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.

Advertisements

Philippians Pt 10 My God shall Supply all my needs

Philippians 4:15-23(HCSB)15 And you Philippians know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent gifts for my need several times. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that is increasing to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance. I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. 21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. Those brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those from Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Philippians 4:16-18(HCSB) For even in Thessalonica you sent gifts for my need several times. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that is increasing to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full, and I have an abundance. I am fully supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you provided—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

It is important to understand that you become a partner with whomever you support. If you support our church, anything that the Lord allows our staff and ministries to accomplish, you share in. This means that when you stand before Christ, you will be rewarded for the fruit that comes from our ministry. Even though the Philippians were 800 miles away from Paul, they supported his ministry, and through Paul’s fruit, the eternal pay off for them will be great! Perhaps you need to spend more time investing in your ERA than in your IRA. We need to ask, “Where can our money have the most eternal impact?”

In 4:18, Paul expresses once again that he isn’t after more money (whew!). Three times he states that he has been given enough: “But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent” (4:18a). Paul is not after a salary increase. He isn’t striving for a promotion. He is content in Christ. The Philippians blessed Paul’s sandals off. Ironically, if any church had an excuse not to give, it was the Philippians since they were one of the most impoverished churches (2 Corinthians 8–9). But in spite of their circumstances, they gave, not just according to their ability, but beyond their ability. Paul now offers three expressions of gratitude for the Philippians’ generosity. He calls their gift “a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God” (4:18b). Paul draws upon the Old Testament where they would take an offering and lay it on the altar, and they would pour it out and it would create steam that the whole community could smell.

2 Corinthians 9:6–12(HCSB)Remember this:  The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves  a cheerful giver. And God is able  to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. As it is written: He scattered; He gave to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.  10 Now the One who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.  11 You will be enriched  in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God.

The rain falls on the just and the unjust; foxes have holes and birds have nests, while lilies adorn the fields. Everything in creation is under the providing care of God. Not only does God supply all things, but He arranges them according to His plan and for His glory. For Christians, this ought to produce peace and comfort even when it appears that all is against them.

Proverbs 16:33 (HCSB)The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.

“God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions” (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.11). If Creation was a unique exercise of divine energy causing the world to be, providence is a continued exercise of that same energy whereby the Creator, according to his own will, (a) keeps all creatures in being, (b) involves himself in all events, and (c) directs all things to their appointed end. The model is of purposive personal management with total “hands-on” control: God is completely in charge of his world. His hand may be hidden, but his rule is absolute. Some have restricted God’s providence to foreknowledge without control, or upholding without intervention, or general oversight without concern for details, but the testimony to providence as formulated above is overwhelming.

The Bible clearly teaches God’s providential control (1) over the universe at large, Ps. 103:19; Dan. 4:35; Eph. 1:11; (2) over the physical world, Job 37; Pss. 104:14; 135:6; Matt. 5:45; (3) over the brute creation, Ps. 104:21, 28; Matt. 6:26; 10:29; (4) over the affairs of nations, Job 12:23; Pss. 22:28; 66:7; Acts 17:26; (5) over man’s birth and lot in life, 1 Sam. 16:1; Ps. 139:16; Isa. 45:5; Gal. 1:15–16; (6) over the outward successes and failures of men’s lives, Ps. 75:6, 7; Luke 1:52; (7) over things seemingly accidental or insignificant, Prov. 16:33; Matt. 10:30; (8) in the protection of the righteous, Pss. 4:8; 5:12; 63:8; 121:3; Rom. 8:28; (9) in supplying the wants of God’s people, Gen. 22:8, 14; Deut. 8:3; Phil. 4:19; (10) in giving answers to prayer, 1 Sam. 1:19; Isa. 20:5, 6; 2 Chron. 33:13; Ps. 65:2; Matt. 7:7; Luke 18:7, 8; and (11) in the exposure and punishment of the wicked, Pss. 7:12–13; 11:6. (L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 4th ed.)

Clear thinking about God’s involvement in the world-process and in the acts of rational creatures requires complementary sets of statements, thus: a person takes action, or an event is triggered by natural causes, or Satan shows his hand—yet God overrules. This is the message of the book of Esther, where God’s name nowhere appears. Again: things that are done contravene God’s will of command—yet they fulfill his will of events (Eph. 1:11). Again: humans mean what they do for evil—yet God who overrules uses their actions for good (Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23). Again: humans, under God’s overruling, sin—yet God is not the author of sin (James 1:13–17); rather, he is its judge.

The nature of God’s “concurrent” or “confluent” involvement in all that occurs in his world, as—without violating the nature of things, the ongoing causal processes, or human free agency—he makes his will of events come to pass, is mystery to us, but the consistent biblical teaching about God’s involvement is as stated above.

Of the evils that infect God’s world (moral and spiritual perversity, waste of good, and the physical disorders and disruptions of a spoiled cosmos), it can summarily be said: God permits evil (Acts 14:16); he punishes evil with evil (Ps. 81:11–12; Rom. 1:26–32); he brings good out of evil (Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23; 4:27–28; 13:27; 1 Cor. 2:7–8); he uses evil to test and discipline those he loves (Matt. 4:1–11; Heb. 12:4–14); and one day he will redeem his people from the power and presence of evil altogether (Rev. 21:27; 22:14–15).

The doctrine of providence teaches Christians that they are never in the grip of blind forces (fortune, chance, luck, fate); all that happens to them is divinely planned, and each event comes as a new summons to trust, obey, and rejoice, knowing that all is for one’s spiritual and eternal good (Rom. 8:28).

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

Through divine providence God accomplishes His will. To ensure that His purposes are fulfilled, God governs the affairs of men and works through the natural order of things. The laws of nature are nothing more than God’s work in the universe. The laws of nature have no inherent power; rather, they are the principles that God set in place to govern how things normally work. They are only “laws” because God decreed them.

How does divine providence relate to human volition? We know that humans have a free will, but we also know that God is sovereign. How those two truths relate to each other is hard for us to understand, but we see examples of both truths in Scripture. Saul of Tarsus was willfully persecuting the church, but, all the while, he was “kick[ing] against the goads” of God’s providence (Acts 26:14(HCSB)14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice speaking to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads. Apparently, “to kick against the goads” was a common expression found in both Greek and Latin literature—a rural image, which rose from the practice of farmers goading their oxen in the fields. Though unfamiliar to us, everyone in that day understood its meaning.

Goads were typically made from slender pieces of timber, blunt on one end and pointed on the other. Farmers used the pointed end to urge a stubborn ox into motion. Occasionally, the beast would kick at the goad. The more the ox kicked, the more likely the goad would stab into the flesh of its leg, causing greater pain.

Saul’s conversion could appear to us as having been a sudden encounter with Christ. But based on the Lord’s expression regarding his kicking back, I believe He’d been working on him for years, prodding and goading him.

I believe the words and works of Jesus haunted the zealous Pharisee. Quite likely, Saul had heard Jesus teach and preach in public places. Similar in age, they would have been contemporaries in a city Saul knew well and Jesus frequently visited.

Imagine Saul (the name Paul means “small,” suggesting he may have been shorter than average), standing on tiptoe, straining to watch Jesus, all the while grudgingly wondering how this false prophet could be gaining popularity. Nonsense. He has to be of Satan! Pharisees loved to think that. Nevertheless, Jesus’s ministry stuck in Saul’s mind. The more it goaded him, the more he resisted God’s proddings.

In Philippians 4:6(ESV) Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” And then in Philippians 4:19(ESV),just 13 verses later, he gives the liberating promise of future grace: “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  This is not an unconditional promise, it is a conditional promise. God’s s promise to supply your needs (cf. 4:16) is embedded in the context of faithful, generous, even sacrificial giving. God meets our needs to express His approval of our giving. God does not promise to take care of the needs of believers who are stingy, lazy, or irresponsible. On the other hand, if you are giving as the Lord expects, He will meet your needs. Note carefully, he promises to meet needs, not wants.

If we live by faith in this promise of future grace, it will be very hard for anxiety to survive. God’s “riches in glory” are inexhaustible. He really means for us not to worry about our future.We should follow this pattern that Paul lays out for us. We should battle the unbelief of anxiety with the promises of future grace. While prosperity seekers might always be looking for money or possessions to miraculously arrive, we should take a closer look at what God desires to provide for us.

God’s provision extends to His ongoing relationship to all of His creation, which is deeply dependent on Him. Often, we take for granted the rain that falls, the sun that comes up every morning, the refreshing winds that blow, and the tides that cleanse our shores and invigorate the life in our vast oceans. But all these things are watched over by our loving God in His provision for us.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches His disciples to ask for provision, and our dependence on God is affirmed each time we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). In Matthew 6:24–25(HCSB)24 “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.25 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?, Jesus tells His disciples not to worry about food or clothing. The Father knows our needs. He desires covenant relationship with us, and that involves trusting Him to meet our daily requirements and seeking first His kingdom and righteousness Matthew 6:33(HCSB)33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

Psalm 84:11(HCSB) For the Lord God is a sun and shield.The Lord gives grace and glory; He does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity. This verse carries a reminder that there is a part we play in God’s provision coming to fruition in our lives. We must walk uprightly.

James 4:3(ESV) is an answer to our questions about why prayers sometimes go unanswered: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” God sees the heart, and our prayers’ motivations are important to Him. Galatians 1:15-16(HCSB)15 But when God, who from my birth set me apart and called me by His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me, so that I could preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone. 

Jeremiah 1:5(HCSB)I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

Ephesians 1:4-5(HCSB)4 For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5 He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, 6 to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.

Passages such as these give us an assurance that God’s love and direction began even before conception. What a gift to know that God has been involved in our lives from the very start! His love for us is encompassed in His desire for our highest good.

Romans 11:30–36(HCSB)30 As you once disobeyed God, but now have received mercy through their disobedience, 31 so they too have now disobeyed, resulting in mercy to you, so that they also now  may receive mercy. 32 For God has imprisoned all in disobedience,  so that He may have mercy on all. 

A Hymn of Praise

33 Oh, the depth of the riches 

both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! 

How unsearchable His judgments 

and untraceable His ways! 

34 For who has known the mind of the Lord? 

Or who has been His counselor? 

35 Or who has ever first given to Him, 

and has to be repaid?  a

36 For from Him and through Him 

and to Him are all things. 

To Him be the glory forever. Amen. 

Synergism vs Monergism Pt 3

Irresistible grace

The result of God’s irresistible grace is the certain response by the elect to the inward call of the Holy Spirit, when the outward call is given by the evangelist or minister of the Word of God. Christ, himself, teaches that all whom God has elected will come to a knowledge of him (John 6:37(ESV)37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. Men come to Christ in salvation when the Father calls them (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., and the very Spirit of God leads God’s beloved to repentance (Romans 8:14(ESV)14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.. What a comfort it is to know that the gospel of Christ will penetrate our hard, sinful hearts and wondrously save us through the gracious inward call of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 5:10(ESV)10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.! Ezekiel 36:26(ESV)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. The Holy Spirit regenerates every one of God’s chosen people, enabling them to believe. The Holy Spirit graciously regenerates every one of God’s chosen people, creating within them a new heart and enabling them to freely and willingly believe in Christ as Savior and Lord. The New Birth precedes and makes possible Saving Faith. Life gives Faith.Those whom God elected He draws to Himself through irresistible grace. God makes man willing to come to Him. When God calls, man responds John 6:37(HCSB)37 Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. there can be no salvation without the reality of irresistible grace. If we are dead in our sins, and unable to submit to God because of our rebellious nature, then we will never believe in Christ unless God overcomes our rebellion.

Someone may say, “Yes, the Holy Spirit must draw us to God, but we can use our freedom to resist or accept that drawing.” But that is not what the Bible teaches. Except for the continual exertion of saving grace, we will always use our freedom to resist God. That is what it means to be “unable to submit to God.” “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”
Romans 8:7–8(HCSB)7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

If a person becomes humble enough to submit to God, it is because God has given that person a new, humble nature. If a person remains too hard-hearted and proud to submit to God, it is because that person has not been given such a willing spirit. But to see this most persuasively, we should look at the Scriptures.

Unless the Father Draws

In John 6:44, Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” This drawing is the sovereign work of grace without which none of us will be saved from our rebellion against God.
John 6:65(HCSB)65 He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to Me unless it is granted to him by the Father.”

How God works to change our will without coercion against our will is further explained in 2 Corinthians 4:4–6(HCSB)4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus. 6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

Fallen man, left in his dead state, is totally unable to repent, to believe the gospel, or to come to Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:14(HCSB)14 But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.

John 6:44(HCSB)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.

What did Jesus say?

Matthew 4:19(ESV)19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Matthew 9:9(ESV)As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

John 6:37(ESV)37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 

John 6:65(ESV)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.”

What did early church fathers say?

Irenaeus (A.D. 180): “Not of ourselves, but of God, is the blessing of our salvation…Man, who was before led captive, is taken out of the power of the possessor, according to the mercy of God the Father, and restoring it, gives salvation to it by the Word; that is, by Christ; that many may experimentally learn that not of himself, but by the gift of God, he receives immortality.”

Tertullian (A.D. 200): “Do you think, O men, that we should ever have been able to have understood these things in the Scriptures unless by the will of Him that wills all things, we had received grace to understand them?…But by this it is plain, that [faith] is not given to thee by God, because thou dost not ascribe it to Him alone.”

Augustine (A.D. 370): “Faith itself is to be attributed to God…Faith is made a gift. These men, however, attribute faith to free will, so grace is rendered to faith not as a gratuitous gift, but as a debt…They must cease from saying this.”

Perseverance of the saints

Those called and justified will certainly be glorified (Romans 8:29-30(HCSB)For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified. The work of sanctification which God has brought about in his elect will continue until it reaches its fulfillment in eternal life (Philippians 1:6). Christ assures the elect that he will not lose them and that they will be glorified at the “last day” (John 10:27-29(HCSB)27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 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. The Calvinist stands upon the Word of God and trusts in Christ’s promise that he will perfectly fulfill the will of the Father in saving all the elect. The particular people God has elected and drawn to Himself through the Holy Spirit will persevere in faith. None of those whom God has elected will be lost; they are eternally secure in Him. All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in Faith by the Power of Almighty God and therefore continue to persevere in faith.The precise ones God has elected and drawn to Himself through the Holy Spirit will persevere in faith. None whom God has elected will be lost; they are eternally secure

All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God and thus persevere to the end. We believe that all who are justified will win the fight of faith. They will persevere in faith and will not surrender finally to the enemy of their souls. This perseverance is the promise of the new covenant, obtained by the blood of Christ, and worked in us by God himself, yet not so as to diminish, but only to empower and encourage, our vigilance; so that we may say in the end, I have fought the good fight, but it was not I, but the grace of God which was with me 2 Timothy 4:7(HCSB)7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
1 Corinthians 15:10(HCSB)10 But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me.

The people of God will persevere to the end and not be lost. The foreknown are predestined, the predestined are called, the called are justified, and the justified are glorified Romans 8:30(HCSB)30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified. No one is lost from this group. To belong to this people is to be eternally secure.

What did Jesus say?

John 6:38-40(ESV)38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

John 10:27-28(ESV)27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

What did early church fathers say?

Tertullian: “God forbid that we should believe that the soul of any saint should be drawn out by the devil…For what is of God is never extinguished.”

Augustine: “Of these believers no one perishes, because they were all elected. And they were elected because they were called according to the purpose–the purpose, however, not their own, but God’s…Obedience then is God’s gift…To this, indeed, we are not able to deny, that perseverance in good, progressing even to the end, is also a great gift of God.”

According to Calvinism:Salvation is accomplished by the almighty power of the Triune God. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy  Spirit makes Christ’s death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation

Synergism vs Monergism Pt2

Monergism (Greek mono meaning “one” and erg meaning “work”) is a term for the belief that the Holy Spirit is the only agent who effects regeneration of Christians. This view, held by Reformed and Calvinistic groups, sees salvation as the work of God alone, from first to last. He has chosen in eternity past whom He will save out of lost humanity (often referred to as the elect), and in His timing He will bring the elect to faith through the work of the Spirit for the sake of the Son, and save them forever to the praise of His glorious grace (Romans 8:29). This is opposed to the synergistic view as held by Arminianism and its theological predecessor Semi-Pelagianism where salvation is seen as a cooperative effort between God and man.

Reformed theology holds to the authority of Scripture, the sovereignty of God, salvation by grace through Christ, and the necessity of evangelism.

Authority of Scripture. Reformed theology teaches that the Bible is the inspired and authoritative Word of God, sufficient in all matters of faith and practice.

Sovereignty of God. Reformed theology teaches that God rules with absolute control over all creation. He has foreordained all events and is therefore never frustrated by circumstances. This does not limit the will of the creature, nor does it make God the author of sin.

Salvation by grace. Reformed theology teaches that God in His grace and mercy has chosen to redeem a people to Himself, delivering them from sin and death. The Reformed doctrine of salvation is commonly represented by the acronym TULIP. Calvinism is the theological system associated with the Reformer John Calvin that emphasizes the rule of God over all things as reflected in its understanding of Scripture, God, humanity, salvation, and the church. In popular vernacular, Calvinism often refers to the Five Points of Calvinistic doctrine regarding salvation, which make up the acrostic TULIP. In its broader sense, Calvinism is associated with Reformed theology. Reformed theology teaches that Christians are in the world to make a difference, spiritually through evangelism and socially through holy living and humanitarianism.

The Five Solas of the Reformation

The Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation, while not unique to Calvinism, are integral to a Calvinist theological perspective and therefore bear restating here:

Sola Fide – by faith alone, in specific reference to Justification.

Sola Scriptura – by the Scriptures alone, in reference to authority.

Solus Christus – by Christ alone, as our sole mediator and intercessor before God.

Sola gratia – by grace alone, in reference to salvation.

Soli Deo gloria – to God alone the glory.

Background

Calvinism is named after 16th century Reformer, John Calvin whose overall theology is contained in his Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559). Sometimes Calvinism is referred to by other names such as “Augustinianism” because Calvin followed Augustine (A.D. 354–430) in many areas of predestination and the sovereignty of God.

In a broad sense, Calvinism can be virtually synonymous with “Reformed Protestantism” or Reformed theology, encompassing the whole body of doctrine taught by Reformed churches and represented in various Reformed Confessions such as the Belgic Confession of Faith (1561) and the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) and also the 2nd London Baptist confession of Faith (1689).

Salvation (Five Points of Calvinism)

It starts with man in need of salvation (Total depravity) and then gives, in the order of their occurrence, the steps God takes to save his people. He elects (Unconditional election), then he sends Jesus to atone for the sins of the elect (Limited atonement), then he irresistibly draws his people to faith (Irresistible grace), and finally works to cause them to persevere to the end (Perseverance of the saints).

People grasp these points more easily if we go in the order in which we ourselves often experience them when we become Christians.

1We experience first our depravity and need of salvation.

2Then we experience the irresistible grace of God leading us toward faith.

3Then we trust the sufficiency of the atoning death of Christ for our sins.

4Then we discover that behind the work of God to atone for our sins and bring us to faith was the unconditional election of God.

5 And finally we rest in his electing grace to give us the strength and will to persevere to the end in faith.

These five points are a summary of the Canons of Dort which in turn was the judgment of the Synod of Dort (1618–1619) against related Arminian teaching. These five points are not intended to be a comprehensive summary of Calvinism or Reformed doctrine, but an exposition of the sovereignty of God in salvation — arranged to address the particular points in dispute raised by the Arminians of that day.

Total depravity

Calvinism teaches that humanity is totally depraved. Due to the Fall, the original relationship that Adam and Eve enjoyed with God was severed by sin. This affected the entire human race, corrupting the heart, mind, and will of every person born. Thus, people’s natural actions and affections, whether viewed by man as bad or good, are never pleasing to God. The Calvinist understanding of total depravity does not mean that people are as evil as they possibly could be. People still make good choices (from a human perspective), but no matter how good they may be, they never gain favor with God. While total depravity is commonly associated with John Calvin, this theological viewpoint is based on the theology of Augustine (b. 354). Man is spiritually dead. Because of the fall, man has become spiritually dead, blind and deaf to the things of God and is therefore unable of himself to choose spiritual good and determine his own destiny. Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to savingly believe the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free, it is in bondage to his evil nature, therefore, he will not — indeed he cannot — choose good over evil in the spiritual realm. Consequently, it takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ — it takes  regeneration by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature. Faith is not something man contributes to salvation but is itself a part of God’s gift of salvation— it is God’s gift to the sinner, not the sinner’s gift to God.Our sinful corruption is so deep and so strong as to make us slaves of sin and morally unable to overcome our own rebellion and blindness. This inability to save ourselves from ourselves is total. We are utterly dependent on God’s grace to overcome our rebellion, give us eyes to see, and effectively draw us to the Savior.

Romans 5:12(HCSB) Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned.

Ephesians 2:1-3(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.

Colossians 2:13(HCSB)13 And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses

Psalm 143:2(ESV)Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.

Romans 11:32(ESV)32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

Isaiah 53:6(ESV)All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

1 John 1:8-10(ESV)If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Mark 10:18/Luke 18:19(ESV)18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

What does Jesus say?

Mark 7:20-23(ESV)20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Matthew 7:17(ESV)17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.

Mark 7:21-23(ESV)21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

What did the early church fathers say?

Augustine (A.D. 370): “If, therefore, they are servants of sin (2 Cor. 3:17), why do they boast of free will?…O, man! Learn from the precept what you ought to do; learn from correction, that it is your own fault you have not the power…Let human effort, which perished by Adam, here be silent, and let the grace of God reign by Jesus Christ…What God promises, we ourselves do not through free will of human nature, but He Himself does by grace within us…Men labor to find in our own will something that is our own, and not God’s; how can they find it, I know not.”

Origen: “Our free will…or human nature is not sufficient to seek God in any manner.”

Barnabas (A.D. 70): “Learn: before we believed in God, the habitation of our heart was corrupt and weak.”

Ignatius (A.D. 110): “They that are carnal cannot do the things that are spiritual…Nor can the unbelievers do the things of belief.”

Unconditional election

Unconditional election is the doctrine which states that God chose those whom he was pleased to bring to a knowledge of himself, not based upon any merit shown by the object of his grace and not based upon foreseen faith (especially a mere decisional faith). God has elected, based solely upon the counsel of his own will, some for glory and others for damnation (Romans 9:15-21(ESV)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, 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?. He has done this act before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4–8(ESV)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 to himself 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. God’s election is unconditional. God’s choice of certain individuals for salvation was not based on any foreseen response of obedience on their part, but was based solely in His good and sovereign will. Because man is dead in sin, he is unable to initiate a response to God; therefore, in eternity past God elected certain people to salvation. Election and predestination are unconditional; they are not based on man’s response because man is unable to respond, nor does he want to. God’s choice of certain individuals unto salvation before fore the foundation of the world rested solely in His own sovereign will. His choice of particular sinners was not based on any foreseen response or obedience on their part, such as faith, repentance, etc. On the contrary, God gives faith and repentance to each individual whom He selected. These acts are the result, not the cause God’s choice. Election therefore was not determined by or conditioned upon any virtuous quality or act foreseen in man. Those whom God sovereignly elected He brings through the power of the Spirit to a willing acceptance of Christ. Thus God’s choice of the sinner, not the sinner’s choice of Christ, is the ultimate cause of salvation. God’s election is an unconditional act of free grace that was given through his Son Jesus before the world began. By this act, God chose, before the foundation of the world, those who would be delivered from bondage to sin and brought to repentance and saving faith in Jesus.

If all of us are so depraved that we cannot come to God without being born again by the irresistible grace of God, and if this particular grace is purchased by Christ on the cross, then it is clear that the salvation of any of us is owing to God’s election. He chose those to whom he would show such irresistible grace, and for whom he would purchase it. God has an elect people whom He has chosen to grant salvation.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5(HCSB)4 knowing your election, brothers loved by God. 5 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance. You know what kind of men we were among you for your benefit,

Election refers to God’s choosing whom to save. It is unconditional in that there is no condition man must meet before God chooses to save him. Man is dead in trespasses and sins. So there is no condition he can meet before God chooses to save him from his deadness.

Romans 8:29–30(ESV)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. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

What did Jesus say?

John 6:38-40(ESV)38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” 

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. 

John 6:65(ESV)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.” 

Mark 4:10-12(ESV)10 And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that “‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.’” 

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.

What did the early church fathers say?

Barnabas (A.D. 70): “We are elected to hope, committed by God unto faith, appointed to salvation.”

Ignatius: “To the predestined ones before all ages, that is, before the world began, united and elect in a true passion, by the eternal will of the Father…”

Augustine (A.D. 380): “Here certainly, there is no place for the vain argument of those who defend the foreknowledge of God against the grace of God, and accordingly maintain that we were elected before the foundation of the world because God foreknew that we would be good, not that He Himself would make us good. This is not the language of Him who said, ‘You did not choose Me, but I chose you’ (John 15:16)

Ambrose Of Milan (A.D. 380): “In predestination the Church of God has always existed.”

Cyprian (A.D. 250): “This is therefore the predestination which we faithfully and humbly preach.”

Limited atonement

Limited atonement (also known as “definite atonement”) is a doctrine offered in answer to the question, “for whose sins did Christ atone?” The Bible teaches that Christ died for those whom God gave him to save (John 17:9(ESV)I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. Christ died, indeed, for many people, but not all (Matthew 26:28(ESV)28 for this is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Specifically, Christ died for the invisible Church — the sum total of all those who would ever rightly bear the name “Christian” (Ephesians 5:25(ESV)25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Christ’s death was designed to actually secure the salvation of all of God’s chosen people. Christ’s death secured and actually accomplished the salvation of all of God’s chosen people. God has determined that all for whom Christ sacrificed Himself will be saved. Because God determined that certain ones should be saved as a result of God’s unconditional election, He determined that Christ should die for the elect alone. All whom God has elected and for whom Christ died will be saved (Matthew 1:21(HCSB)21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”;
John 17:9(HCSB)I pray for them. I am not praying for the world but for those You have given Me, because they are Yours.;
Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was a substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ’s redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation, including faith which unites them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, therefore guaranteeing their salvation. The atonement of Christ is sufficient for all humans and effective for those who trust him. It is not limited in its worth or sufficiency to save all who believe. But the full, saving effectiveness of the atonement that Jesus accomplished is limited to those for whom that saving effect was prepared. The availability of the total sufficiency of the atonement is for all people. Whosoever will — whoever believes — will be covered by the blood of Christ. And there is a divine design in the death of Christ to accomplish the promises of the new covenant for the chosen bride of Christ. Thus Christ died for all people, but not for all in the same way.

What did Jesus say?

John 10:11(ESV)11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 

John 10:26(ESV)26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.

Matthew 25:32-33(ESV)32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.

 

What did early church fathers say?

Jerome (A.D. 390): “Christ is sacrificed for the salvation of believers…Not all are redeemed, for not all shall be saved, but the remnant…All those who are redeemed and delivered by Thy blood return to Zion, which Thou hast prepared for Thyself by Thine own blood…Christ came to redeem Zion with His blood. But lest we should think that all are Zion or every one is Zion is truly redeemed of the Lord, who are redeemed by the blood of Christ form the Church…He did not give His life for every man, but for many, that is, for those who would believe.”

Tertullian (A.D. 200): “Christ died for the salvation of His people…for the church.”

Justin Martyr (A.D. 150): “He endured the sufferings for those men whose souls are [actually] purified from all iniquity…As Jacob served Laban for the cattle that were spotted, and of carious forms, so Christ served even to the cross for men of every kind, of many and various shapes, procuring them by His blood and the mystery of the cross.”

 

Doctrine and what we believe

What is doctrine? In its basic sense, doctrine is any sort of teaching. The Bible, for example, talks about the teachings of men (Mark 7:7–8(ESV)7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”, the teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-3(ESV)Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. and the teachings of God (John 6:45(ESV)45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—;

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12(ESV)9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. Here, we are concerned with divine teaching, the teaching of God. According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God. The word translated “doctrine” means “instruction, especially as it applies to lifestyle application.” In other words, doctrine is teaching imparted by an authoritative source. In the Bible, the word always refers to spiritually related fields of study. The Bible says of itself that it is 2 Timothy 3:16-17(ESV)16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.. We are to be careful about what we believe and present as truth. 1 Timothy 4:16(ESV) Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Biblical doctrine helps us understand the will of God for our lives. Biblical doctrine teaches us the nature and the character of God, John 4:24(ESV)24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”, the path of salvation through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9(ESV)8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Romans 10:9–10(ESV)9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved., instruction for the church (1 Corinthians 14:26(ESV)26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.;

Titus 2:1–10(ESV)But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior., and God’s standard of holiness for our lives 1 Peter 1:14–16(ESV)14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

1 Corinthians 6:18–20(ESV)18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. When we accept the Bible as God’s Word to us (2 Peter 1:20–21(ESV)20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.),(There is only one interpretation of scripture, not many) we have a solid foundation for our doctrine. There can be disagreement within the body of Christ over secondary points of doctrine, such as eschatology, church organization, or the style of music. But truly biblical doctrine is that which incorporates the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) and draws conclusions based on that which seems most closely aligned with the character of our unchanging God.

Those “untaught” in sound doctrine are most prone to twisting the Scriptures “to their own destruction” 2 Peter 3:16(ESV)16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

The Object of Sound Doctrine

Sound doctrine is important because what we believe affects what we do. Behavior is an extension of theology, and there is a direct correlation between what we think and how we act. For example, two people stand on top of a bridge; one believes he can fly, and the other believes he cannot fly. Their next actions will be quite different. In the same way, a man who believes that there is no such thing as right and wrong will naturally behave differently from a man who believes in well-defined moral standards. In one of the Bible’s lists of sins, things like rebellion, murder, lying, and slave trading are mentioned. The list concludes with “whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:9-10(ESV)9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,. In other words, true teaching promotes righteousness; sin flourishes where “the sound doctrine” is opposed.

Sound doctrine is important because we must ascertain truth in a world of falsehood. 1 John 4:1(ESV)Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. There are tares among the wheat and wolves among the flock (Matthew 13:24-25(ESV)24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.;

Acts 20:28-30(ESV)28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. The best way to distinguish truth from falsehood is to know what the truth is. They teach bankers to identify counterfeit bills by making them handle real money, that way when the fake shows up it is easily identifiable. Therefore it is imperative to your walk that you know the truth from the beginning.

Sound doctrine is important because the end of sound doctrine is life.
1 Timothy 4:16(ESV)16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. Conversely, the end of unsound doctrine is destruction. Jude 1:4(ESV)4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Changing God’s message of grace is a “godless” thing to do, and the condemnation for such a deed is severe. Preaching another gospel (“which is really no gospel at all”) carries an anathema:(a curse,damnation) Galatians 1:6-9(ESV)6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Sound doctrine is important because it encourages believers. A love of God’s Word brings “great peace” (Psalm 119:165(ESV) Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble., and those “who proclaim peace . . . who proclaim salvation” are truly “beautiful”
Isaiah 52:7(ESV)How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

A pastor has a mandate from scripture to hold to sound doctrine and rebuke those who contradict it.  Titus 1:9(ESV)9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. Therefore I do not care if you think a Pastor should not be “arguing in a public forum such as Facebook, because the bible tells us to rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine.

God loves us; and in His goodness He has given us the good gift of doctrine that we might learn of Him and of His gospel, and that we might please Him in our walk. Doctrine is the teaching of our heavenly Father, revealed in Jesus Christ, and transmitted to us by the Holy Spirit in Holy Scripture, and it is to be received, confessed, and followed in the church, to the glory of God’s name.

What we hold to as doctrine; the five solas, doctrines of grace and the Baptist Faith and Message, also the 2nd London Baptist Confessional(1689).
The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged from the Protestant Reformation intended to summarize the Reformers’ basic theological principles in contrast to certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. “Sola” is Latin meaning “alone” or “only” and the corresponding phrases are:

•Sola Fide, by faith alone.

•Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.

•Solus Christus, through Christ alone.

•Sola Gratia, by grace alone.

•Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.

Faith alone (Sola Fide)

Justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. In justification Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God’s perfect justice. Our justification does not rest on any merit to be found in us, nor upon the grounds of an infusion of Christ’s righteousness in us, nor that an institution claiming to be a church that denies or condemns sola fide can be recognized as a legitimate church.

Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura)

The inerrant Scripture (the Bible) is the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. It is denied that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.

Christ alone (Solus Christus)

Our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of the historical Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father. It is denied that the gospel is preached if Christ’s substitutionary work is not declared and faith in Christ and his work is not solicited.

Grace alone (Sola Gratia)

In salvation we are rescued from God’s wrath by his grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life. It is denied that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature.

Glory to God alone (Soli Deo Gloria)

It is affirmed that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone. It is denied that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self- fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.

We adhere to a very high view of scripture and sees to derive our theological formulations based solely on God’s word. We focus on God’s sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. We also maintain that within the Bible are the following teachings: That God, by His sovereign grace predestines people into salvation; that Jesus died only for those predestined; that God regenerates the individual where he is then able and wants to choose God; and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation.

Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin. The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Man’s heart is evil and sick. Man is a slave of sin. He does not seek for God. He cannot understand spiritual things. He is at enmity with God. And, is by nature a child of wrath.

God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His will without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who would pick Him.

Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the sins of the elect.otherwise His death would have atoned for the sins of the whole world and no one would go to hell.

When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit who works in the hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration whereby they willingly and freely come to God.
You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation, those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ.

Ephesians 1:3-10(ESV)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[b] for adoption to himself 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 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Ephesians 2:1-10(ESV)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[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b] But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Romans 5:7-8 – For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:12,19 – sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned… by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners

John 10:3-4(ESV)3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

John 10:25-29(ESV)25 “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in My Father’s name testify about Me. 26 But you don’t believe because you are not My sheep. 27 My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 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.

John 6:37,44,65(ESV)37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.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.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.”

John 3:16-20(ESV)16 “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Romans 3:10-12 (ESV)10 as it is written:“None is righteous, no, not one;11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;no one does good, not even one.”

1.  We believe in the one true and living God, in three Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who is invisible, personal, omnipresent, eternal, dependent on none, unchanging, truthful, trustworthy, almighty, sovereign, omniscient, righteous, holy, good, loving, merciful, long-suffering and gracious.

2.  We believe that Almighty God has revealed all that is necessary to life and salvation in the sixty six books of Holy Scripture which are the Word of God.   All Scripture was given by inspiration of God, is infallible and inerrant, and is the final arbiter in all disputes. Its authority is derived from its Author and not from the opinions of men.

3. We believe that God made our first father Adam perfect, holy and upright.   He was appointed representative and head of the human race thereby exposing all his offspring to the effects of his obedience or disobedience to God’s commands.

4.  We believe that Adam fell from his original righteousness into sin and brought upon himself and all his offspring death, condemnation and sinnership.

5.  We believe it is utterly beyond the power of fallen man to love God, to keep his laws, to understand the gospel, to repent of sin or trust in Christ.

6. We believe that God, before the foundation of the world, for his own glory did elect an innumerable host of men and women to eternal life as an act of free and sovereign grace.   This election was in no way dependent upon his foresight of human faith, decision, works or merit.

7.  We believe that God sent his Son into the world, conceived of the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit, unchangeably sinless, both God and man, born under the Law, to live a perfect life of righteousness, on behalf of his elect people.

8. We believe that God’s Son died at Calvary to effect propitiation, reconciliation, redemption and atonement for his elect people. God bore testimony to his acceptance of his Son’s work by raising him from the dead.

9. We believe that God’s Son ascended to the right hand of his Father and is enthroned in glory, where he intercedes on behalf of his people and rules over all things for their sake.

10. We believe that God the Son has poured out the Holy Spirit to work alongside the preached Word. The Spirit of God regenerates the elect sinner and draws him irresistibly to faith in Christ the Saviour.

11. We believe the elect, who are called by grace, are justified in the sight of God on account of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ which is received by faith alone.

12.  We believe that such as are regenerated, called and justified shall persevere in holiness and never fall away.

13. We believe that baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper are gospel ordinances belonging only to regenerated believers.

14. We believe that the local church is under the authority of Christ alone.The communion of saints, however, requires recognition of and fellowship with other churches.

15. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ shall come again to raise the dead, both righteous and unrighteous, and that the righteous shall enjoy everlasting life and the wicked endure everlasting punishment.

For more detailed exposition on our beliefs you can look it up in the Baptist Faith and Message.

Intimacy with God

Don’t think the devil wont try to give you everything you desire to keep you from your purpose. He can only tempt you with what you can be tempted with. He knows if he can get you to compromise in worship, then he can get you to compromise in church, then in your prayer time and eventually you will fall way. If he can’t get you to do that he will keep you busy with work chasing the American dream to keep you from your purpose. Don’t think he won’t make taking that job away from home, stepping down from ministry, missing your wife and kids and forfeiting your purpose of God very appealing.

The first thing you lose in compromise is not the anointing, the revelation or the gift, it’s the intimacy. You stop spending time with God. Intimacy with God is where supernatural things are produced. Spiritual reproduction is a result of intimacy with God. God made Adam from dirt and Made Eve from Adam. We all know that men are women are different physically. God had everything he needed to form Eve from Adam. God could’ve just made another person from the dirt or give Adam the ability to form people from dirt. But it wasn’t God’s will to reproduce without intimacy. The problem with the modern church is that we have so compromised that we are no longer intimate with God and we are trying to reproduce things without presence.

We are producing a godless culture because we are reproducing without presence, we are so called outreaching without presence, we are building buildings without presence, building multi campus without presence, multiple services without presence, were becoming a Rock Star huge “success” without presence writing multi million dollar selling books on how we learned to procreate without intimacy.

Genesis 38:8-10 (NLT)

8 Then Judah said to Er’s brother Onan, “Go and marry Tamar, as our law requires of the brother of a man who has died. You must produce an heir for your brother.”9 But Onan was not willing to have a child who would not be his own heir. So whenever he had intercourse with his brother’s wife, he spilled the semen on the ground. This prevented her from having a child who would belong to his brother. 10 But the Lord considered it evil for Onan to deny a child to his dead brother. So the Lord took Onan’s life, too.

We need to be impregnated not stimulated, Onan went in to stimulate the bride but did not impregnate her.  We are in the church to impregnate you with something so your appetites change, we are not here to stimulate and make u feel good about yourself.  The sword is the word and it is here to separate your flesh from your spirit. The sword is not here to entertain, we are in an entertain me society.
Genesis 21

Abraham even at 100 knew that he could not reproduce without intimacy with Sarah. At 100 he still believes, not that God will do it another way but that intimacy is still relevant to reproduction. Abraham is a man of enormous faith who refused to stop believing God. Regardless of the mistake he made he was still unwavering in the promise that God made him. What God spoke to him at 75 he still believed at 100.What God spoke to him at 75 that he made a huge mistake of getting intimate with something that should have been serving him. Hagar was supposed to serve Abraham but when you get in bed with things that are supposed to be serving you like your job, your career, materialism, secular humanism, philosophy, intellect, whenever you get intimate with them you end up producing something that will fight against your promise. Later on Sarah looks out and sees Ishmael picking on Isaac and says to Abraham get that bondwoman and her son away from my Isaac. If you never separate them your mistake will begin to mock your miracle. Isaac was the miracle and Ishmael was the mistake and Abraham wanted them to live together but God is showing us that there must be a place of consecration and disconnection if there is going to be a real elevation to the next level. Whatever God is asking you to get rid of, whoever he is telling you to disconnect from is not because he wants to see you in pain or suffer its because you cannot elevate to the new level with that amount of baggage.

What happened here is Abraham stepped in and took matters into his own hands not because he didn’t believe it’s because he compromised and when you compromise you lose intimacy. When you compromise you diminish the role of the bride and you start partnering with stuff you should be communing with. God is looking for brides. Sarah was the bride but her role was diminished when Abraham turned to self management. When we compromise and move into self management we lose our bride status. We become busy, sensible, reasonable and practical and just getting things done seems much more easier than just waiting in prayer. We move into busy but we don’t labor for him anymore. We lose the intimacy that marks us and our ability to reproduce and any thing coming out of us isn’t of any divine consequence, and never accomplishing anything worthwhile for Him.

The enemy knows that if he can get you to compromise, you forfeit your bride status, move out of intimacy and move into adultery. He has no new tricks, if he can get you to forget your identity you will compromise.

1 Corinthians 15:45-49(ESV)45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

2 Corinthians 11:1-6(ESV)  I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

Genesis 3:1-7(ESV)Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Eve was created in the image of God and walked with God but the enemy got her to forget her identity for a moment.

Genesis 1:26-27(ESV)26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image,  in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

What the enemy tries to do is get us into spiritual adultery. God uses sexual imagery to describe our desire to “whore” after the latest religious fads, to believe false teachers, to embrace the world. What is obviously witchcraft, idolatry, carnal, false, or demonically enhanced is readily embraced as long as it is popular. Deviant “ministries” push to feed our lust to be hip & trendy. Do we recognize how intense the desire is within us to “search” for spiritual thrills? God has a few things to say concerning this

Spiritual adultery is unfaithfulness to God. It is having an inappropriate affection for the things of the world. Spiritually adultery is comparable to the unfaithfulness of one’s spouse:Jeremiah 3:20(NLT)20  But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel! You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband. I, the Lord, have spoken.”;

Isaiah 1:21(ESV)21 How the faithful city has become a whore, she who was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers.;

Ezekiel 16:30-34(ESV)30 “How sick is your heart, declares the Lord God, because you did all these things, the deeds of a brazen prostitute, 31 building your vaulted chamber at the head of every street, and making your lofty place in every square. Yet you were not like a prostitute, because you scorned payment. 32 Adulterous wife, who receives strangers instead of her husband! 33 Men give gifts to all prostitutes, but you gave your gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from every side with your whorings. 34 So you were different from other women in your whorings. No one solicited you to play the whore, and you gave payment, while no payment was given to you; therefore you were different.

The Bible tells us that people who choose to be friends with the world are an “adulterous people” having “enmity against God” (James 4:4–5). The “world” here is the system of evil under Satan’s control. 1 John 5:19(ESV)19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. The world system, with it’s deliberately created and deceitful scheme of phony values, worthless pursuits, and unnatural affections, is designed to lure us away from a pure relationship with God. Spiritual adultery, then, is the forsaking of God’s love and the embracing of the world’s values and desires.
1 John 2:15–17(ESV)15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Spiritual adultery includes any form of idolatry. In the Old Testament, the children of Israel tried to mix the worship of other gods such as Baal with that of God (Judges 3:7; 1 Kings 16:31–33; Jeremiah 19:5). In doing so, Israel became like an adulterous wife who wanted both a husband and another lover (Jeremiah 9:2; Ezekiel 6:9; Ezekiel 16:32). In the New Testament, James defines spiritual adultery as claiming to love God while cultivating friendship with the world (James 4:4–5). The person who commits spiritual adultery is one who professes to be a Christian yet finds his real love and pleasure in the things that Satan offers. For believers, the love of the world and the love of God are direct opposites. Believers committing spiritual adultery may claim to love the Lord, but, in reality, they are captivated by the pleasures of this world, its influence, comforts, financial security, and so-called freedoms. The love of the world is primarily an attitude of one’s heart, and we can cast away worldliness by cultivating a new affection.

The imagery and symbolism of marriage is applied to Christ and the body of believers known as the church. These are those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their personal savior and have received eternal life. In the New Testament, Christ, the Bridegroom, has sacrificially and lovingly chosen the church to be His bride

Ephesians 5:25-27(ESV) 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Just as there was a betrothal period in biblical times during which the bride and groom were separated until the wedding, so is the bride of Christ separate from her Bridegroom during the church age. Her responsibility during the betrothal period is to be faithful to Him
2 Corinthians 11:2(ESV) 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
Ephesians 5:24(ESV) 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. At the Second Coming of Christ, the church will be united with the Bridegroom, the official “wedding ceremony” will take place and, with it, the eternal union of Christ and His bride will be actualized.
Revelation 19:7-9(HCSB) Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself.8  She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure. For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints.

The church is in the state it is in because the church leaders have lost their intimacy. We have worship leaders who can sing and entertain but would not know the glory of God if it came in like a bulldozer. Preachers who have great skill and great gifting but would not know how to shut their plan down for the glory of God if their life and ministry depended on it. What it going take is for us to recognize we are leaders and we have got to maintain our commitment to His presence and stay in the intimacy if we are going to become the bride that God has intended us to be, the warring governing bride of all mighty God representing on the Earth, the great groom who has never lost a battle in the history of all mankind. But it’s going to take intimacy to get us back to the place He called us to be.

That word know, “ginosko” in the Greek, refers in this context to an intimate relationship of union and approval. That is the kind of relationship a believer needs to have with Christ.

Matthew 7:21-23(ESV)21 “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. 22 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?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Luke 1:34(KJV)And Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man

Paul said, 1 Corinthians 8:3 (ESV)But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.” . Jesus will not say those words of condemnation in Matthew 7:21-23 to someone who truly loves Him. God recognizes, approves and truly works together with those who love Him. If we love the Lord, we will be looking to Him for power to overcome sin before we look for miraculous displays of the power of signs and wonders.

Philippians Pt 3 Jesus left His throne

“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6 HCSB

At Christmas, we are confronted with the difficult task of separating the reality of the gospel from the fallacy of Christmas traditions. There is so much confusion that sometimes you feel like the real Christmas story is like a precious diamond lost amongst a bunch of svarsky crystals. It just seems impossible to find.  Christmas has really become a hopeless muddle of confusion.

The humility and the poverty of the stable are somehow confused with the wealth and indulgence and selfishness of gift-giving. The quietness of Bethlehem is mingled with the noise of shopping malls. The soberness of the incarnation is somehow mixed with the drunkenness of this season. Blinking colored lights somehow have some connection to the star of Bethlehem. The room in the inn, so obscure, so dirty, somehow embraces the thought of a warm house, a yule log on the fireplace, and feasting.  Cheap plastic toys for little kids with which to act out their foolishness are mixed with the true value of the gifts given by wise men.  Salesmen somehow get mixed up with shepherds.

The pain of childbirth is mixed with the parties.  The filth of the stable is confounded with the whiteness of fresh snow.  And then there’s Mary, Joseph, A Christmas Story(You’ll shoot your eye out) and Bing Crosby.

The great reality of Christmas, which is the glory of the Lord being revealed, is obscured by so much tinsel, evergreen trees, temporal activity, and commercialism; and I think it’s true that Santa Claus really has become the focus of Christmas for most people.  In fact, it’s amazing, but I think some people have trouble confusing Santa Claus with Jesus,  You better watch out, You better not cry, You better not pout, I’m telling you why:

Santa Claus is coming to town! He’s making a list, And checking it twice, Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. Santa Claus is coming to town!

He sees you when you’re sleeping, He knows when you’re awake. He knows when you’ve been bad or good, So be good for goodness sake!

Matthew 1:18-25(HCSB)18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. 20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph got up from sleeping, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her 25 but did not know her intimately until she gave birth to a son. And he named Him Jesus.

Luke 2:1-7(HCSB)In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus[a] that the whole empire should be registered. This first registration took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him[d] and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.

That first Christmas, earth was not aware to the significance of a simple birth in a quiet town. But heaven wasn’t. The holy angels waited in anticipation to break forth in praise and worship and adoration at the birth of the newborn Christ. This Child’s birth meant deliverance for mankind. The angel told Joseph: Matthew 1:21(HCSB)21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

Unlike Isaac, who ascended the mountain with Abraham unaware he was to be the sacrifice, Jesus descended from heaven in full awareness of what the Father had in store for Him. Scripture records for us what may have been a farewell message Jesus gave just prior to His incarnation.

When He comes into the world, He says,Hebrews 10:5-7(HCSB)Therefore, as He was coming into the world, He said: You did not want sacrifice and offering, but You prepared a body for Me. 6  You did not delight in whole burnt offerings and sin offerings. 7  Then I said, “See—it is written about Me in the volume of the scroll—I have come to do Your will, God!

That passage of Scripture gives us a remarkable look at the heart of the Savior before His birth. He knew He was entering the world to be the final and ultimate sacrifice for sin. His body had been divinely prepared by God specifically for that purpose. Jesus was going to die for the sins of the world, and He knew it. Moreover, He was doing it willingly. That was the whole point of the incarnation.
John 10:14-18(HCSB)14 “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, 15 as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father.”

The important issue of Christmas is not so much that Jesus came, but why He came. There was no salvation in His birth. Nor did the sinless way He lived His life have any redemptive force of its own. His example, as flawless as it was, could not rescue men from their sins. Even His teaching, the greatest truth ever revealed to man, could not save us from our sins. There was a price to be paid for our sins. Someone had to die. Only Jesus could do it.

Jesus came to earth, of course, to reveal God to mankind. He came to teach truth. He came to fulfill the Law. He came to offer His kingdom. He came to show us how to live. He came to reveal God’s love. He came to bring peace. He came to heal the sick. He came to minister to the needy.

Here’s a side to the Christmas story that isn’t often told: Those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them. Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day stagger up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross. That sweet infant’s head with sparkling eyes and eager mouth was formed so that someday men might force a crown of thorns onto it. That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear. Jesus was born to die.

Don’t think I’m trying to put a damper on your Christmas spirit. Far from it—for Jesus’ death, though devised and carried out by men with evil intentions, was in no sense a tragedy. In fact, it represents the greatest victory over evil anyone has ever accomplished.

Christ’s Humility and Exaltation

This portion of scripture tells of the descension of the Son of God to earth, to die, and then to return in exaltation to glory. It’s the theology of Christmas, it tells us what happened from the divine side of the story.

Philippians 2:5-11(HCSB)5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. 7 Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, 8  He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross. 9  For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, 10  so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth— 11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

He abandoned a sovereign position. Go back to verse 6 and this identifies His person, His nature, His character, His attributes in eternity before He came. In a word, His sovereign position. It says in verse 6 that He existed in the form of God thus He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or seized.

So the story of Christmas begins with the Son of God abandoning a sovereign position. Secondly, He accepted a slave’s place…He accepted a slave’s place. Back to verse 7, “Taking the form of a slave.” It’s doulos, slave and there’s no such word as bondservant in the Greek, it’s the word for slave. He came down. How far down? He came to be a slave. He took off the robes of majesty and put on the apron of a slave. This, of course, is what the Old Testament promises. Regarding Jesus’ birth—Isaiah 7:14(ESV): “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Isaiah 9:6(ESV): “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 53:6-12(HCSB)We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted,yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth. 8  He was taken away because of oppression and judgment; and who considered His fate? For He was cut off from the land of the living; He was struck because of my people’s rebellion.9 They made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man at His death, although He had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully.10  Yet the Lord was pleased to crush Him severely.When You make Him a restitution offering, He will see His seed, He will prolong His days, and by His hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished. 11He will see it out of His anguish, and He will be satisfied with His knowledge. My righteous Servant will justify many, and He will carry their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion, and He will receive the mighty as spoil, because He submitted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels.

He takes on the attributes, takes on the characteristics of a slave. He literally becomes a slave, a slave of God and a slave of sinners, if you will. He came not to be served, but to serve. Luke 22:27(HCSB)27 For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the One who serves. The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve. And how? By giving His life.

I think the point of Christmas is right here. Christmas, there’s no better time in the year than to teach us the illustration of the lesson of humility. The character of Christ, He was unselfish. He was humble. And Paul is challenging the church to that perspective; an attitude of a willingness to suffer, to be humiliated, to be selfless, to be sacrificing, so that God can lift us up. And the thing we need to learn, people, is not to always be asserting ourselves, defending ourselves, pushing ourselves up, but to be humble and selfless. That is the message of Christmas to us.

Hebrews 2:14-15(HCSB)14 Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the Devil— 15 and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.

So we are free from the fear of death. God has justified us. Satan cannot overturn that command. And God means for our ultimate safety to have an immediate effect on our lives. He means for the happy ending to take away the slavery and fear of the Now. If we do not need to fear our last and greatest enemy, death, then we do not need to fear anything. We can be free. Free for joy. Free for others. What a great Christmas present from God to us! And from us to the world!

It’s appropriate to commemorate the birth of Christ. But don’t make the mistake of leaving Him as a baby in a manger. Keep in mind that His birth was just the first step in God’s glorious plan of redemption. Remember that it’s the triumph of Christ’s sacrificial death that gives meaning to His humble birth. You can’t truly celebrate one without the other

We all have sinned, Sinfulness is the general characteristic of all mankind; we are all guilty before God. We are sinners by nature and by our own acts of transgression.

Romans 3:9-10(HCSB)”What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one.”

Romans 3:23(HCSB)for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  

Psalm 14:3(HCSB)All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one.

We are all sinners because Adam passed on his sinful condition that leads inevitably to our personal sin and death.Romans 5:12(HCSB)12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. All share Adam’s death sentence as an inherited condition (the “sin nature”) that is passed down to and through the human race and that every child brings into the world. Even before a child can be held accountable for personal sin, he or she is naturally prone to disobey, to tell lies, etc. Every child is born with a sin nature.

Titus 3:4-7(HCSB)But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us—not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior,7 so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.

The Atonement of Christ is the sacrificial work of Jesus for sinners. In his death on the cross, Christ atoned for the sins of humanity such that God is satisfied and reconciliation is accomplished for all who will be redeemed.Jesus’ death satisfied and reconciled sinners to God.

1 Timothy 1:15-17(HCSB) 15 This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate His extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.