by God to be disobedient (as Calvinism falsely teaches). They are, however,  appointed by God to stumble if they are disobedient. God has determined that all who are disobedient to His voice and His Word shall stumble. In like manner, God has determined that all who are obedient to His Word shall be upheld by it and shall not stumble.

The choice is with you; will you obey God’s Word or not? You are free to choose obedience or disobedience, but you are not free to choose the consequences of your actions. God has sewn into the fabric of the world the principle of reaping what we sow. If we sow disobedience to the Word of God, we are foolish men building upon the sand. No matter how beautiful the structure may appear for a time, the flood of God’s judgment will carry it away. (Matt. 7:24-27)

Jesus Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1, Rev. 19:13) and the “chief cornerstone,” without which the whole building falls. Those who reject Him are appointed to stumble. They are appointed to have their “house” destroyed.

Speaking to apostate and disobedient Israel, the prophet Jeremiah relayed this message:

To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised,  and they cannot give heed. Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them; they have no delight in it.   Jer. 6:10

Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people—the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My words nor My law, but rejected it. Jer. 6:19

Therefore thus says the LORD: “ Behold, I will lay stumbling blocks before this people, and the fathers and the sons together shall fall on them. The neighbor and his friend shall perish.”  Jer. 6:21

Did you catch that? WHY did God say He would lay stumbling blocks before this people? It was because they did not delight in the Word of the Lord, and refused to heed it. They were disobedient. God lays the blame on the people; in fact, He said the calamity He would bring on them was actually “the fruit of their thoughts.” They would reap what they had sown.

Hosea 14:1 is another witness to the fact that disobedience is the reason why people stumble:


O Israel, return to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.

Again,

Hear and give ear: Do not be proud, For the LORD has spoken. Give glory to the LORD your God before He causes darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and while you are looking for light, He turns it into the shadow of death and makes it dense darkness. Jer. 13:15-16

Here is a warning–Hear and give ear to God’s Word! Give glory to the Lord or He will cause darkness to come upon you (spiritual blindness), and your feet will stumble.  You have a choice, friend.

Jesus repeated these warnings in the New Testament:

Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him. Luke 8:18

Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you… John 12:35

Jesus is both the Word of God and the Light of the World. If you will not heed the Word of God, nor walk in His Light while He shines His truth upon you, what light you have will be taken from you; and what Word has been sown into your heart shall be snatched away by satan or choked out by the “cares, riches and pleasures of life.” But if you hear the Word with a “noble and good heart, keep it (obey it) and bear fruit with patience,” you will be blessed of God. (Luke 8:11-15)

If you will return, O Israel,” says the LORD, “Return to Me; And if you will put away your abominations out of My sight, then you shall not be moved.” Jer. 4:1

Notice that little word “if” in the previous verse. Would you like to be kept from stumbling? Heed God’s Word (obey Jesus Christ) and return to Him, putting your sins out of His sight.

He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he. Prov. 16:20

I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons.  I have set the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Psa. 16:7-8

Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing causes them to stumble. Psa. 119:165

God bless you.

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Election and “The Elect”

Posted by israeliteindeed on November 29, 2009

Without a doubt, “election” is a Christian doctrine.  The question is, what is election, and how is one elected?

Are Calvinists correct to say that God pre-ordains some particular men to be His “elect”, and other particular men to be damned, regardless of any foreknowledge God has of whether or not these men will choose to do right or wrong?

Or am I correct, when I say that God pre-ordained a particular class of men to be His elect, and this class is open to all who come to Jesus and abide in Jesus. This class contains those men found to be in Christ at the end of their lives, or at His coming, whichever comes first.  God also pre-ordained a particular class of men to be damned, which class is also open to all who persist in rebellion. And that class of men includes all who are not found in Christ at the end of their lives, or at His coming, whichever comes first.

The statement in bold type above is my thesis, and I will return to it.

If I understand the Calvinist position correctly, they believe no person can come to Jesus unless that person was first “elected” by God, and then given to Jesus, based on John 6:37 (which passage, by the way, does not use the word “elect,” nor does it even refer to election as far as I can see.) It says,

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

So it would seem, if this verse is wrested from its context, that no one can come to Jesus except by the Father.

I recall that Jesus said the opposite, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6)  He claimed to be “the Way” to the Father.

So how are we to understand that no one comes to the Father but through Jesus, yet no one comes to Jesus but by the Father?  Either there is a contradiction, or one or both of these verses are not being properly understood.

I am completely unwilling to contradict Jesus in either case, so I seek to understand what He meant in both cases.

John 14:6 can really only be taken one way.  NO ONE can come to the Father except by Jesus Christ.  He is the ONLY mediator between men and God.  Salvation is fixed firmly in this, that Jesus Christ is the only way to God.  Salvation must always be Christ-centered.

So what do we do with John 6:37?  I contend that the context of Jesus’ words sheds light on what He meant—and He was not referring to “election,” but rather to the fact that truly God-fearing people would be led by God to Jesus Christ. A perfect example of this is Cornelius, a man who “feared God” but did not know Christ until Peter preached the gospel of Christ to him, after which he was saved and filled with the Holy Ghost. (Acts 10)

The Pharisees, to whom Jesus was speaking in John 6, were not men who “feared God.”  They were hypocrites who only pretended to fear God, and Jesus was exposing their hypocrisy by proving the fact that they didn’t really belong to God. If they truly feared God, they would come to Jesus, God’s only way to the Father, as did Cornelius. I will write more on John 6 in another writing.

I hope you can see that the way in which I’ve interpreted these 2 passages leaves no contradiction—the way to be reconciled to God is by Jesus Christ, but only a God-fearing man will come to Jesus Christ. The enemies of God will reject the messengers of God, including Jesus. But the way in which the Calvinist interprets the John 6 passage introduces a terrible contradiction, not to mention a slander on the character of God—for they assert that God hold back the majority of people from ever coming to Jesus for salvation, and then punishes them in eternal fire as punishment!

Back to my thesis, we are elect when we properly identify with the Son of God, Jesus Christ–that is, we repent of our sins as commanded and place a submissive and obedient faith in Christ. All who are found in Jesus at the end of their lives or at the coming of Jesus are God’s elect.  God has pre-determined that every person who properly identifies with Jesus (and endures to the end in such a state—Matt. 10:22) will be saved. These are His elect, whom He will gather from the four winds at His appearing (Matt. 24:31).

The key here is understanding that there is ONE QUALIFICATION for God’s elect. They must be found in Jesus, because Jesus IS God’s elect. Thus we see that Jesus truly is The Way, and no man comes to God but by Him.

Jesus IS God’s elect:

Isa 42:1 Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom my soul delights! I have put my Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.

I Peter 2:6 …Behold I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.

Other verses which refer to God’s elect are referring to those who are in Christ, including Matt. 24:22, 24; Luke 18:7; Rom. 8:33, 11:7; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:10; I Peter 1:2, 5:13; and 2 John 1:1, 13.

I Peter 1:2 tells us something important about the elect:

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ…

God knows all things, past, present and future. His foreknowledge does not indicate that there is a pre-written script.  He exists outside of time. Thus He knows the future as well as the present.  He knows who will be found in Christ Jesus and saved. Notice in the verse that those called “elect” are those being sanctified and sprinkled by Jesus’ blood.  They are “in Christ.”  The verse does not tell us that unsaved people are arbitrarily elected to salvation. It tells us that those God foreknew would be in Christ are elected to salvation.  This is because Jesus is THE Elect One. This truth is evident from other Scriptures, which must also be taken into account.

God adopts all who are in Christ:

Anyone who has the Son has the Father also. I Jn. 2:24.

Those found in Christ are adopted as sons by the Father. Rom 8:15.

Rom 8:29 For whom He did foreknow (have knowledge of beforehand), he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Those whom God foreknows will identify with His Son, He also predestinates to be like His Son, and to be adopted into His family.)

Eph 1:4-6 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Please notice that we are “chosen” in Christ. (Christ is the Chosen one.)

Notice that we are predestinated for adoption by Jesus Christ.

Notice we are accepted IN Jesus Christ (the Beloved.)

The person who is IN Christ is therefore chosen, predestinated for adoption, and accepted—because they are in Christ.

Jesus is the Chosen one.

Matt 12:18 Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!…

Luke 23:35 …Let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.

I Peter 2:4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious.

If we are In Christ, we too are chosen:

Eph 1:4 Just as He chose us IN HIM before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.

Please notice we are chosen IN HIM!  This is because HE is THE CHOSEN ONE.

Jesus was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Rev. 13:8. This does not mean all people from the beginning of time are saved automatically. Nor does Eph 1:4 mean that individuals were singled out as “chosen” no matter what their own choices might be.

Jesus is the one chosen and slain before the foundation of the world. And God has ordained that all who are found in Him are chosen with Him.

God gives choice to all men and commands repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ. He enables all men to respond in faith; He has initiated salvation for every man, but all men have not met His conditions.  Only those who are found IN HIM can be called chosen, because God CHOSE before the foundation of the world to elect all persons who are IN CHRIST to be saved.

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