Ephesians Pt8 God is in control of everything

Ephesians 3:14-21(ESV)14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The church at Ephesus was dear to Paul. His ministry among them spanned three years. The church there began with just twelve believers (Acts 19:7), but through faithful effort they experienced amazing growth. Knowing the success in Ephesus, Paul desired them to remain focused on the Lord, while maintaining their priorities. Verses 14-17 speaks about the Holy spirit. The indwelling of Christ is not a consequence of the gift of the Spirit; it is identical with it, for the office of the Holy Spirit is to dwell in us and help us to bear the likeness of Christ.

Colossians 1:27(HCSB)27 God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

The promise of the Holy Spirit is the one who dwells within you. The Spirit of Christ.

John 14:15-18(HCSB)15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.

The same Spirit that dwelt in Jesus and raised Him from the dead, dwells within us and this is our hope of glory.
Romans 8:8-11(HCSB). 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.

If I were to ask you to describe God what would you say? That He is Spirit? Truth? Love?

Transcendence describes how God is above or superior to everything in creation, and immanence describes how God is involved in creation. Some people see them as contradictory—how can God be outside and above everything and yet be involved in everything?

God is higher above creation than we can even imagine, Look at the verse again: Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think

What is it that God can do? He can do exceeding (the Greek word is “hyper” as in hyper-drive) abundantly more than we can ask or even think. In other words God can do way more than even the most complex thoughts our minds can muster. Now if He can do more than we can imagine then He must be way more than we can imagine.

Think about some of these verses:

Isaiah 55:8-9(HCSB)8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.”This is the Lord’s declaration.9 “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 40:13-14(HCSB)13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or who gave Him His counsel?14 Who did He consult with? Who gave Him understanding and taught Him the paths of justice? Who taught Him knowledge and showed Him the way of understanding?

The difference between God and man is as great as the distance between outer space and earth—it’s infinite! God is beyond teaching. He doesn’t ask us what we think, and He doesn’t seek our approval or our advice.

God is independent from and above everything else: He doesn’t need to eat or drink, He doesn’t need oxygen, He can’t die, He doesn’t age, He can’t be sick or injured, He doesn’t fail, He doesn’t seek wisdom, and He isn’t fooled. He always accomplishes His purposes and He knows everything that has ever happened and ever will happen. He ordains it!

He is superior to everything and exceedingly far above it. You can’t explain Him or define Him even if you used every word in every language and tried it for eternity. By His own definition He is: “I AM THAT I AM.”

Exodus 3:13-14(HCSB)13 Then Moses asked God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them: The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what should I tell them?” 14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”

God is above all, Yet, God still indwells His people and is active in His creation

Colossians 1:17(HCSB)He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.

Hebrews 1:3(HCSB)The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

The relationship between God and His saints is a very personal and intimate one. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14(HCSB)The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son[c] from the Father, full of grace and truth.; the Spirit fills and seals us; the Father has called us and holds us in His hand (John 10:29(HCSB) My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.).

This God who’s so high above us is yet involved with us. No one and no thing has any life, movement, or being without it coming from the transcendent God!

His involvement is for His own eternal glory

The Westminister Shorter Catechism asks the question, “What is the chief end of man?” Many of us know the answer. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” While this is not a phrase drawn directly from Scripture, the wisdom behind it surely is. The Bible tells us with great clarity that man was created in order to bring glory to God. Thus the chief end of Christians and of the church is to bring glory to God.

There’s a trend in modern Christianity that basically says the purpose of God is to satisfy man. He reigns in heaven so that we can have a wonderful and happy life. He saves us so that we can have assurance in the afterlife and peace in the present one. Most people don’t come right out and say it like that, but that whole idea that God is here to love me and serve me is at the heart of their doctrine.

Why do we go and witness? Is our primary reason so that people can be saved? Or is it that God is glorified? Do you see the difference? We’re not going to help God out—He doesn’t need anything from us. We go and witness because God is worthy to be praised and our witness brings Him glory.

And when we think of missions in this way there’s no chance for failure as long as we preach. “Unto Him be the glory.” That’s the whole point of our entire existence—He must increase and we must decrease. John 3:30(HCSB)30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” And on earth this glory is in the church—that is, He is glorified by the fact that He loves us and has redeemed us. Remember when Jesus prayed for the disciples and for everyone who would believe through their word?

John 17:23(HCSB)I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.

God is Sovereign and His providence

Sovereignty describes God’s absolute control over everything, always and forever. He is not dependent on anything outside of Himself, never has been, never will be. (This is why His creature, man, cannot initiate his own salvation by his, man’s choice).

Providence is from latin, pro videre, seeing in advance, and also means God really establishes, ordains whatever comes to pass.

Just suppose next Sunday Day morning you were showering and listening to the radio. The newscaster announced that the night before at exactly midnight every house of prostitution, every porn shop, every gambling casino, and every house of any kind of sin very mysteriously collapsed and were totally destroyed. Your reaction would probably be, “Praise the Lord.” When you went to Sunday School somebody would ask you, “How do you account for that? What do you think happened?” I am sure you would reply, “It was the hand of God. God was surely in that.” Of course, you’d be right. The unbelievers may not accept your explanation, and the newspapers and TV newscasters may be inventing all kinds of theories, but you would attribute the whole thing to God and rejoice in His sovereign work.

Now just suppose the following Sunday morning you were again shaving and the same newscaster said, “Last night at exactly midnight every single Bible-believing church in the country very mysteriously collapsed and was totally destroyed.” I wonder what you would say then? Would most Christians say, “Bless the Lord,” or would they say, “It was the devil”?

Why would anyone blame – or rather, credit – God for the first situation (the destroying of the bad places), and then credit the devil with the destruction of the churches? If we understood the Scripture clearly, especially texts like Romans 11:36(HCSB)36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. and Romans 8:28(HCSB)28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. we would be forced to acknowledge the hand of God both times. God sovereignly controls every single thing that happens, whether it be “good” or “bad.” God is involved, in one way or another, in every event and each minute detail of that event. This is what we mean by “The Sovereign Providence of God.” If this is not true, then we really have no sure hope for our lives in this confused generation.

When people blame all the good on God and all the bad on the devil, they are guilty of an ancient heresy called “dualism.” Dualism basically sees God and the devil (good and bad) as two independent and sovereign powers struggling for ultimate control of this world. We earnestly hope “our side” wins, but at times it does not look too good. Unfortunately most Christians today are guilty of believing that very heresy. This is especially true of the charismatic movement as well as anyone else that emphasizes health and wealth as the birthright of every Christian, and blames the devil for everything that hinders our “personal happiness”. This is the heresy of dualism at its worst.

Why do sincere Christians do this? Why do they blame the good on God and the bad on the devil, unconsciously denying the sovereignty of God? It is probably because they are trying to “protect” God. They are trying to make it easier to believe and love Him by exempting Him from anything that appears to be bad and crediting Him with everything that appears to be good. A young nurse who worked in the emergency ward of a hospital told me that when anyone from a particular church in that town had an accident, the pastor would rush down to the hospital. His first words to the victim and family were, “Remember, God had nothing to do with this.” I suppose the poor man was afraid the people might desert the faith. If you’ll just think that preacher’s statement through for a moment, you can see it is ridiculous. The man may have been trying to “protect God,” but in reality he was laying the groundwork for despair and unbelief. He was leaving the injured person totally in the hands of either Satan or blind cruel fate. He was unconsciously moving God right out of the picture when the person needed most the assurance of God’s sovereign control.

We must stop looking at life as positive or negative. This is not buddhism there are no positive and negative energy.

God not only has a plan, but He also carries out that plan. God is always in total control of all things and is constantly at work in accomplishing His plan.
Isaiah 10:5-11(HCSB)Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger—the staff in their hands is My wrath.6 I will send him against a godless nation; I will command him to go against a people destined for My rage, to take spoils, to plunder, and to trample them down like clay in the streets. 7 But this is not what he intends; this is not what he plans. It is his intent to destroy and to cut off many nations. 8 For he says, “Aren’t all my commanders kings? 9  Isn’t Calno like Carchemish? Isn’t Hamath like Arpad? Isn’t Samaria like Damascus? 10 As my hand seized the idolatrous kingdoms, whose idols exceeded those of Jerusalem and Samaria, 11 and as I did to Samaria and its idols will I not also do to Jerusalem and its idols?”

Sometimes God’s plan calls for revival and there will be a day of Pentecost when thousands of souls will be swept into the Kingdom of God. There are other times that His plan calls for judgment. Isaiah calls God’s judgment His “strange work,” but it is nonetheless God’s work. Just as there will be a day of Pentecost when thousands are saved, so there will be a day of judgment when a universal flood sweeps nearly the whole human race into everlasting damnation. We must see that God is just as much the author of one as He is the other. Whether it is Pentecost or whether it is the Flood, whether they are the events of Acts 2 or the events of Genesis 6, God is in total control and is working out His own plan. The rain and full harvest, as well as the drought and empty barns, are from the hand of the same sovereign God. We must learn to praise Him under both circumstances (Psalm 34:1(HCSB)I will praise the Lord at all times;His praise will always be on my lips.

In working out His own plans, God uses everybody, even the devil. Now at first that shocks some people: “What! God uses the devil?” That is exactly right. Everybody, even the devil, serves God’s purposes. Remember Satan is God’s Satan, he is His puppet. He cannot do anything that God does not allow. If he could then that would make him sovereign and not God. Now a servant may serve through gritted teeth, and he may hate his servitude; but he is, nonetheless, a servant. So it is with the devil. The devil has never done one thing out of love or obedience to God. He has never done one thing in order to knowingly bring glory to God. Everything the devil does, he does because he hates God and because he is trying to frustrate the purposes of God. However, in the end, everything the devil does will surely further the purposes of God. If ever there was a born loser, it is the devil, himself. In the final day, it will be shown that the devil never won a single time. And that includes the Garden of Eden!

There is alot of truth in this classic statement from one of the Puritans. “What God sovereignly decrees in eternity, man will always demand in time.” Man’s “free will” will always freely choose the very thing that God has sovereignly ordained and God’s purpose will be fulfilled; just as surely, man will be responsible for his every act of sin. I know of no passage that sets forth this truth as clearly as Matthew 27. The whole chapter is loaded with vain attempts by men to deny personal responsibility. First, Judas tried to deny his responsibility for the death of Christ by pleading Christ’s innocence and giving the thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests and elders. They, in turn, replied, “What is that to us? That was your responsibility.” Was it not their duty to be certain that Christ was, indeed, guilty and worthy of death? Certainly it was!

We are not responsible for the results of what God does with our acts; we are totally responsible for the acts themselves. That, and that alone, will be the basis upon which God will deal with us.

An elderly lady was praying out loud in front of an open window. She had neither food nor money, and she was pleading with God to supply her with something to eat. Two boys heard her and decided to mock her faith. They went down to the store and bought a loaf of bread and a quart of milk. Then they stealthily put the milk and bread through the window. When the lady opened her eyes and saw the food, she praised God for hearing and answering her prayers. The boys stuck their heads up above the window sill and said, “Woman, you are stupid. God did not send those things. We put them there, and we did it just to prove to you how dumb you are. God did not bring that milk and bread; we brought them.”

What would you say in a case like that? The lady smiled, thanked the boys for the food, and then said, “Thank You God for getting me these groceries and getting the Devil to pay for it!” I am sure you see the difference. When the mailman brings an electric bill for two hundred dollars, you do not get upset with him. He did not send it; all he did was deliver it. This is the principle that we must see in all of the difficult things that happen. Thomas Watson was a Puritan with the ability to put great truth into short, concise statements. If you understand the following quote, you have the whole message: “God always has a hand in the action where the sin is, but He never has a hand in the sin of the action.” It does not matter what happened, where it happened, when it happened, or to whom it happened. If it happened, then God had a hand in it; He controlled it. However, God is not guilty of the sin or hatred in the hearts of men that caused the sin in the situation.

Few people realize how important this particular principle is in our Christian life. We are told in Scripture to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God” and to submit to Him. However, we are also told to “resist the devil” and never to yield to his wiles and temptations. The problem lies in knowing and recognizing the difference between these two things. Many Christians, under the guise of “resisting the devil,” may well be actually fighting the sovereign providence of God. Other believers, under the guise of piously “turning it all over to God,” may be deliberately ignoring their personal responsibility to obey clear principles and fight temptation. Until we learn to see both the hand of Satan and the hand of God, we may be fighting God when we think we’re “resisting Satan,” and vice versa.

Isaiah 45:6-7 (ESV)That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

Even though all sickness and affliction are under God’s control and are part of His purposes, it is NOT true that they are all chastisement for sin. Some affliction is definitely chastisement for sin and is sent to bring us to repentance and effect specific change in us; however, that is not true all of the time. Sometimes God allows His people to suffer just to demonstrate the power of His grace. It is wrong for a Christian to ever feel that God is “getting even” and punishing him when affliction comes. God only punishes sin in one of two places: he either punished it in Christ and the penal debt is totally paid, or else He punishes it in the sinner in hell. Even when affliction comes into our life as chastisement, it is never penal [that is, from God as judge], but the chastisement is always remedial [that is, from a loving heavenly Father]. Our Father teaches us through affliction, but He never punishes (penally) us.

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Ephesians Pt6 Jesus, Apostles and Prophets

Ephesians 2:17-22(HCSB)17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

It is only in response to the cross of Christ (called faith in Ephesians 2:8(HCSB)8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, that peace exists vertically between humans and God and horizontally between humans. This new society, called the church, is depicted at the end of chapter 2.

The church is pictured as a nation (“fellow citizens,”), a family (“a household”), and a “building.” This new building is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” The purpose of the church is for believers to be “built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit”.

David S. Dockery, “The Pauline Letters,” in Holman Concise Bible Commentary, ed. David S. Dockery (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 578.

Jesus is the cornerstone, The cornerstone (or foundation stone) concept is derived from the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.

Isaiah 28:14-18(HCSB)14 Therefore hear the word of the Lord,  you mockers who rule this people in Jerusalem.15 For you said, “We have cut a deal with Death, and we have made an agreement with Sheol; when the overwhelming scourge passes through, it will not touch us, because we have made falsehood our refuge and have hidden behind treachery.” 16 Therefore the Lord God said: “Look, I have laid a stone  in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable. 17 And I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the mason’s level.” Hail will sweep away the false refuge, and water will flood your hiding place. 18 Your deal with Death will be dissolved, and your agreement with Sheol will not last. When the overwhelming scourge passes through, you will be trampled. 

Romans 9:33(HCSB) As it is written: Look! I am putting a stone in Zion to stumble over and a rock to trip over, yet the one who believes on Him will not be put to shame.

1 Corinthians 3:11(HCSB) For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:4-10(ESV)As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious,  and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 

Jesus is the cornerstone and the church is built off of it and the foundation of Apostles and Prophets.

In a general sense, a prophet is a person who speaks God’s truth to others. The English word prophet comes from the Greek word prophetes, which can mean “one who speaks forth” or “advocate.”Prophets had the task of faithfully speaking God’s Word to the people. They were instrumental in guiding the nation of Israel and establishing the church.A true prophet of God will be committed to speaking God’s truth. He or she will never contradict God’s revealed Word. A true prophet will say, with the prophet Micaiah just before his fateful confrontation with Ahab, 2 Chronicles 18:13 “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what my God says”.

PROPHETS – GOD SENT MESSENGERS TO DECLARE HIS WILL

DEUTERONOMY 18:18 (HCSB)I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.

The canonical prophets, whose books make up over a quarter of the Old Testament, were called by God to be organs and channels of revelation. They were men of God who stood in his council. Jeremiah 23:22(HCSB)22 If they had really stood in My council, they would have enabled My people to hear My words and would have turned them back from their evil ways and their evil deeds. , knew his mind, and were enabled to declare it. God the Holy Spirit spoke in and through them (2 Peter 1:19-21(HCSB)19 So we have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 First of all, you should know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
They knew he was doing so; hence they dared to start messages with “this is what the Lord says” or “an oracle of the Lord,” and to present Yahweh himself as the speaker of what they were saying.

Prophecy involved prediction (foretelling), but usually this was done in a context of declaring God’s warnings and exhortations to his covenant people here and now (forth-telling). The predictions had to do with the coming of God’s king and kingdom after purging judgments; the prophets’ chief concern was to exhort to repentance, in hope that for the present the judgments might be averted. They were primarily reformers, enforcing God’s law and recalling God’s people to the covenant faithfulness from which they should never have lapsed.

With their preaching to the nation went prayer for the nation: they talked to God about people just as earnestly as they talked to people about God, and they fulfilled a unique ministry as intercessors (Exod. 32:30–32 [Moses]; 1 Sam. 7:5–9; 12:19–23 [Samuel]; 2 Kings 19:4 [Isaiah]; cf. Jer. 7:16; 11:14; 14:11).

False prophets were a bane to Israel. Professionally linked with Israel’s organized worship, they said what people wanted to hear and spoke their own dreams and opinions rather than words of God (1 Kings 22:1–28; Jer. 23:9–40; Ezek. 13).

In the New Testament, one book, Revelation, announces itself as a true and trustworthy prophecy, received directly from God (actually, from God the Father through Jesus Christ: Rev. 1:1–3; 22:12–20). The ministry of the apostles brought instruction directly from God to his people, just as the Old Testament prophetic ministry had done, though the form of presentation was different. Prophets of the New Testament period were linked with the apostles in the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20; 3:5) as expositors of the fulfillment in Christ of Old Testament hopes (Rom. 16:25–27).

J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993).

Of course, not everyone who “speaks forth” a message is actually a prophet of God. The Bible warns against false prophets who claim to speak for God but who actually deceive the people they purport to inform. King Ahab kept 400 such false prophets in his employ to tell him what he wanted to hear (2 Chronicles 18:1-7(HCSB)Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honor in abundance, and he made an alliance with Ahab through marriage. 2 Then after some years, he went down to visit Ahab in Samaria. Ahab sacrificed many sheep and cattle for him and for the people who were with him. Then he persuaded him to march up to Ramoth-gilead, 3 for Israel’s King Ahab asked Judah’s King Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to Ramoth-gilead?” He replied to him, “I am as you are, my people as your people; we will be with you in the battle.” 4 But Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “First, please ask what the Lord’s will is.”5 So the king of Israel gathered the prophets, 400 men, and asked them, “Should we go to Ramoth-gilead for war or should I refrain?” They replied, “March up, and God will hand it over to the king.” 6 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Isn’t there a prophet of Yahweh here anymore? Let’s ask him.” 7 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man who can ask Yahweh, but I hate him because he never prophesies good about me, but only disaster. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.” “The king shouldn’t say that,” Jehoshaphat replied.

2 Timothy 4:3(HCSB)3 For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new.
In the New Testament we have many warnings against false prophets. Jesus taught, Matthew 7:15 (ESV)“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves”. He later noted that, in the end times, Matthew 24:24(ESV)“false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect”. To avoid being led astray, we must always “test the spirits to see whether they are from God”
1 John 4:1(HCSB)Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

The word apostle means “one who is sent out.” In the New Testament, there are two primary usages of the word apostle. The first is in specifically referring to the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. The second is in generically referring to other individuals who are sent out to be messengers/ambassadors of Jesus Christ. From the definition of the word, the closest thing today to an apostle, in the general sense, is a missionary. A missionary is a follower of Christ who is sent out with the specific mission of proclaiming the gospel. A missionary is an ambassador of Christ to people who have not heard the good news. However, to prevent confusion, it is likely best to not use the term apostle to refer to any position in the church today. The vast majority of occurrences of the word apostle or apostles in the New Testament refer to the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ.

Not everyone is a prophet or apostle. Apostles equip, build, and plant churches and help them to be healthy. Apostles know how to build the church with Jesus as the foundation. They are given by the ascended Christ. They draw all the other gifts back to building the local church. Apostles lay the hidden foundations. No one ever says you have lovely foundations in your house! If apostolic ministry is working, then people see a glorious church, although they might not always realize what the foundations are.

The Church is built on apostles and prophets who work together. A prophet is not someone who sometimes prophesies. They are big picture men. People who catch the Church up to the bigger framework of God’s unfolding plans in history.

Jesus is the cornerstone; everything else fits to him. Jesus is the center. Apostolic ministry sniffs out legalism and teaches grace. Apostolic ministry is missional. The great days of mission are before us as a movement. Apostolic ministry is concerned about the poor.

Ephesians 2:20-22(HCSB) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Instructing the Christians in Corinth to flee from sexual immorality, the apostle Paul exhorted, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20(HCSB)18 Run from sexual immorality! “Every sin a person can commit is outside the body.” On the contrary, the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. 19 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body. Indeed, God the Father created our bodies, God the Son redeemed them, and God the Holy Spirit indwells them. This makes our body the very temple of the Holy Spirit of God.

Those who do not belong to Christ do not have the Spirit of Christ residing in them. Romans 8:9(HCSB)9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Thus, their bodies are not a temple of the Holy Spirit. Clearly, then, the greatest thing we can do for our bodies is to make them into a temple for God’s Spirit.

As the Holy Spirit resides in us, therefore, we are to honor God with our bodies as they “are not [our] own,” as Paul said. We have indeed been bought with a price. And it was not gold or silver or other perishable things by which we were redeemed; it was with the precious, unblemished blood of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:18-19(HCSB)18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.. Ordained by God before the foundation of the world Acts 2:23(HCSB)23 Though He was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. Christ’s blood purchased us out of the slavery of sin and set us free forever. And as Christian’s bodies are God’s temple, we are to use them to glorify God.

If God meant simply to convey the idea that the Spirit lives within the believer, He could well have used words such as “home,” “house,” or “residence.” But by choosing the word “temple” to describe the Spirit’s dwelling, He conveys the idea that our bodies are the shrine, or the sacred place, in which the Spirit not only lives, but is worshiped, revered, and honored. Therefore, how we behave, think and speak, and what we let into the temple through our eyes and ears becomes critically important as well, for every thought, word and deed is in His view. When we live by the Spirit, we will no longer gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Galatians 5:16(HCSB)16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Ephesians Pt 5 Racism, Circumcision and Reconciliation

Ephesians 2:11-16(HCSB)11 So then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh—called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcised,” which is done in the flesh by human hands. 12 At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. 14 For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In His flesh, 15 He made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. 16 He did this so that He might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross and put the hostility to death by it.

There is a clear movement from the bloodlines of ethnic separation to the unifying bloodline of Christ in Ephesians 2:11–16. We have to be sure to see the biblical foundation for this way of thinking, and for this Christ-exalting vision of oneness and harmony among alienated and hostile ethnic groups.

In the Old Testament, God divided humanity into two “racial” groups: Jews and Gentiles. God’s intent was for the Jews to be a kingdom of priests, ministering to the Gentile nations. Instead, for the most part, the Jews became proud of their status and despised the Gentiles. Jesus Christ put an end to this, destroying the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:14). All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination are insults to the work of Christ on the cross.

What Paul is addressing in these verses is the centuries-long divide between ethnic Jews and all the other ethnic groups of the Near East called Gentiles. God himself had chosen Israel from all the peoples of the world.
Genesis 12:1–3(HCSB)The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great,and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you. }He had focused almost all of his special, saving, self-revealing work on this Jewish people for two thousand years (from Abraham to Christ). He allowed the nations to walk in their own ways. Acts 14:16(HCSB) In past generations He allowed all the nations to go their own way. And yet he had told Abraham, the Father of the Jews, that through him and his offspring, “all the nations of the earth would be blessed”.
Genesis 12:3(HCSB)I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you

There is a dividing line between the era of bloody separation and the era of blood-bought reconciliation and that line is the cross of Christ, and in this text that line is drawn between verses 12 and 13. Ephesians 2:12-13(HCSB)12 At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah.

God aims to create one new people in Christ who are reconciled to each other across racial lines. Not strangers. Not aliens. No enmity. Not far off. Fellow citizens of one Christian “city of God.” One temple for a habitation of God. And he did this at the cost of his Son’s life. We love to dwell on our reconciliation with God through the death of his Son. And well we should. It is precious beyond measure—to have peace with God Romans 5:9-10(HCSB)9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life!

Hear this! God ordained the death of his Son to reconcile foreign people groups to each other in one body in Christ. This too was the design of the death of Christ. Think on this: Christ died to take enmity and anger and disgust and jealousy and self-pity and fear and envy and hatred and malice and indifference away from your heart toward all other persons who are in Christ by faith—whatever the race whatever the culture!

These designations,these racial divides as Paul points out, are fleshly and say nothing about the heart condition of those who partake in them. In other words, the Jews were causing division within the church over whether or not men ought to be circumcised in the flesh. In Acts 16:3(HCSB)3 Paul wanted Timothy to go with him, so he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, since they all knew that his father was a Greek, Paul had Timothy, circumcised. Timothy was half-Jewish, and Paul circumcised him so that he would not be a hindrance as they sought to reach out to unsaved Jews. Although the Bible did not require Timothy to be circumcised, it was something he did willing for the sake of reaching the Jews. However, as Paul states without a doubt in Galatians, circumcision does not aid either salvation or sanctification in Christ. Of course, the incident with Timothy does not directly apply today because Christians need not be circumcised in order to reach unbelievers, whether Jews or Gentiles. Philippians 3:(HCSB)2 Watch out for “dogs,” watch out for evil workers, watch out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and do not put confidence in the flesh— 4 although I once also had confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; 6 regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless. 7 But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.

Paul being the good Jew that he was, gave his credentials in verses 4-6, and before that explains that it is confidence in the flesh. After his credentials he says they are worthless like dung compared to knowing Christ.
Paul take sit further in Galatians when he speaks of those who are disturbing the pure gospel saying circumcision is the way to holiness by cutting it all off and be super holy!
Galatians 5:1-12(HCSB)Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Take note! I, Paul, tell you that if you get yourselves circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all. 3 Again I testify to every man who gets himself circumcised that he is obligated to keep the entire law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything; what matters is faith working through love. 7 You were running well. Who prevented you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion did not come from the One who called you. 9 A little yeast leavens the whole lump of dough. 10 I have confidence in the Lord you will not accept any other view. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty. 11 Now brothers, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated!

The principle of circumcision is a matter of the heart not the flesh. In severe contrast to the racial bigotry of the Jews of Paul’s day, the circumcision that God is concerned with is the circumcision of the heart.
Deuteronomy 10:16(HCSB)16 Therefore, circumcise your hearts and don’t be stiff-necked any longer.;
Deuteronomy 30:6(HCSB)6 The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants, and you will love Him with all your heart and all your soul so that you will live.
Jeremiah 4:4(HCSB)Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts, men of Judah and residents of Jerusalem. Otherwise, My wrath will break out like fire and burn with no one to extinguish it because of your evil deeds.

In fact, the sign of circumcision was really nothing more than that: a sign.
Romans 4:11(HCSB)11 And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make him the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, so that righteousness may be credited to them also. When a Jewish person was circumcised in the flesh, it was an outward sign of what their parents hoped would become an inward reality. Though the sign was performed outwardly, the reality was manifested inwardly. This is why Paul is able to say, in Romans 2:28-29 (HCSB)28 For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, and true circumcision is not something visible in the flesh. 29 On the contrary, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart—by the Spirit, not the letter. That man’s praise is not from men but from God. Hence, no one can claim a more favorable status in the eyes of God due to any sign made in the flesh, but rather the reality that is manifested in the heart.

Furthermore, those who would hope, by their circumcised flesh, to call themselves by the title “circumcision” are without warrant unless they are truly circumcised of the heart. There is nothing efficacious about the outward symbol in and of itself. The animosity that existed between the Jews and the Gentiles was so profound that the gospel was often hindered from reaching the Gentiles abroad. Paul’s message is primarily about the gospel and how Christ broke through those barriers to reach the Gentiles.

Paul is discussing the role of the Old Testament Law as it relates to Christianity. He argues that Jewish circumcision is only an outward sign of being set apart to God. However, if the heart is sinful, then physical circumcision is of no avail. A circumcised body and a sinful heart are at odds with each other. Rather than focus on external rites, Paul focuses on the condition of the heart. Using circumcision as a metaphor, he says that only the Holy Spirit can purify a heart and set us apart to God. Ultimately, circumcision cannot make a person right with God; the Law is not enough. A person’s heart must change. Paul calls this change “circumcision of the heart.”

This concept was not original with the apostle Paul. As a Jew trained in the Law of Moses, he was certainly aware of this discussion from Deuteronomy 30. There, the Lord used the same metaphor to communicate His desire for a holy people: “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:6). Physical circumcision was a sign of Israel’s covenant with God; circumcision of the heart, therefore, would indicate Israel’s being set apart to love God fully, inside and out.

John the Baptist warned the Pharisees against taking pride in their physical heritage and boasting in their circumcision: Matthew 3:9(HCSB)9 And don’t presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones!  How exactly do you suppose they boasted in it? How did they check?

True “children of Abraham” are those who follow Abraham’s example of believing God (Genesis 15:6). Physical circumcision does not make one a child of God; faith does. Believers in Jesus Christ can truly say they are children of “Father Abraham.” “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29).

God has always wanted more from His people than just external conformity to a set of rules. He has always wanted them to possess a heart to love, know and follow Him. That’s why God is not concerned with a circumcision of the flesh. Even in the Old Testament, God’s priority was a spiritual circumcision of the heart: Jeremiah 4:4(HCSB)Circumcise yourselves to the Lord; remove the foreskin of your hearts, men of Judah and residents of Jerusalem. Otherwise, My wrath will break out like fireand burn with no one to extinguish it because of your evil deeds..

Both Old and New Testaments focus on the need for repentance and inward change in order to be right with God. In Jesus, the Law has been fulfilled (Matthew 5:17). Through Him, a person can be made right with God and receive eternal life (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). As Paul said, true circumcision is a matter of the heart, performed by the Spirit of God. God has reconciled us to Himself regardless of our race, ethnicity, gender, heritage, location, or nationality. He chose us and none for that matters, therefore none of that should matter to us IF we are in Christ.

Ephesians 2:14-16(HCSB)14 For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In His flesh, 15 He made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. 16 He did this so that He might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross and put the hostility to death by it.

Ephesians Pt4 Regeneration precedes faith

Ephesians 2: 1-10(HCSB)And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

In verses 1-3 Paul reminds the church in Ephesus of their former spiritual state prior to coming to faith in Christ. Christ is alive because of His righteousness, but we are dead, because of our sins. After a person is regenerated, that person cooperates by exercising faith and trust. But the first step is the work of God and of God alone. Grace focuses on the forgiveness needed because of the current state we are in. It is a gift that is not earned, but it is more than that. We didn’t simply live in a way not to earn salvation; we lived in a way characterized by fighting, kicking, and screaming against receiving the gift. That is how our lives were characterized.

The reason we do not cooperate with regenerating grace before it acts upon us and in us is because we cannot. We cannot because we are spiritually dead. We can no more assist the Holy Spirit in the quickening of our souls to spiritual life than Lazarus could help Jesus raise him for the dead. Dead men do not cooperate with grace. Unless regeneration takes place first, there is no possibility of faith. Regeneration precedes faith.
Regeneration is seen first of all as a supernatural work of God. Regeneration is the divine work of God the Holy Spirit upon the minds and souls of fallen people, by which the Spirit quickens those who are spiritually dead and makes them spiritually alive. This supernatural work rescues that person from his bondage to sin and his moral inability to incline himself towards the things of God. Regeneration, by being a supernatural work, is obviously a work that cannot be accomplished by natural man on his own. If it were a natural work, it would not require the intervention of God the Holy Spirit.

Regeneration is a monergistic work. “Monergistic” means that it is the work of one person who exercises his power. In the case of regeneration, it is God alone who is able, and it is God alone who performs the work of regenerating the human soul. The work of regeneration is not a joint venture between the fallen person and the divine Spirit; it is solely the work of God.

The monergistic work of regeneration by the Holy Spirit is an immediate work. It is immediate with respect to time, and it is immediate with respect to the principle of operating without intervening means. The Holy Spirit does not use something apart from His own power to bring a person from spiritual death to spiritual life, and when that work is accomplished, it is accomplished instantaneously. No one is partly regenerate, or almost regenerate. Here we have a classic either/or situation. A person is either born again, or he is not born again. There is no nine-month gestation period with respect to this birth. When the Spirit changes the disposition of the human soul, He does it instantly. A person may not be aware of this internal work accomplished by God for some time after it has actually occurred. But though our awareness of it may be gradual, the action of it is instantaneous.

John 3:1-8(ESV)Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
The result of our regeneration is first of all faith, which then results in justification and adoption into the family of God. Nobody is born into this world a child of the family of God. We are born as children of wrath. The only way we enter into the family of God is by adoption, and that adoption occurs when we are united to God’s only begotten Son by faith. When by faith we are united with Christ, we are then adopted into that family of whom Christ is the firstborn. Regeneration therefore involves a new genesis, a new beginning, a new birth. It is that birth by which we enter into the family of God by adoption.  It’s important to see that regeneration is a gift that God disposes sovereignly to all of those whom He determines to bring into His family.  John 1:9-12(ESV)9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Titus 3:1-7(ESV)Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 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. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 

John 15:16 (ESV )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.

Ezekiel 36:25-27(ESV)25 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. 26 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. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

2 Thessalonians 2:13(ESV)But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

John 6:44(ESV)44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
Why does He get to do all the choosing?
Psalm 115:3(ESV)Our God is in the heavens;He does all that he pleases.

Flesh can only produce flesh- that’s true and factual, Regenerating work of the Spirit is supernatural – Shai Linne

John 6:60-71(ESV)60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

1 Corinthians 2:14(ESV) – The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

2 Corinthians 4:3-4(ESV)3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

1 Corinthians 1:18(ESV)18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The call goes out by preaching the gospel, the Holy Spirit does the work of regeneration in the hearer’s heart, if the hearer is elect the hearer’s heart turns from stone to flesh, therefore the elect will respond by faith to the gospel message while the non-elect turn their ear and think it foolishness.
All of God’s “chosen” will be saved without exception; they will hear and respond because they have spiritual ears to hear the truth. How do we know if we are among the few that have ears to hear? By responding to the call. Assurance of this certain call, this chosen call, is from the Holy Spirit. If we listen with our spiritual ears and respond to the invitation, there will be fear and trembling in our souls as we recognize that it was God’s work in us that caused our salvation.

Romans 10:13-15(ESV)13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Many people hear the call of God which comes through His revelation of Himself through two things—the creation and the conscience/Holy Spirit within us. But only the “few” will respond because they are the ones who are truly hearing. Jesus said many times, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15; Mark 4:9; Luke 8:8, Luke 14:35). The point is that everyone has ears, but only a few are listening and responding. Not everyone who hears the gospel receives it but only the “few” who have ears to hear. The “many” hear, but there is no interest or there is outright antagonism toward God. Many are called or invited into the kingdom, but none are able to come on their own. God must draw the hearts of those who come; otherwise they will not. The Puritans had a saying: “The same sun that melts the ice hardens the clay.” If some of those scriptures were hard to hear listen to a few more.

1 Peter 2:4-8(ESV)4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

Exodus 7:3-4(ESV)“But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my people the Israelites.”

Romans 9:13-23(ESV)13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion,[b] but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—
From a human perspective, it seems wrong for God to harden a person and then punish the person He has hardened. Biblically speaking, however, we have all sinned against God (Romans 3:23(ESV), and the just penalty for that sin is death (Romans 6:23(ESV). Therefore, God’s hardening and punishing a person is not unjust; it is actually merciful in comparison to what the person deserves.

There will be no one in hell who does not deserve to be there. No one will be there who can give a good reason, a warranted reason why they shouldn’t be there. And all of the world will know this and will vindicate God in it. There will be no doubting of the justice of God at the last day. That is the first thing that has to be said, biblically, that no one will be in hell who doesn’t deserve to be there. No one will be in hell who is not in a state of rebellion against God. I think the Bible portrays God’s election and predestination as choosing graciously to save some sinners, not choosing to make some really good people bad. It always pictures him as rescuing sinners before the foundation of the world. Christ is slain for sinners before the foundation of the world.
Revelation 13:8(ESV)8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

God in His perfection wrote the doctrine of election

God does what He wants- that’s what it means to be Sovereign Ruler

Psalm 65:4(ESV)Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts!

Matthew 11:27(ESV)27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Who can argue with the people that God chooses?

Israel and not Egypt, Peter and not Judas

Humanly speaking, it should have been Saul and not David

The inheritance should have been Esau’s and not Jacob’s

Here are a few facts: we were dead in sin;we were deceived by Satan;and we were sentenced to hell. These are not part of our cultural assumptions about mankind. Virtually no one, outside a fairly small group of evangelicals, seriously believes that without a Savior all people are dead in sin and incapable of any spiritual good; and that without a Savior all people are captured and blinded by an evil, supernatural person named Satan; and that without a Savior all people are under the wrath of God and sentenced to eternal torment in hell. There are two fundamental reasons why these things are not believed:

1because they are unflattering to human nature, and

2because they have to be learned from God not man.

If there is going to be any salvation at all, there must be a divine revelation. God must reveal these things to us or we perish. We can’t find them out from YouTube or radio or medicine or psychology or art. We learn the truth about ourselves from the Word of God. And once our eyes are opened to the truth that God reveals, then we can see confirmations of it in virtually all the sciences and arts. The norm of the world in which we live is evil. Our default destination is Hell not Heaven. During the age in which we live, God permits that certain things are under the control of Satan.

Paul says in Galatians 1:3(ESV)“Christ gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age.”

Colossians 1:13(ESV)“God has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”

And John says in 1 John 5:19(ESV)“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the [power of] the evil one.”

So God has indeed begun to save people from the power of darkness. At the cross the decisive death blow was struck against Satan (Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14).
1 John 4:4(ESV)”He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world”.
By and large the world rejects the Savior. And without a Savior the prince of the power of the air reigns over the sons of disobedience. Nevertheless, the way of the cross is narrow and there are few that find it, and the way of Satan is broad and there are many that find it. Why? Because that is their natural state as children under wrath. We are all born sinful.

But the gloriousness of the gospel is this:
1 Corinthians 15:3-6(ESV)3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.

Romans 6:6-10(ESV)6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it–or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.

Before salvation, we were degenerate; after salvation we are regenerated. The result of regeneration is peace with God Romans 5:1(HCSB)Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ., new life, and eternal sonship. Regeneration begins the process of sanctification wherein we become the people God intends us to be. Regeneration is God’s making a person spiritually alive, as a result of faith in Jesus Christ. Our rebirth is distinguished from our first birth, when we were conceived physically and inherited our sin nature. The new birth is a spiritual, holy, and heavenly birth that results in our being made alive spiritually.

The regenerate man has forever ceased to be the man he was; his old life is over and a new life has begun; he is a new creature in Christ, buried with him out of reach of condemnation and raised with him into a new life of righteousness Regeneration is a real thorough change, whereby one is made a new creature

2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

The Lord God makes the creature a new creature, “as the goldsmith melts down the vessel of dishonor, and makes it a vessel of honor.”

Regeneration is a change of qualities or dispositions. Bad qualities are removed, and contrary dispositions are replaced. We will sin but we do not make a practice of sinning.

Colossians 3:9-11(NLT)9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

It is a change into the likeness of God. Regeneration is a radical change. Just as our physical birth resulted in a new individual entering the earthly realm, our spiritual birth results in a new person entering the heavenly realm. After regeneration, we begin to see and hear and seek after divine things; we begin to live a life of faith and holiness.