Ordo Salutis IX: Our New Inheritance – Spirit’s Witness in Our Adoption

We have fully established that we are not fully alive despite being biologically alive. Throughout the Bible, starting in Genesis 2, God states that sin separates the soul of man from the spirit of God. And without God, we are dead.

And just being dead is not enough:

Ephesians 2:1–3 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

And just when we think that Paul is being too critical or even too harsh, look at what the Apostle John has to say 1:

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

So you see, by being born and apart from God, we are doubly both dead in our trespasses and by nature children of the wrath of God.

Paul explains this in the best way by way of comparing our original father, Adam, and the second Adam, Jesus Christ:

Romans 5:12–21 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—  for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.  Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.  And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.  For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.  For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.  Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,  so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now I know that is a long passage, but let me put together a pros and cons list to help better see Paul’s point:

Adam

Christ

Sin came into the world through him

Righteousness came into the world through him

Death came into the world through sin

Life came into the world through him

Death spread to all men because all men have sin

Life given for many because Christ was sinless

Sin was the trespass of Adam

Grace is the free gift of Christ

Many died

Many live

Judgment brought condemnation because of trespass

Free gift brought justification despite many trespasses

Death reigned through Adam

Life reigns through Jesus Christ

Adam’s one trespass led to condemnation for all men

Christ’s one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men

Adam’s disobedience the many were made sinners

Christ’s obedience the many will be made righteous

the law came in to increase the trespass

where sin increased, grace abounded all the more

sin reigned in death because of Adam

grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ

So why so much focus on the distinction between the unbeliever and the believer?

The easy answer is because God makes that distinction quite clear in his word.

But the difficult answer lies with the beliefs of many Christians today.

                                                                                                    

A couple of years ago, I was put to the task of debating classic Calvinist Non-Calvinist views of Scripture after dinner with a friend. The debate was thoroughly enjoyable and quite full of passion.

My friend and I started shaking the word of God down to its core teachings (doctrines). I did not want to start off with hard-hitting verses on faith and regeneration (the question of which came first) until we established the what we did have in common: namely, the goodness and loveliness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To make a long story, short, I contended that we must first have a new heart in order to choose God, have faith in Christ, and obey His commands by the power of the Holy Spirit. I argued, without God, we cannot choose God. I pointed to this verse (backed by John 1:12-13)

1 John 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

In other words:

  • If you believe in Christ, you must be born of God
  • If you love the Father, you must be born of God

So my friend said, “Exactly”. Colored me confused.

She contended that every person ever been born (which God calls “born of man”) is born of God. We ended our debate there.

God makes the clear distinction between unbelievers and believers. Calls them goats and sheep 2. Chaff and wheat 3. Weeds and wheat 4. Many of those who are on the wide road of destruction versus those who go through the narrow door of salvation 5. Those who set their mind on the flesh versus those who set their mind on the Spirit. 6

A life lived by absolutes is wholly not recommended. It is only where God makes clear distinctions between one way and the next is where we can be sure that there is no in-between.

So what can we say to all of this?

If we are saved by God, then God is our Father.

Romans 8:12–15 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

And if God is our Father, God absolutely promises we will look like His Son (and God does not break promises).

Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Hebrews 12:3–11 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.  In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.  And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”  It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

And if God is our Father, we will not stand before Him in our own defense as though we could do so in our own self-righteousness. No! God himself bears witness with our witness that we belong to Him.

Matthew 7:21–23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

And then God is our Father, and the Holy Spirit of adoption is our witness, then it stands to reason that Christ is our Eldest Brother. If that being the case, we are then co-heirs with He whom is heir to all things.

Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Hebrews 1:1–2 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

And to that end, you believe and trust in God, then the Father of Christ is your Father. We are His sons forevermore because a Perfect Father never loses his kids.

John 10:28–30 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”

Notes:

  1. I do not completely ascribe the red letters as being absolutely the spoke words of Christ, even though all words are from Christ. So I take precaution to automatically crediting red words to Christ unless the author specifically said, “Jesus said”
  2. Matthew 23:33
  3. Matt 3:12
  4. Matthew 13:24-30
  5. Matthew 7:13-14
  6. Romans 8:4-8

Mark 9:42 God Alone Is Strong

Mark 9:42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

  1. How serious do you think Jesus is about teaching about Himself?
  2. Why do you think he was so serious about teaching his little ones? Are little ones weak or strong?
  3. Who are God’s children?
  4. Should everybody be a teacher? Why or why not?

John 21:15–19 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”  He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”  He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.  Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”  (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 23:2b He Leads Me Beside Still Waters

My Lord, You are the fountain of true life. I am dead without you. It is not that I can find this water on my own. For I am lost. and, my soul is dried-up and dead. I have no wisdom, strength, or spirit to find you. But you, O Lord, rescued me. You have brought me into your life and in your life alone, I am fully alive. My soul is no longer dried in sin but restored, covered, and filled with your never-ending grace. God, please keep me close so that I stay refreshed and satisfied in all of life.

Here is Love: Romans 8:30b Called

And here is love: Romans 8:30b And those whom he predestined he also called…

So if there was nothing in us to attract, sway, or convinced God to love us and save us, what did God see in us before He saved us?

There is a war in our world to determine the value of a human’s life. Life today is no longer precious. Consider the life of a newborn or the life of a refugee. What are they to the world as a whole but lambs up for a slaughter.

But even biologically speaking, life of a human is determined by lungs breathing air, heart pumping blood. We could take it one step further that a life being lived to it’s capacity is one that is functioning on a brain or muscle capacity. And even further still, one that contributes to society.

But I am here to tell you that without the mark of the Spirit of God upon our lives as sons and daughters of God the Father, we are not fully made alive.

All humans born, or as the Bible puts it as all those born of Adam, do breath air and hearts pump blood.  But to be born is to be born under the curse of our original father. That is, to be born is to be born into sin.

And there is no escaping that. It is impossible for any baby to be born without the sperm of a male to be joined to the egg of the female. It would take a miracle of God to be borned of a woman alone and thus, not to inherit the curse of Adam’s first sin.

Now, because we are born into sin, we are born to die. Consider Paul in Ephesians:

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” 1

or this in Titus:

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 2

Because of sin, we are dead. We are nothing more than spirit-less corpses toiling around until we fully expire. But the world wants to convince us all that there is actually life apart from God. And not only the world, but we ourselves as believers are strongly tempted to sin and stray outside the grace of God.

We are not fully alive until we are saved by God, given a new heart, and His Spirit within us.

So how does God go about that?

First, salvation by God starts with God’s sovereign choice. But salvation certainly doesn’t end there.

All throughout the Bible, there is a certain thing that God does over and over again—constant and perfect—prior to someone experience God’s salvation. While we would never know God’s choice in all matters but we can see the effects of some of his choices. And none quicker and clearer than the powerful and effectual calling of God.

Now, we see this in Genesis 12 when God called Abram to trust and obey him. We see the calling of God upon the birth and life of Isaac. Onward with Jacob, Joseph, Noah, Moses, and on it goes.

But we only see where it was 100% effective. Does God ever call on someone and they don’t follow him? Jonah tried but was made to be convinced otherwise.

The Bible never lists those who don’t follow God upon his calling because God’s almighty word never returns void. In other words, His word does not return back to him without fulfilling what God wants to do. 3 Consider this parable from Jesus:

Matthew 13:1–9; 18-23 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea.  And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach.  And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil,  but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  He who has ears, let him hear.”

“Hear then the parable of the sower:  When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.  As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy,  yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.  As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.  As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Christ said to himself that many will hear the word of the kingdom and yet, only a few where that word takes root, grows, and thrives. But we cannot confused the blanket preaching of the gospel to everybody to the ends of the earth (which we can joyfully participate in) along with the effectual calling of God.

For all that God intended to save, God will actually saved. So where we see when God calls individuals, God actually saves individuals. And now, we who possess His Holy Spirit now take the fullness and the power of gospel to everyone and everywhere, proclaim it forth and it is God who still saves.

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.  For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 4

So God predestines. From there, God calls. When He actually calls, He actually saves. Salvation includes and new heart that springs forth new desires for God and His Spirit dwells within us.

If God charged a prophet to a call out to the valley of dry bones and they live, how much more powerful is the calling of God on those who are far from Him.

Consider the ultimate calling of God from death unto life.

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” 5

We know Jesus has raised those who were extremely ill to the point of being thought of as death. But Jesus quickly corrects with, “She’s just asleep”. But Lazarus was someone who was dead for four days. His body was wrapped and laid in the tomb.

This is the first time we’ve seen Christ step before not just His friend’s dead body but at Death itself. Through the deepest and darkest grief and pain of losing his friend, even for a moment, Christ looked upon His Father and with tears running down his cheeks, he simply prays, “Father, I thank you that you hear me and have heard me. I knew that you always heard me but I want everybody around here to know that as well so that they believe in me.”

It is Jesus Christ—the lord ruling over heaven, earth, and hell; the upcoming victor over Satan and his demons—faced death and with His own voice cut through Death’s power and call his friend back to himself: “Lazarus, come out!”

This was the first time Christ faced death and won. But wasn’t the last.

As Christ broken, hunged, and blood drained upon that cross, through excurciating and tortorous pain and grieve as he had taken all of all the sin of all believers of all time everywhere and as He was absorbing the wrath of God for us, He called upon His Father and declared, “It is finished”, and gave up His Spirit and died.

We might think that Satan, demons, hell, and especially Death absolutely believe that God was defeated and Christ was dead and by what they have seen, all of mankind would perish forever.

But no! It was when Christ died and gave up his life as ransom for many is the precise moment that Satan was crushed, demons were lorded over, hell was controlled, our sins abolished, and Death defeated once and for all.

That is a love that is simply unfathomable but that is exactly the fullest of God’s love for us.

Notes:

  1. Ephesians 2:1-3
  2. Titus 3:3
  3. Isaiah 55:10-11
  4. 1 Corinthians 3:5–9
  5. John 11:38-44

God Honored

The sea, dry land, winter cold, summer heat, morning light, evening shade are full of thee, and thou givest me them richly to enjoy. Thou art King of kings and Lord of lords; At thy pleasure empires rise and fall; All thy works praise thee and thy saints bless thee; Let me be numbered with thy holy ones, resemble them in character and condition, sit with them at Jesus’ feet.

– from God Honored
The Valley of Vision

Ordo Salutis XIII: Our New Heart – Spirit’s Power in Regeneration

When God saved us from eternity past, His saving work was not finished when Christ lived, died, buried, and rose again, as though there is nothing for him for his people.

You see, every single person born of man since Adam and Eve were born inherently not in connection with God but being apart from God both infinitely and eternally. That separation is because we have no spirit of God because our hearts were not born of God.

Sin has devastating, tearing, ripping-in-half effects. Adam and Eve felt that to a large degree but I don’t think they could possibly fathom what it would be like for their children and their children’s children and for all of the world.

But we see the state of the world today and exponentially more than our forefathers because we have every kind of information at our fingertips.

School shootings, mass genocide, abortions in the thousands per day: there seems to be no end in depravity. And just when think that our way of life on its own is a little better, we found out that our way of life and privilege is most often at the expense of someone else’s well being. You just have to open your eyes and see.

And even seeing it all has gotten to be too much for most of us. Too much sin, death, disease, depravity, and tragedy for us to handle on top of our own lives.

That is the inheritance of Adam. That is what we are cursed with.

But can we for sure say “all humans” are born this way? Surely there are some who are born good? There has got to be some hope?

Back in the Old Testament, from the time of Adam, the wickedness of humankind spread throughout the earth.

Genesis 6:5-7 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

When God spoke of Man, what did he declared? They were greatly wicked and the thoughts of their hearts were only producing evil. And God regretted ever creating mankind, the very image-bearers of Himself.

Before we continue, was Noah a man? So would he have been evil or born good apart from these wicked people?

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 1

Does the Bible say, “But Noah was a good dude so God decided to spare him.” No, Noah was wicked just like everyone else. But the favor and grace came upon Noah for no other reason because God is good.

You might say, “But what about the next verse?” Let’s read that:

Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.

Now put verses 5 through 9 all together. Look at the order in relation to Noah. Noah was wicked. The thoughts of Noah’s heart produced evil continuously. God regretted ever creating Noah. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

Because God gave him grace, it was then and only then Noah was declared righteous and blameless in his generation. We know it’s not that Noah was born righteous or even living a righteous life apart from God because Paul quotes a psalm of David in Romans 3:

Romans 3:9–31

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

But then some would argue that God gave us laws in order for us to be holy. But that is not the purpose of the law. The law of God was simply put in place to get you to see all of your sin and wickedness in the presence of holy and just God. Paul goes on to declare that the law was weak. In other words, the law of God is a mirror for your soul and heart but that’s all it could do. The law of God was powerless and feeble to save your soul.

You know what the real kicker is: with our hearts far from him, we are not actually obeying the laws of God. I know because it is impossible for us to obey God’s law if our hearts are far from him.

Romans 8:7–8 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Isaiah 64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

Because of our wicked hearts, whatever “righteous” deeds we think we are doing are just dirty rags thrown before the feet of God thinking that will be good enough to be saved by Him.

Look at what Jesus says:

Matthew 7:21–23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Wait a minute here. These people were doing what Christ told us to do: prophesy, cast out demons, and do mighty works in his name. Christ would go on to say for us not to rejoice because we can do mighty works and the spirits are subject to us but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. 2

Don’t you see? We cannot know nor love God without taking this wicked heart out and replacing it with heart from God. Nothing good comes out of a heart that was born into sin and has been sinning continuously.

Some theologians teach that faith to believe in God comes from some tiny little deposit of good that was given to all human beings. Well, I would accept that explanation a hundred times over than we are all basically good and can believe and trust in God out of our own strength. Because the latter is simply not happening. Whatever you may think, that faith produces a new heart or it’s a new heart that produces faith, something absolutely good has to start the process of faith because faith (inherently good) does not come from a wicked and depraved heart. The Bible makes that clear.

Choosing God is not like what you choose for breakfast, whom you have chosen to marry or whom you voted for in the last election. For you to believe, trust, love, and choose God, something supernatural has to occur and this is by the work of the Spirit alone by giving us a brand new heart from the Father all made possible by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ alone.  It is only then can we look upon Him with clear eyes, hear him with functioning ears, even taste him with new taste buds to know that he is good or even smell the aroma of Christ on each of us who are made fully alive by God.

When we have a new heart and His Spirit within us, it is then we can truthfully and fully be obedient to God. First, Christ fulfilled the law for each of us who believe and trust in him. Now, it’s not that we have to obey the laws of God, it is that we get to obey Him.

Don’t believe obedience requires a new heart? See what God says about it.

Ezekiel 36:24–28 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.  I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.  You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

It is only then that God removes us from death and despair; takes the blood of Christ and washes us clean from all unrighteousness 3; give us a brand new soften heart and a new spirit that causes you to walk in His statutes and being careful to obey His rules.

Because of what He has done, we now get to dwell in the house of the Lord forever 4 because we are His people and He is our God!

Notes:

  1. Genesis 6:8
  2. Luke 10:20
  3. Titus 3:3-7; 2 Corinthians 5:21
  4. Psalm 23:6

Mark 9:38-41 God Alone Over All Who Would Believe In His Name

Mark 9:38-41 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.
1. How many other churches are in our town?
2. Do they love Jesus just like we do?
3. Is it okay that they do church differently?

Now Sings My Soul: Psalm 23:2a He makes me lie down in green pastures

My Lord,

You are the Prince of Peace. Where you are, there I find satisfaction of my wearied soul and find perfect peace where I can truly rest.

Apart from you, I die and I perish. Away from you, I am only tormented by confusion and despair. Without you, there is nothing but destructions by my own hands and by everything around me.

But you, O Lord, call me to enter through you and abide in you. Once I am in your good graces, you take the back-breaking weight of sin off me and place it upon you. Once more, you lay your light, featherweight righteousness upon me. I am no longer under crushing condemnation nor your furious wrath but yet, within the protection of your great arm and the coolness within your great fortress, that is the Rock of Ages.

Once more, you are the truth. While my heart strays and wanders from you, you are the Good Shepherd who would gladly chase me down and bring home over and over again. Because you alone have the words of eternal life, I have nowhere else to go but to come home with you.

I thank you for healing my broken heart and mind. I thank you for opening my eyes, ears, and mouth of your glory and goodness. I thank you for giving me strength for you are Christ Jesus my Lord forever.

Romans 8:30a Predestined

And here is love: Romans 8:30a And those whom he predestined …

We have now established that God loved us not just for the sake of love by itself. It is a warm and sentiment notion to be sure but when it comes to God, it is not just simply His love as though he can be reduced to one feeling. Likewise, while his love remains supreme, it isn’t all that he is. When we speak of God and receive God and take him as our own, we get everything about him. And God is love but God is also holy, righteous, just, merciful, kind, gracious, patient, all-knowing (omniscient), present everywhere (omnipresent), and almighty (omnipotent) just to name a few. Not only that, God is unlike any other being ever in that he is one hundred percent of everything that he is. Furthermore, he doesn’t have to give up one part of himself in order to be the fullest in another. He is maxed-out love, righteousness, holiness, and merciful.

That is the glory of God.

And we know that God saved us because He is glorious. In other words, He didn’t have to give up something about what makes Him fully Him. It’s like getting into a relationship but giving up a part of your personality, a part of who you are, in order to be with someone you have affections for. “I like this dude but he only like quiet, mousy girls so I am going to suppress my boldness when I’m around him.” “Oh I really like this girl but she doesn’t like guys who are really into God so I am going to give that up.” It’s like a terrible romantic comedy. You laugh but it happens in real life more than I want.

God saved us because He simply saw us and He chose us to be with Him forever.

Ephesians 1:3-10 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Take a look at this passage: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world…” Paul is exhorting us that God is blessed and God has definitely blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. However, for our sake and our thinking is contained within the element of time (while God is not), those blessings did not start with us, within the family we were born, the place in the world where we grew up, nor the people we know although we do know God purposely chooses all of that for us so that we “should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.” 1.  And with the essence of time, it doesn’t necessarily even start with the cross of Christ—although all of God’s glorious aforementioned attributes definitely are on the fullest display at that cross. 2 It started before the foundations of the earth were laid and even before time and space were spoken into existence. It started before Genesis 1:1.

There is no doubt we grow up in a world that certainly celebrates self-accomplishments especially when you have come from nothing. We love the pull-up-from-our-bootstraps stories. Just be born, work hard, and surely good things will come your way. We sometimes think that God loves and adores us not because of everything He has done for us but rather what we have done for him lately. And that is how most of us understand our salvation in Christ. It has to be because of what I did first. Why else would he love me?

Or flip it the other way: I have done so well all of my life. I did the right things. I voted the right way. I am fighting for social justice. I am on the right side of history. See me! See that I am good. God loves me, saves me, and will bless me because I do good! Despite the fact that Romans 4 adamantly declares that we do not put God into our debt.

The argument of “From eternity past, God saw me and saw that I choose him.” We know that Romans 5:8 says otherwise.

Jesus said it distinctly, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” 3

We are saved for His glory. And this started with Him choosing us from a long, long time ago. Not because He predestined us to lest we believe that we are saved by election alone.

From eternity past, God saw me in my wickedness, my shame, my sin, and trespasses and just simply declared that I want him in my family. And I am willing to send my Son and my Spirit in order to get him.

Forgive the conjuncture but I always imagined it this way:

Father: I love you

Son: I love you

Spirit: I love you so much

Father: You know who else I love so much.

Son: Joseph

Spirit: I was just about to say that.

Father: Oh I see him now. Yikes, Joseph sins a lot. I mean. Look at him: he’s working in pornography while being married with a kid.

Son: I know. But I still want him with us.

Father: You know what it will take?

Son: Of course.

Father: You ready?

Son: Always. Spirit, you ready?

Spirit: exhales slowly I am ready!

Father: Let’s do this.

Son: Father, I love you.

Father: Son, I love you. Spirit, I love you.

Spirit: I know. I love you.

Father: Let’s do it.

BOOM!

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

And you know the rest of the story.

You might ask me, “How do we know that we are chosen? How do we know we are elected or predestined.” Old, white dead guys will tell you to knock it off! Stop trying to get a hold of salvation at the wrong end. Election, much like all of salvation, belongs to God alone for He alone is mighty to save.

I recall a conversation where this lady boldly declared, “I have two sons. And no matter what they do in this life, if one is predestined and the other is not, then only the one who is predestined will go to heaven.” Again, salvation is not because of predestination.

Recall the cry of the tax collector who cried out to God, “Have mercy on me, a sinner!”, whom Christ declared justified.

Lady, if both of your kids know and love God, if both of your kids walk with Him in their days and keep his commandments not because they are super trying hard but by the power and grace of His Almighty Spirit through the broken and blood drained body of the Son of God, then my friends, I can almost assure you that both of your kids are saved to God.

God’s maxed out love is so tremendous and wonderful that sin, death, hell, Satan, nor his demons would be able to stop Him from rescuing his people. That is the very best love.

Notes:

  1. Acts 17:26-28
  2. Psalm 85:10
  3. John 15:16

Golgotha

Let us muse upon the fact that Jesus was conducted without the gates of the city. It was the common place of death. That little rising ground, which perhaps was called Golgotha, the place of a skull, from its somewhat resembling the crown of a man's skull, was the common place of execution. It was one of Death's castles; here he stored his gloomiest trophies; he was the grim lord of that stronghold. Our great hero, the destroyer of Death, bearded the lion in his den, slew the monster in his own castle, and dragged the dragon captive from his own den. Methinks Death thought it a splendid triumph when he saw the Master impaled and bleeding in the dominions of destruction; little did he know that the grave was to be rifled, and himself destroyed, by that crucified Son of man.

Charles Spurgeon. The Procession of Sorrow. Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. 1 March 1863.