Ephesians Pt4 Regeneration precedes faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 15:16 (ESV )You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

Ezekiel 36:25-27(ESV)25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God in His perfection wrote the doctrine of election

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

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

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

Who can argue with the people that God chooses?

Israel and not Egypt, Peter and not Judas

Humanly speaking, it should have been Saul and not David

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

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

1because they are unflattering to human nature, and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ephesians Pt2 Wisdom and Revelation

Ephesians 1:15-19(HCSB)15 This is why, since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I never stop giving thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.

Whenever we read Scripture, we should attempt to determine as much as possible about the original context and purpose of the particular passage of study. This is called hermeneutics, this practice gives us a guide to interpretation and keeps us from going off into false interpretations or from reading our own opinions into the text(Eisegete).  Most of the time, it is easy to determine the purpose of each of the New Testament letters because the Paul refers to specific problems in the congregation. For example, Paul’s purpose in writing Galatians is clear—to expose the false gospel preached by the Judaizers and unfold the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.
Galatians 1:6–10(HCSB)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. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 2:11–21(HCSB)15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Ephesians, however, presents us with some difficulty because Paul does not mention any specific problems troubling the church at the time he wrote. Yet since the letter covers a whole host of basic Christian doctrinal and ethical principles, we can surmise that the pressing need of the believers in Ephesus and the surrounding regions was instruction in doctrine and living so that they might mature in the faith.“a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17).

Wisdom and knowledge, both recurring themes in the Bible, are related but not synonymous. The dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Knowledge, on the other hand, is “information gained through experience, reasoning, or acquaintance.” Knowledge can exist without wisdom, but not the other way around. One can be knowledgeable without being wise. Knowledge is knowing how to use a gun; wisdom is knowing when to use it and when to keep it holstered.

God wants us to have knowledge of Him and what He expects of us. In order to obey Him, we have to have knowledge of the commands. But as equally important as having knowledge is having wisdom. Knowing facts about God and the Bible is not all there is to wisdom. Wisdom is a gift from God. James 1:5(HCSB)If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. God blesses us with wisdom in order for us to glorify Him and use the knowledge we have of Him.

The book of Proverbs is perhaps the best place in the Bible to learn of biblical wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 speaks of both biblical knowledge and wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, / but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” To fear the Lord is to start on the path to knowledge, and God can then begin to provide us with wisdom through Christ, who the Bible says is wisdom itself: 1 Corinthians 1:30 (ESV)“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption”.

Knowledge is what is gathered over time through study of the Scriptures. It can be said that wisdom, in turn, acts properly upon that knowledge. Wisdom is the fitting application of knowledge. Knowledge understands the light has turned red; wisdom applies the brakes. Knowledge sees the quicksand; wisdom walks around it. Knowledge memorizes the Ten Commandments; wisdom obeys them. Knowledge learns of God; wisdom loves Him.

John Calvin writes, “Till the Lord opens them, the eyes of our heart are blind. Till the Spirit has become our instructor, all that we know is folly and ignorance. Till the Spirit of God has made it known to us by a secret revelation, the knowledge of our divine calling exceeds the capacity of our own minds.” At regeneration, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes so that we can see who God is and who we are for the very first time. But after conversion, He continues to work to give us insight into His revealed Word and to deepen our personal relationship with Him.

The “spirit of wisdom and of revelation” is not some extra gift or special blessing received after conversion. Instead, it refers to the work of the Spirit to help all the people of God understand the things of God. If you are a Christian, you possess this Spirit, and He works in the corporate body of Christ to confirm the truth of Scripture, help us understand its meaning, reveal our sin, drive us to Christ, and so much more.

The word revelation simply means a revealing of something or someone. It is to reveal what was before hidden. It’s like opening a curtain or a door and seeing what is behind it. Long ago, God revealed Himself to Abram (later changed to Abraham) (Genesis 12) and then to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3) so for Abram and Moses, there was a revelation from God and that was their first ever revelation of God and it changed the course of human history. Through Abraham came the Promised Seed, Jesus Christ. The Bible is a book where God gradually reveals Himself more and more until finally, Jesus Christ arrives and we see the God-Man live a sinless life and die for the redemption of those who would trust in Him. Jesus Christ is God revealed and through Jesus’ atoning death, He brings us to a knowledge of God the Father as well as God the Holy Spirit so Jesus is able to reveal to us Who the Father and the Spirit are.

There are two types of revelation, General revelation and special revelation. They are the two ways God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity. General revelation refers to the general truths that can be known about God through nature. Special revelation refers to the more specific truths that can be known about God through the supernatural.

In regard to general revelation, Psalm 19:1-4(ESV) declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” According to this passage, God’s existence and power can be clearly seen through observing the universe. The order, intricacy, and wonder of creation speak to the existence of a powerful and glorious Creator.

General revelation is also taught in Romans 1:20(ESV) “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Like Psalm 19, this passage teaches that God’s eternal power and divine nature are “clearly seen” and “understood” from what has been made, and that there is no excuse for denying these facts. With these Scriptures in mind, perhaps a working definition of general revelation would be “the revelation of God to all people, at all times, and in all places that proves that God exists and that He is intelligent, powerful, and transcendent.” Even in the most remote areas there are people who acknowledge the existence of a higher being, a creator as the Native Americans called Him.

Special revelation is how God has chosen to reveal Himself through miraculous means. Special revelation includes physical appearances of God, dreams, visions, the written Word of God, and most importantly—Jesus Christ. The Bible records God appearing in physical form many times (Genesis 3:8, Genesis 18:1; Exodus 3:1-4, Exodus 34:5-7), and the Bible records God speaking to people through dreams (Genesis 28:12, Genesis 37:5; 1 Kings 3:5; Daniel 2) and visions (Genesis 15:1; Ezekiel 8:3-4; Daniel 7; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7).

One of the most important ways in the revealing God is His Word, the Bible, which is also a form of special revelation. God miraculously guided the authors of Scripture to correctly record His message to mankind, while still using their own styles and personalities. The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God is inspired, profitable, and sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God determined to have the truth regarding Him recorded in written form because He knew the inaccuracy and unreliability of oral tradition. He also understood that the dreams and visions of man can be misinterpreted. God decided to reveal everything that humanity needs to know about Him, what He expects, and what He has done for us in the Bible.

The ultimate form of special revelation is the Person of Jesus Christ. God became a human being (John 1:1(HCSB)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, John 1:14(HCSB)14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth..

The author of Hebrews summarizes it best Hebrews 1:1-3(HCSB) Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
God became a human being, in the Person of Jesus Christ, to identify with us, to set an example for us, to teach us, to reveal Himself to us, and, most importantly, to provide salvation for us by humbling Himself in death on the cross.
Philippians 2:6-8(HCSB)who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Jesus Christ is the ultimate “special revelation” from God.

03/15/17 eschatology

Eschatology is a Christian term that means the study of the end of history from a religious perspective. Christians generally hold various views concerning the end of the age. First of all, Christians agree with the immortality of the soul, acknowledging that man is composed of material and immaterial components. At death, the physical body dies but the immaterial essence of man, made up of his of his soul and spirit, lives in an eternal and conscious state either in heaven with Christ or in Hell, eternally separated from Him.

Secondly, the immaterial essence of man exists in an intermediate state awaiting the resurrection of the physical body, which will occur at a future time. Thirdly, the Bible teaches that at some appointed time, the physical body will be resurrected, transformed into its eternal state and united with the soul and spirit of the individual.

Fourthly, the Bible teaches that there will be a divine judgment at the end of the age when the righteous will receive their rewards and the unrighteous will be sentenced to the Lake of Fire. Furthermore, Christians agree that Christ will one day return physically to rule over the earth. Finally, all Christians look forward to the eternal state. Christ will one day create a new heaven and a new earth and judge evil once and for all. Afterwards, we will enter into the eternal state as described in Revelation 22.

These are some basic beliefs all evangelical Christians share in agreement. However, differences occur when attempting to interpret the millennial kingdom mentioned in Revelation 20:1-3(HCSB)Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years. He threw him into the abyss, closed it, and put a seal on it so that he would no longer deceive the nations until the 1,000 years were completed. After that, he must be released for a short time.. Questions such as whether the thousand-year rule of Christ should be interpreted literally or symbolically begin to arise. This leads to an even bigger issue of how the book of Revelation should be explained. Are we to interpret the prophecies literally or allegorically? Are these future prophecies or do they describe events in church history?

As we approach this study, we must understand that these are in-house debates among Christians. Our eschatological views should not divide the body of Christ. We should encourage and challenge one another to study the Scriptures and present reasons underlying a given theological position. Below is an overview of the three major positions in eschatology: premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism.

Premillennialism

The hallmark of premillennial eschatology is the literal interpretation of prophecy. Premillennial theologians teach that there will be a series of key events that occur before the millennial rule of Christ on earth. These events include the rapture of the church, a seven-year time of tribulation and the return of Christ to establish a thousand-year rule on earth. Premillennialists often adopt one of the three distinct rapture positions of pre-tribulation, post-tribulation or mid-tribulation.

Premillennialism: Christ’s Second coming before a literal one thousand-year period, known by some as a thousand-year sabbath, is preceded by a gradual deterioration of human society and behavior, and the expansion of evil through an endtime government or kingdom. This school of thought can be divided into three main interpretations: Dispensational, Mid-tribulation/Prewrath and Historic Premillennialism or Post-Tribulation viewpoint.

• Pre-tribulation Premillennialism or Dispensationalist View: The rapture of the church occurs just prior to the seven-year tribulation, where Christ returns for his saints to meet them in the air. This is followed by the tribulation, the rise of the Antichrist to world-rule, the return of Christ to the Mount of Olives, and Armageddon, resulting in a literal 1000-year millennial reign of the Messiah, centered in restored Jerusalem.

Prewrath/Mid-tribulation View: The rapture of the church occurs in the midst of the seven-year period. Mid-tribulation view holds that the rapture occurs halfway through; Prewrath holds that the rapture occurs some time in the midst of the tribulation in the latter 3.5 years, but before God’s wrath is poured out upon the nations.

Historic Premillennialism or Post-Tribulation View: The rapture of the church (the body of true believers) happens after a period of great tribulation, with the church being caught up to meet Christ in the air and will accompany him to earth to share in his (literal or figurative) thousand year rule.

Postmillennialism

Postmillennial theology teaches that the Church will be triumphant as a result of the Church Christianizing the world. After this, Christ will then return, upon which believers will enter the eternal state. Postmillennialists, therefore, apply a more allegorical approach to their interpretation of the book of Revelation. Postmillennialism is the doctrine which affirms that through the work of the Spirit in Christian preaching and teaching in the present time of the church (before the second advent) the world at large will eventually be evangelized and won to Christ. This will turn out in a world characterized by universal peace instead of strife, universal prosperity instead of inequality, godliness instead of evil, and so on, though the time period may be more or less than a thousand years (since, according to some postmill interpreters, the 1000 years of Revelation 20:4-7(HCSB)Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the people who had been beheaded[b] because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God’s word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power[c] over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years. can be taken symbolically for an indefinite period of time) and evil will still be present to some limited degree. Thus there is a focus in postmillennarian thought on the present aspects of the kingdom of God with the result that through Christian influence many economic, educational and social ills will be resolved. Postmillennialism: Christ‘s Second coming is seen as occurring after the one-thousand years, which many in this school of thought believe is ushered in by the church.

Amillennialism

Amillennialism can be deciphered by its title. “A” preceding millennium means this view teaches there is no future millennial earthly rule of Christ sitting on David’s throne. This stance also employs an allegorical interpretation and non-literal approach to prophecy. The events mentioned in the book of Revelation is being played out presently in the church age. Revelation reveals that the situation in the world will worsen before Christ returns. According to the amillennialists’ beliefs, Christ will one day return not to establish a millennial rule on earth but to usher in the eternal state. Amillennialists believe that God’s promises regarding the end times are figurative and will not be literally fulfilled, particularly the 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. Non-literal “thousand years” or long age between Christ’s first and second comings; the millennial reign of Christ as pictured in the book of Revelation is viewed as Christ reigning at the right hand of the Father. Therefore, another name for it is “realized millennialism”, because it emphasizes an inaugurated future in the first coming of Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit in the Pentecost. It is the view held by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches as well as by a number of the older Protestant denominations, such as the Lutherans, Calvinists, and Anglicans. Generally speaking, the term “amillennial” refers to the conviction, held by many godly and informed Christian scholars down through the ages, that there will be no future, earthly millennial period after Christ’s return. This, however, is to view the system from a purely negative point of view. Positively stated, amillennialism believes that the church is the expression of the millennial reign of Christ now, where “millennial” is understood to refer not to a literal thousand year period—though some reformers understood it this way but to the reign of Christ as experienced between his exaltation and parousia(word meaning presence, arrival, or official visit). This reign is over the new people of God, the church, which replaces Israel in the outworking of God’s eternal plan.

•Preterism: Many prophecies have already occurred in the past; This view denotes a 1st-century fulfillment concerning the literary text; real events have already transpired. Some events may be symbolic of other fulfillments, thus taking a symbolic interpretation of the text.

Pre-Trib Rapture debunked

1.      Rapture doctrine is one of the most recent “new doctrines” in the history of the Church. The only doctrine more recent is the invention of the sinner’s prayer for salvation by Billy Sunday in 1930, which was made popular by Billy Graham in 1935.

2.      The fact that John Nelson Darby invented the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine around 1830 AD is unquestionably true. All attempts to find evidence of this wild doctrine before 1830 have failed, with a single exception: Morgan Edwards wrote a short essay as a college paper for Bristol Baptist College in Bristol England in 1744 where he confused the second coming with the first resurrection of Revelation 20 and described a “pre-tribulation” rapture. However Edwards ideas, which he admitted were brand new and never before taught, had no influence in the modern population of the false doctrine. That prize to goes to Darby.

3.      Prior to 1830, no church taught it in their creed, catechism or statement of faith.

4.      Darby has had a profound impact on religion today, since Darby’s “secret rapture” false doctrine has infected most conservative, evangelical churches. While the official creeds and statements of faith of many churches either reject or are silent about Rapture, neither do they openly condemn this doctrine of a demon from the pulpit.

5.      While not all dispensationalists believe in the Rapture. All those who teach the Rapture also believe in premillennialism. Both groups use Israel’s modern statehood status of 1948 to be a beginning of a countdown to the end.

6.      All premillennialists, rapturists and dispensationalists alive today believe the Bible reveals the general era of when Christ will return. The date setters of the 1800’s (Seventh-day Adventists who are date setting premillennialists who reject the rapture, Jehovah’s Witnesses who have set many dates) based their predictions upon speculative arrangements of numbers and chronologies in the Bible. Today’s date setters without exception wrongly believe that Israel gaining state hood in 1948 fulfilled Bible prophecy and that Christ would return within one generation.

If you are a premillennialist, whether dispensational or not, there are several things with which you must reckon:

• You must necessarily believe that physical death will continue to exist beyond the time of Christ’s second coming.

• You must necessarily believe that the natural creation will continue, beyond the time of Christ’s second coming, to be subjected to the curse imposed by the Fall of man.

• You must necessarily believe that the New Heavens and New Earth will not be introduced until 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

• You must necessarily believe that unbelieving men and women will still have the opportunity to come to saving faith in Christ for at least 1,000 years subsequent to his return.

• You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally resurrected until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

• You must necessarily believe that unbelievers will not be finally judged and cast into eternal punishment until at least 1,000 years subsequent to the return of Christ.

So what’s wrong with believing these things, asks the premillennialist? What’s wrong is that these many things that premillennialists must believe (because of the way they interpret Scripture), the NT explicitly denies. In other words, in my study of the second coming of Christ I discovered that, contrary to what premillennialism requires us to believe, death is defeated and swallowed up in victory at the parousia, the natural creation is set free from its bondage to corruption at the parousia, the New Heavens and the New Earth are introduced immediately following the parousia, all opportunity to receive Christ as savior terminates at the parousia, and both the final resurrection and eternal judgment of unbelievers will occur at the time of the parousia. Simply put, the NT portrayals of the second coming of Christ forced me to conclude that a millennial age, subsequent to Christ’s return, of the sort proposed by premillennialism was impossible.

The second factor that turned me from premillennialism to amillennialism was a study of Revelation 20, the text cited by all premillennialists in support of their theory. Contrary to what I had been taught and long believed, I came to see Revelation 20 as a strong and immovable support for the amillennial perspective.

NO Rapture

I do not believe in the rapture. I believe what Jesus taught. There is 1 second coming, not a second coming for the church then another second coming after the tribulation. The purpose of Christians on this earth is the great commission, to proclaim the gospel to the lost, to reach people for the kingdom. If Jesus “raptures” the church(the ekklesia, the bride, the Christians) then there is no more need for any people to be left on earth since the very essence of what we the church is here for is now removed. Pretrib, post trib, mid trib rapture is not biblical, it is not what the whole bible is about. I call it escapism mentality, the mentality that we will escape the evils of this world. If that was true and that was God’s design for humanity then the minute we would accept Christ he would “rapture” us up. 

Matthew 13:24-30(HCSB)24 He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds[a] among the wheat, and left. 26 When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. 27 The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this!’ he told them. “‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him. 29 “‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.’”

It is so clear that we need not second guess what is going to happen. So what are we told in the pre-tribulation rapture theory? We are told that Christ will “gather” His people BEFORE the tribulation and separate the “wheat and the tares” BEFORE the harvest. And yet what does it clearly state in the Bible verse above? That the separation only takes place AT the harvest.

 

According to those who hold to the pre-trib rapture theory, the harvest takes place BEFORE the tribulation and BEFORE the end of the world. This is clearly what they believe because according to this teaching, the world continues for another 7 years and then another 1000 years AFTER the rapture. Well, what does Christ Jesus our Teacher say about this?

Matthew 13:38-40(HCSB)38 the field is the world; and the good seed—these are the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 

The church and the wicked continue to live together on earth until the END OF THE WORLD. And it is only at the end of the world that the separation takes place. The pre-trib rapture theory is now blown to bits by the Word of God!

Please understand that VITAL point. The rapture theory teaches a separation BEFORE the end. But the Bible clearly teaches that there is NO separation before the end.

This also proves the mid-tribulation rapture teaching to be false

Those who hold to the mid-tribulation rapture theory, believe (just like the pre-trib teachers), that the separation takes place BEFORE the end of the world. But as we have shown from the Bible above, the separation takes place ONLY at the end of the world. Need more proof? Take a look at these Bible verses and you will notice that the focus is NOT about the church being taken away before the end, but rather AT the end of the world and the LAST DAY.

John 6:40

John 11:24

John 12:48

 

Eternal life is given on the LAST DAY. The resurrection happens on the LAST DAY. Judgment is given on the LAST DAY.

Notice also what Jesus says in Matthew 28:20(HCSB) teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”… Now why would Jesus reassure us that He would be with us until the END OF THE WORLD, if we were to be raptured away BEFORE the end of the world?

 

Matthew 24:37-42(HCSB)37 As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 38 For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. 39 They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be: 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.

This is such a misunderstood passage of scripture today. Take a look at the context of the above Bible verses. Do you see that Jesus is telling us that His second coming will be like what happened in Noah’s day? And what happened in the days of Noah? The above verse tells us. The flood DESTROYED the earth, taking away the wicked and leaving behind God’s people (Noah’s family). Who was “taken away” and who was “left behind” in Noah’s day? Take a look at the above verses again. It was the wicked who were TAKEN and Noah was LEFT BEHIND! And this is what Christ is pointing us to. He is saying that the day is coming when the earth will be destroyed again and the wicked will be TAKEN and the saints will be LEFT BEHIND.

Jesus is pointing to the “END OF THE WORLD”. Just like it was the “end of the world” in Noah’s day when the flood came.

And what did we already confirm would happen during the harvest at the end? Let’s read(Matthew 13:24-30(HCSB) He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds[e] among the wheat, and left. 26 When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. 27 The landowner’s slaves came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this!’ he told them. “‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him. 29 “‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn.’”) … The wicked are “taken” first and the saints are left behind to then be “gathered into My barn” (taken to heaven).

The whole context of Matthew 24 is a warning for us to “watch and be ready” so that the “sudden destruction” that is to come upon the world (1 Thessalonians 5:3(HCSB)3 When they say, “Peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains come on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. will not TAKE US by surprise. Just like what happened in Noah’s day. Who were taken? The wicked. Who were left behind? Noah and his family!
Many people in these churches take for granted that this is what the Bible teaches. They may be surprised to discover that no biblical text specifically and unambiguously mentions believers being removed before the final tribulation. That limitation may be why we have no clear record of any interpreter noticing the view in the Bible before 1830. The view was held by none of the church fathers, none of the Reformers such as Luther or Calvin, none of the leaders in various evangelical revival movements such as John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, or even heretic Charles Finney. I am reasonably certain that today the majority of evangelical biblical scholars (as well as virtually all other Christian biblical scholars) reject it.

Passages in the Bible do teach that Jesus will return, that he will gather his followers, and that he will bring justice by punishing those who chose evil rather than truth. Passages also promise a subsequent future of justice and peace. By showing that God values justice and peace, such passages also invite his followers to work for such values now. Some New Testament passages further share the ancient Jewish expectation of a period of end-time tribulation, although scholars debate what this means. (Many of us address these questions more fully in our Revelation commentaries; to remain concise, I simply summarize here.)

But no scripture passage that is interpreted correctly supports Christians being “raptured” before the tribulation. The Book of Revelation describes sufferings, many of which characterize much of the world we live in. But while Revelation depicts God protecting at least some of his people from his own judgment, it nowhere mentions Christians being removed. Revelation’s first full description of Jesus’s coming, as well as its first mention of what many construe as Christians’ resurrection (“the first resurrection”) appear toward the end of the book (Revelation 19:11-16; 20:4-5). Throughout Revelation’s middle section, God’s servants suffer on earth and, after death, worship in heaven.

To argue that a rapture precedes Revelation’s tribulation, some appeal to Revelation 4:1, where a voice invites John, “Come up here!” But this voice invites John’s vision, not the church’s rapture (compare 17:1; 21:9). More persuasively, some appeal to Jesus’s promise to some Christians in 3:10: “I will keep you from the hour of testing.” The wording, however, can mean “protect from while there” (as in John 17:15)–an understanding that better fits the rest of Revelation.

Many counter with 2 Thessalonians 2:3-7, where a restrainer is removed before the coming of the ultimate wicked ruler (what many call the “antichrist”). Readers propose a vast range of interpretations here, but one view that context prohibits is that the passage describes Christians’ “rapture.” The wicked ruler comes before Jesus’s coming to gather his people (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3(HCSB)Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him: We ask you, brothers, not to be easily upset in mind or troubled, either by a spirit or by a message or by a letter as if from us, alleging that the Day of the Lord[a] has come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction., when Jesus will destroy that wicked ruler (2 Thessalonians 2:8(HCSB)and then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and will bring him to nothing with the brightness of His coming.. Further in the context, Jesus’s followers do not receive final exemption from sufferings until his public return to judge the world.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-10(HCSB)It is a clear evidence of God’s righteous judgment that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also are suffering, since it is righteous for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to reward with rest you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction from the Lord’s presence and from His glorious strength 10 in that day when He comes to be glorified by His saints and to be admired by all those who have believed, because our testimony among you was believed.

Finally, some contend that Christians will escape God’s “wrath” (citing Paul in 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9). But elsewhere in Paul’s letters deliverance from God’s wrath means that Jesus’s followers are forgiven because of him (Romans 5:9). It does not refer to escaping tribulation. Even when Revelation uses the Greek term that Paul uses here, it refers to final judgment, not a preceding tribulation. (Revelation may use a different Greek term for God’s anger during tribulation, but even that Greek term refers more often to the final judgment.)

I would challenge the view’s advocates to reread the Bible as honestly as possible with this question in mind: If you had never been taught either way, would you recognize a clear gathering of believers before a future tribulation, or would you identify that gathering with what happens at Jesus’s return after tribulation (e.g., Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:24-27)?

Was Jesus Always God?

Christianity proclaims that the trinity (father, son, and Holy Spirit) is the godhead 3 in 1. They are not separate gods, not separate deities. Most other religions deny Jesus’ deity. They may claim He is a good man, a great prophet, but won’t come to confess that He is God without the Holy Spirit you can’t. 1 Corinthians 12:1-3(HCSB) Now concerning what comes from the Spirit: brothers, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you used to be led off to the idols that could not speak. 3 Therefore I am informing you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

John 1:1(HCSB)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was with God in the beginning.3 All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. 5 That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it.

Genesis 1:26-28(HCSB)26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl[i] on the earth.”27 So God created man in His own image;He created him in the image of God;He created them male and female. 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

There is a lot of evidence of Jesus being God. All throughout Scriptures, and even from the mouth of Jesus Himself, it is stated that He is God. Jesus says He and the Father are one. When did Jesus know that He was God? From the heavenly perspective, the Son knew from eternity past who He was and what His earthly work was to be. From the earthly perspective, the incarnate Jesus came to that realization at some point early in life. Just when that point was, we cannot know for sure.

John 10:30-33(HCSB) The Father and I are one.”31 Again the Jews picked up rocks to stone Him. 32 Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. Which of these works are you stoning Me for?” 33“We aren’t stoning You for a good work,” the Jews answered, “but for blasphemy, because You—being a man—make Yourself God.”

Colossians 2:8-10(HCSB) Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ. 9 For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, 10 and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

John 1:14(HCSB)The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory,the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus was always God. From eternity past He has been the second Person of the Trinity, and He always will be. The question of when the human Jesus knew that He was God is interesting, but it is not addressed in Scripture. We know that, as an adult, Jesus fully realized who He was, expressing it this way: John 8:58(HCSB) Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.”. And when He prayed, John 17:5(ESV) “Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began”

As a child, Jesus was already aware of His nature and work. When Jesus was twelve years old, his family went to Jerusalem. On their way back, they were concerned about Jesus’ being missing from their caravan. They returned to Jerusalem and found Jesus Luke 2:41-52(HCSB)41 Every year His parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. 42 When He was 12 years old, they went up according to the custom of the festival. 43 After those days were over, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but His parents did not know it. 44 Assuming He was in the traveling party, they went a day’s journey. Then they began looking for Him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for Him. 46 After three days, they found Him in the temple complex sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all those who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers. 48 When His parents saw Him, they were astonished, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for You.” 49 “Why were you searching for Me?” He asked them. “Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand what He said to them. 51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.Whatever those around Him did not grasp, it seems that Jesus, at a very young age, did know that He was the Son of God and that the Father had foreordained the work He was to do.

After the incident in the temple, Luke says, Luke 2:52(HCSB)52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people. Wisdom is the skillful use of knowledge. Jesus grew in the skillful use of knowledge.  If at this point in Jesus’ human experience He knew everything, He would not need to “grow in wisdom.” We emphasize that this was Jesus’ human experience. Jesus never ceased being God, but in some matters He veiled His divinity in accordance with the Father’s will. Thus, the Son subjected Himself to physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual growth.We do not know if he always knew he was divine, even in the womb, or if he realized it later on. Each position has its difficulties. After all, Jesus was made under the Law.

Galatians 4:4(HCSB)4 When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, and he cooperated with the limitations of being a man.

Philippians 2:5-8(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. Does this require that he also did not know who he was at birth? Not at all. Did the divine nature go “dormant” when Jesus was a baby? The divine nature requires that he knows all things. However, we see in the Gospels that Jesus, for example, did not know the day nor the hour of his return.Matthew 24:36-44(HCSB)36 “Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son[q] —except the Father only. 37 As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 38 For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. 39 They didn’t know until the flood came and swept them all away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be: 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this: If the homeowner had known what time[t] the thief was coming, he would have stayed alert and not let his house be broken into. 44 This is why you also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. It seems in this case he is cooperating with the limitations of being a man since he was made under the law, but this does not mean he did not know who he was in his divinity.

Since the Scriptures do not give us enough information to answer the question, we cannot say when Jesus came to know that he was God in flesh. So, we should not try and answer the question since we could end up in error.

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

Philippians Pt9 I can do all things

Philippians 4:8-14(HCSB)8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. 9 Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity to show it. 11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. 14 Still, you did well by sharing with me in my hardship.

In Philippians 4:8 Paul exhorts us to develop a Christian thought life. Practicing verse 8 is essential if we want to develop and maintain healthy relationships. A Christian thought life is also integral to a life of joy (4:4) and peace (4:6-7) in every situation. Since our thoughts form our behavior, a godly thought life is also essential for the obedience to the scriptures and to a Christian life. Clearly, Paul’s thought life was at the heart of the what he had learned in every situation (Philippians 4:10-12(ESV) 10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity to show it. 11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. So Paul is telling us the way to be whole people in our relationships with God, with one another, and within ourselves. “A beautiful mind is a terrible thing to waste” is an advertising slogan for the UNCF, and it is so true. God has blessed us with an amazing combination of physical abilities and a brain to help us think, plan, work, and enjoy life. So God wants to bless, strengthen, renew, guard and bless our minds, as we focus our thoughts and actions on him. Luke 10:27(HCSB)27 He answered:Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.

Romans 8:6-(HCSB)6 For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. 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. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since[g] the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

We don’t know what we like we like what we know. We are constantly in a state of being told what to like by TV, media, music, magazines, advertisements, etc.

Those things are constantly shaping the way we think, act, talk, walk, dress, eat, spend our time, etc.

What we take in greatly affects our attitudes, thinking and acting.

Garbage in Garbage out

Romans 12:1-2(HCSB)Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

But before we look specifically at what Paul is teaching and how to obey it, we need to think about:

I. What Paul is NOT teaching: the power of positive thinking.

I need to focus on this for a moment because the Christian world has been infiltrated with the false teaching of “positive thinking,” popularized by Norman Vincent Peale and, with only slight variations, by Peale’s protege, Robert Schuller. If you are at all familiar with the teachings of these men, you know that they are not Christian in any orthodox sense of the term, even though they both have been welcomed into evangelical circles. Through their influence, the idea has crept into the American church that it is wrong ever to be negative or critical. This has resulted in the loss of discernment.

On July 27, 2009, the cover of “Sports Illustrated” featured an image of Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow then he went off to play for the Denver Broncos. The headline—“Tim Tebow: Man of Many Missions”—riffed on the way he’d created a fan frenzy with his unique blend of faith and football. The championship quarterback seemed poised to jump off the glossy cover with pursed lips that oozed determination and a simple Bible verse scribbled within the black grease underneath his eyes: “Phil. 4:13.”

Tebow’s highly churched Southern fan base didn’t need to look up the passage. No, most of them knew it by heart: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13 is one of the most popular verses in any of the 66 books of the Christian Bible, having been printed on millions of key chains and t-shirts, cellphone cases and coffee mugs. (If one wanted to argue the trinketization of Christianity, this Bible verse would be a good starting point.)

But it also one of the misunderstood, misused, and misinterpreted.

Like Tebow, Philippians 4:13 functions as a kind of mystical incantation for many Christians. They recite the passage when they need to draw power from another place to defeat an enemy or conquer a difficult task. It’s a talisman like Green Lantern’s ring or mind sorcery like Dr. Strange.

Need an example? Joel Osteen, self improvement motivational speaker of the largest evangelical mega-country club in America provided the following commentary on Philippians 4:13 in the January 21, 2013 edition of his “Today’s Word” devotional:

Most people tend to magnify their limitations. They focus on their shortcomings. But scripture makes it plain: all things are possible to those who believe. That’s right! It is possible to see your dreams fulfilled. It is possible to overcome that obstacle. It is possible to climb to new heights. It is possible to embrace your destiny. You may not know how it will all take place. You may not have a plan, but all you have to know is that if God said you can…you can!

This is an example of the way many Christians today understand and interpret this verse. For them, the “all things” that Christ empowers them to accomplish includes fulfilling their dreams, climbing to new heights, and embracing their destinies.

Do you want that job promotion? To find your soul mate? Have better sex with your spouse? Make more money?  No problem. You can accomplish “all things through Christ.” Unfortunately, this way of interpreting and applying Philippians 4:13 couldn’t be further from its actual meaning. To understand what Paul, the author of Philippians, actually meant, we have to read the verse in context.

Philippians is one of the “prison epistles,” which is to say, it was written during one of the many times Paul was a jailbird. So it isn’t surprising that the book draws heavily on the themes of humility and self-sacrifice. When you imagine Paul penning this letter in a dank first-century prison cell—not exactly the new heights and destiny imagined above—you already begin to feel uncomfortable about popular interpretations.

But more than the setting, we must recognize that Philippians 4:13 is part of a larger idea. When we look at verses 11 and 12, the thought begins to take shape:

Philippians 4:11-12(HCSB)11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.

Paul isn’t telling Christians that they should dream bigger dreams; he is reminding them that they can endure the crushing feeling of defeat if those dreams aren’t realized. He’s not encouraging Christians to go out and conquer the world; he’s reminding them that they can press on when the world conquers them.

Contrary to popular belief, the Bible does not teach “God will give you the strength to do whatever you set your mind to.” (Actually, anytime a foundational view in your theology begins with, “God will give you”, stop and do a double-check.) [tweetable]God is not a heavenly bellhop or divine sugar daddy or cosmic power plant to fuel your dream-quest.[/tweetable] Instead, the Bible teaches, God is a sustainer when life feels unsustainable.

And if you’re like me, this is a “good news” message. Because my experience is that life is messy and thorny and unpredictable and chock full of disappointments. Most of them, a result of my own doing. I don’t need a God who motivates me to pursue my career dreams or chase down opportunities for personal advancement. I possess that drive on my own. Instead, I need a God who hunkers down in life’s trenches with me, who isn’t afraid to get mucky and messy and wade with me through tragedy and pain and failure.

The God of the Bible—Jesus—is better than we’ve imagined because he gives us what we actually need: strength to survive our moments of weakness and a sense of freedom even in life’s prisons.

Go write that under your eyes.

The positive thinking heresy has further spread through the so-called “Positive Confession” heresy, also called the “Health and Wealth” or “Name it and Claim it” teaching, that whatever you confess positively by faith, God must do it. This heresy attributes power to faith itself, and says that even if you are sick, you must not give a negative confession by admitting it, but must claim your healing by affirming, “I am well!”

Also a number of purportedly Christian sales companies or successful salesmen have utilized a form of this error through a sales motivational teaching called “positive mental attitude.” You’re never supposed to entertain negative thoughts. You’re supposed to use “positive self-talk,” have faith in yourself, and visualize yourself as successful and wealthy so that it will become a reality.

All of these errors are based on the heresy of Science of Mind, taught by Ernest Holmes, the founder of the Church of Religious Science, that your mind can create reality, that through thinking positively, you can do anything or achieve any success you want. The variations mentioned above, though claiming to be Christian and appealing to Philippians 4:8 as support, are satanic in that they appeal to the flesh, promote self, and do not confront people with the need to be subject to the lordship of Christ. (Dave Hunt deals with many of these errors in his two books, The Seduction of Christianity and Beyond Seduction [both by Harvest House].) But, clearly, Paul is not teaching the power of positive thinking in Philippians 4:8.

Since as fallen creatures we are prone to Satan’s lies and deception, the only way we can know the truth and walk in it is to steep ourselves in God’s Word. We should know the Word so well that we automatically run everything we encounter through the grid of God’s Word. We live in a day that is geared toward emotions and strongly influenced by the supposed “virtue” of tolerance. Our culture assumes that love means being tolerant and accepting of everyone and everything, even if God’s Word plainly declares that something is an abomination. If you go with the flow, you will be carried far from God’s absolute standard of moral truth as revealed in His Word.

We also must resist the pragmatism of our culture, which determines the true by whatever works. If something works, which means, it brings you happiness (at least at the moment) or it accomplishes what you want, then it must be true. But God’s Word doesn’t always line up with what works. In fact, it’s clear that sin often brings pleasure for a season; if it didn’t we wouldn’t be so enticed by it. Many of the “positive mental attitude” methods are effective in making you a successful sales person. But the question is, Are they biblical? We must test everything by God’s Word, not by feelings or pragmatism.

Before a person knows Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, he has a depraved mind (Romans 1:28(HCSB)28 And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong.. He lives in the lusts of his flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind (Ephesians 2:3(HCSB)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. God must supernaturally raise us from our state of being dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1(HCSB) and impart to us a new nature that is able to obey Him (Ephesians 4:22-24(HCSB)22 You took off[a] your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.. Paul says that “the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:7-9(ESV). As he goes on to explain, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to put to death the deeds of the flesh and to live in obedience to God.

Listen to and read sermons from godly men. The sermons and commentaries of John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, J. C. Ryle, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and other giants of the faith are available in print. Read the biographies of these and other godly men and women. With a few exceptions, avoid most of the modern Christian best sellers, and spend your time reading the works that have stood the test of time. These men walked with God, and they will feed your soul.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (ESV)For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

As believers, we are no longer conformed to this world because we no longer belong to the spirit of this age.

Colossians 1:13-14 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

Therefore, rather than continuing to conform to this world, we are to be transformed by having our minds renewed.

Where do we put our time and energy? Do we spend more time thinking about the things of the flesh, or do we spend more time on God’s word and the application of it in our lives? Whatever you do, it will be seen by your fruit, whether it be the fruit of the spirit, or the fruit of the flesh. Where we get into difficulties though is when we think it is okay to mix the two, for they cannot live together in harmony, they are opposite to each other. We have to put in a lot of time with the spirit to overcome the natural flesh. One of the most difficult things to overcome with man’s thinking is being stuck in the present, rather than thinking like God and thinking beyond to the future kingdom. We can get stuck with all the human activities that take up our time, the lusts and pleasures of the world. We can get bogged down with trying to acquire possessions, or money, or worldly status.

1 Timothy 6:7-8(HCSB)For we brought nothing into the world,and we can take nothing out. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.

That’s completely opposite to worldly thinking. The world bombards us with marketing telling us that unless we have the newest, the biggest and the best we will never be happy. But God says,

Matthew 6:33(HCSB) 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.

Seek the kingdom of God first, not second, and then whatever else is deemed necessary will be added. We can really see the difference between the mind of God and the mind of man here. The natural eyes of man see a beautiful Ferrari or Lamborghini, it sees a magnificent mansion, it sees a high flying executive job with an office at the top of a wonderful skyscraper, it sees endless holidays on a hot sunny Mediterranean beach. I’m sure you can think of many other things too. It would be so easy if Satan came as a red man with horns and a tail but he comes as your hearts desire, he comes after you with the things of this world that captivate your attention. When our attention is on the world and not on the kingdom we become susceptible to being deceived with things that are not sinful in itself but easily becomes an idol. It is interesting to note that Paul says that we must be transformed by the renewing of our “minds.” The mind is the key to the Christian life. The reason why non-Christians do not respond to Christian truth is because they cannot discern spiritual truth

1 Corinthians 2:14 But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 

The gospel is a call for the unbeliever to repent of his sin and embrace Christ by faith. The Greek word Metanoia translated “repentance” carries the notion of a change of mind. Our thinking must be changed (transformed) from old, ungodly ways of thinking into new, godly ways of thinking. What we know in our minds to be true forms a conviction in our hearts of that truth, and that conviction in our hearts translates into action. Therefore, we must first renew our minds.The only way to replace the error of the world’s way of thinking is to replace it with God’s truth, and the only infallible source of God’s truth is found in his revealed word, the Bible. Transformation through renewed minds comes as believers expose themselves to God’s Word through the faithful teaching of it each week in church, prayer, worship, personal Bible study and group Bible study. A solid church that believes in preaching the Word, reading the Word and singing the Word is invaluable in helping us renew our minds.

James 1:5-8(ESV)5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.