Posts tagged ‘religion’

The Parable of the Sower

All who have read the Bible are familiar with this parable in Mat 13. It principally states four different outcomes in the delivery of the Gospel. These four outcomes are as follows

1. The Gospel is not received at all by the person
2. The Gospel is received, but the man has no root in himself (v21) i.e. the word of God does not become the foundation of his life. He is not standing on the rock that is Christ and so he falls away rather than being sanctified in affliction.
3. The Gospel is received but this person attempts to serve two masters: money and the Lord. But as much as this person thinks he is in Christ, he is deceiving himself because the branch cannot bear fruit unless it abides in the vine i.e. Christ.
4. The good soil alone is the Christian example, it must be understood here that the good soil is not good by itself; you may want to consider the example of John the Baptist. It was prophesied of him to make straight the way of the Lord in John 1:23 and so John preached a Baptism of Repentance. But repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer (Acts 11:18 Acts 5:31). So just as a farmer treats the soil to receive the seed. The Spirit readies the foreordained believer to receive Christ.

There are many who read the parables as plainly as the morning newspaper but for some reason these same people cannot come to terms with what Mat 13:10-15 plainly says. It seems so hard for these seemingly Bible believing Christians to understand that God hates the reprobate and loves the Church. As blasphemous as this may sound: the school of thought that says God hates sin but loves the sinner, attempts bring God to the feet of the unbeliever in believing that God’s love is subject to human volition in being reciprocated. Contrarily scripture states that we love because he loved us first i.e. had it not been for His love, we would not have the capacity to love Him beyond our flesh. 1 John 4:19 is therefore seen as matter of ‘cause and effect’ i.e. the absence of the effect means only the absence of the cause.

To oppose this many people may bring scripture showing that Jesus received and ate with sinners but it is interesting to note that Jesus detested the seemingly righteous Pharisees of his time. Since the Bible is internally consistent, an interpretation of scripture is only valid if it harmonizes with the rest of the Bible. Hence when Christ says that that He came to call sinners and not the righteous: so speaking in the light of Romans 3:23, it means to say He came to calls only those who had been prepared for Him in repentance. Take the Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, scripture ridicules the self righteousness of the Pharisee saying in Luke 18:11 that the Pharisee’s prayers were said to himself not God.

John 12
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.26 If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

The response of the servant who was given one talent in the parable of talents can also be seen in the context of parable of the sower.

Mat 25
24 “And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed.25 And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’
26 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed.27 Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.28 Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’

Mat 13 (from the parable of the sower)
12 For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.

From Mat 13:12 we see the Godly reproach upon the wicked servant in Mat 25. Notice the phrase: ‘whoever has’ and ‘whoever does not have’, it does not say ‘whoever has MUCH’ or ‘whoever has little’. It becomes only the question of having or not having. So when we see this in the context of the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Talents, the ‘has’ and ‘does not have’ becomes a question that is answered in Mat 13:11.

Mat 13
11 Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.

2 Timothy 1
9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,

So we see from 2 Tim 1:9 that the calling does not materialize unless it has been granted unto us in Christ according to His own purpose. To the antinomian the call to Christ is a call to a grace separate from the Law but that is not so because it is a call to obedience unto the Moral Law of God. The Gospel actually gives the believer a new heart to walk in statutes of God and follow His Law (Ezek 36:26-27). What the antinomians refers to as the weakness of the Law, was in actual a weakness of the people not the Law (Heb 8:7-8). The Law was meant to convict transgression and so sin got it power to kill from the Law but when man is born of the Spirit as stated in John 3:5 he receives the salvation of Christ and comes to life fulfilling the requirements of the Law (Moral not Ceremonial) in obedience because he now has a new heart upon which is written the Law of God.

Romans 8
3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

We therefore come to understand that in the very beginning God chose a people unto Himself and blessed them consecrating them as priest whom He would love and bring them to know Him and worship Him forever. We see that such a blessing can only come out of grace, His grace. In Eden man disobediently took a righteousness of self that is contrary to the righteousness of God. This self righteousness of man, has seen man see himself differently from the way God sees him, which has been in effect ever since the fall. Like the parable of the laborers in the vineyard who grumble against their Master concerning their wages, so too we see man grumble in regards to the doctrine of Sovereign Election because it makes no sense according to the self righteousness he has come to possess. God’s ways are not man’s ways so the Bible says and so the ‘parable of the sower’ tells us how the Sovereignty of God extends to the elect that He draws them through the Holy Spirit’s sanctification, out of the corruptions that has become of their nature and selves. This is the power of Almighty God that even angels look on (1 Peter 1:12) to see His Salvation at work in His elect.

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His Bride – His Church

For a God who is love, what else can be the motivating factor for His people to be obedient to Him? It is love! If tomorrow, a believer chooses not to partake in any way, in the worship of any other god, his conviction is the love that comes from the faithfulness, like that of a wife to her husband. The intimacy this bride is to share with her Groom that is Christ, that relationship can be shared with no other, for such will be playing the harlot to her Groom who is God Himself.

The body of believers is who the Church is and she is His bride. Her beauty is seen in her conviction and obedience to Him for that declares her love to her God eternal (John 14:15). Just as Adam could not build a relationship with any of the animals as he did so with Eve, because she was made in his likeness. In the same way God cannot build a relationship with His Church, unless He sanctifies her into His likeness and that is one reason why we are called to continuously grow into Jesus’ likeness. This amazement with which Adam then un-fallen first looked at Eve (Gen 2:22-23) can give one the idea of how Christ looks on (SnSol 4) as His Spirit sanctifies His Church.

Rev 19:17
7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”

Those who wait on Him in trust have their records of sin wiped to the extent that they come to be called virgins who wait for their groom and He is Sovereign to the extent that the love they have for Him is what He has given them through His Spirit (Mat 25:1-13). This love for God is so zealous that it makes the believer see the fear of the Lord in waiting on Christ in trust, which is clean and enduring forever; such people are deemed righteous according to his judgment.

Psalms 19
9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.

This bride’s beauty is in her meekness because it is her Groom who chooses her out of the world (John 15:16), for reasons over which He is completely sovereign. Just as father Abraham made his servant take an oath in Gen 24 that he would not bring Isaac a wife from among the Canaanites but from among his own people. In the same way our Heavenly Father sends the Holy Spirit to search out for His Son a bride from only those whom He has called and that is His Church (Mat 22:14). The Holy Spirit with His Church invites the ‘called’ to come receive the free gift of Salvation, which He paid for with His life.

John 6
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.45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’

Rev 22
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.

So His bride and His Church say unto God: I love you Jesus Christ!

Sovereign grace Vs Legalism and Antinomianism

There are large numbers of Christians, who have become subject to views of antinomianism or those which are legalistic. Legalism is that which says that one is saved purely by works of Law while Antinomians hold a view that the grace of God covers them to the extent that even though their carnal nature is not made subject to true repentance, they are still saved because of grace. Mat 1:21 speaks to both these extreme apostate ideas by showing the legalist that Salvation is in Christ alone, while it shows the antinomians that Christ’ deliverance is not “in our sins” but “from our sins”

Mat 1:21
21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

A preacher once said: one can only enjoy the benefits of Christ’ Cross when he bows before the claims of Christ’ Crown. What this refers to is essentially that one truly receives Christ in his life only when he receives Him as SAVIOR AND LORD. For those who try to merit Salvation it shows they have not truly received Christ as their Savior and for those whose nature shows no elements of any sanctification, they have not truly received Jesus as their Lord.

Sanctification is the work of His Spirit. To many believers, the Holy Spirit is generally associated with how much noise can be made at a spiritual gathering. The work of the Holy Spirit is very deep and for one to associate the Spirit primarily with the gift of tongues today is almost blasphemous. The gift of tongues was given only to the early Church, who did not have the compilation of the Bible, once the Bible was compiled in about the third or fourth century, the gift of tongues and prophesies ceased because the Bible is complete and sufficient to edify the Christian and cursed is that person who tries to add or take away from it. It is for this reason, that the many noise makers in spiritual gathering do not find one interpreter today for three of these people who are said to have this gift of tongues.

Quoting from the Nicene Creed, which was a faith declaration of the early Church, this is what is stated when it speaks of the Holy Spirit: “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life”. We know when God created Adam from the soil, He breathed life into Him. We also know that scripture in God breathed. So though it was His Holy Spirit, that God had put into Adam to give him life, which Adam lost in his disobedience. In the same way the Word of God in the Bible, is God breathed (Holy Spirit) proceeding from Father and Son as One, given to us in scripture that we may believe and have life.

It is interesting to note that the Exodus came before Mount Sinai, what I mean to say is that God first delivered His people from Egypt and then gave them the Law at Mount Sinai. It was not the other way around. As a preacher I know once said, it took God one day to get His people out of Egypt but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of His people. We see from all of this that though a believer is saved by grace and not His own merit, lawlessness cannot be a part of his life. He is always subject to the Moral Law of God, where He puts God first and his neighbor at par with himself.

1Thes 2
13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

You see the reason, we can do the stuff that is pleasing to God, is ONLY because of the life given to us in Christ i.e. His Holy Spirit. Had we not received Christ, we would not know or have the slightest inclination to please Him. So the word of God in the scripture, is the life given to us in Christ, which His Spirit i.e. God; who is at work, in us who believe. Thus even after we have been sanctified, the only statement we shall render to God is the one in Luke 17:10.

Luke 17
10 “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.'”

Such is Sovereign grace, that he who receives it humbled not exalted in himself, for the very meaning of grace is unmerited favor i.e. when one receives (especially concerning Salvation) what he does not deserve. I need to emphasize here that sanctification is not our work but the work of God in us, it is hence seen from the parable of the master who calls people to work in the vineyard that he who is called to work even at the very last moment, receives full wages i.e. even the person who is on his death bed and repents unto Christ, he too receives the full measure of Salvation; for just as Salvation is of the Lord (Lam 3:26), Sanctification too is by Him (Lev 20:8) and so He does with what is His own as He pleases… Sovereign Grace!

Mat 20
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?’16 So the last shall be first, and the first last.”

Christ and the Law

It is considered by many Christians today that believing in Jesus Christ means that you are free from the Law. People like to quote Romans 6:14 and John 1:17 to show that the Law does not apply to believing Christians. They say Christian life is a standard higher than the Law. Well, it must be understood that there are two aspects of the Law i.e. the physical and the spiritual/moral. Now the Bible says that if one keeps the physical aspect and yet transgresses the spiritual aspect of the Law, he still transgresses the Law but he who does not keep the physical aspect of the Law and yet maintains himself in the spiritual aspect of the Law, he keeps the Law.

Romans 2
25 For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
26 So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?
27 And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?
28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.
29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

The Law therefore seen is Spiritual (Romans 7:14) and all hangs on two commandments, it is to first love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and secondly to love your neighbor (even it is your enemy) as you love yourself (Luke 10:27). It must be understood that the law that came to a close in Romans 10:4 was the law, the physical aspect which people used to establish their own self righteousness. Gal 3:24 says that it is the Law that leads us to Christ because the Law makes people realize the dreadfulness of sin (Romans 7:7) and convicts them (James 2:9) that they may be brought to repentance… back to Christ. As His Church is the believing body that is susceptible to sin, the reason a Christian has been brought to the terms of facing his sin, is because the Law is written on his heart (Romans 2:15) and so he keeps the Law and is judged by the Law (Romans 2:12) but his faith in Christ has made the curse of the Law fall on Him who was the atonement sacrifice of all the sin of His people (Gal 3:10, 13).

There was a time I felt that the grace by which I was saved was grace that gave me freedom from the Law but I have now come to realize that that is certainly not the case. In fact it is by His moral Law (Romans 6:16-18) which has been imputed in me by His Spirit that I realize that the grace I have received is not one that gives me freedom to sin (Romans 6:15). The Law is perfect (Psalms 19:7), nothing which is perfect can get any better. If I am called to love my neighbor as I love myself, then I am automatically called to never covet, steal or murder against my neighbor. The way I had come to receive the grace of Christ, was a way that was lawless, a blasphemy against Christ Himself. This I have seen as my sin, for in loving Christ, I am called to obey His commandments.

John 15:10 (Jesus’ word)
10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

Now here is an interesting thought in John 15:10, as per reformed theological study Jesus Christ is referred to as the Second Adam. You see both Adam and Christ were subject to the commandments of God. Adam was created perfect (un-fallen) while Christ did not inherit original sin as He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin. Both Adam and Christ were representatives of a people, while Adam represented all mankind, Christ represented the Church. Both were subject to the Covenant of Life i.e. the Salvation of the people they represented that depended on their works in obedience to God. It must be seen that this testing was only for a certain period of time; else the term ‘eternal life’ would not have existed. It was a famous theologian who said: In Christ, the sons of Adam boast of more blessing than their father lost. So if any racial distinctions are ever to be drawn, it is those who were represented by Christ who are superior and this is grace that he who is saved is saved by the merit of Christ and not himself. For by himself, his fallen nature is inherent from Adam.

The Bible does say that man is not justified by the Law and even where there is no Law, people perish (Romans 2:12). It is right that man is justified by faith in Christ but the grace that we receive in Christ extends to receiving the Holy Spirit, who fulfills in us the requirements of the Law (Romans 8:4). Though it says in 1Cor 15:56 that the power of sin is in the law it should never be considered that the Law is Sin (Romans 7:7) for a person comes to terms with the power of sin through the Law (Spiritual) besides 1John 3:4 refers to sin as lawlessness.

Matthew 5:18 (Jesus’ word)
18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Atonement was accomplished on the cross (John 19:30), while the Salvation of the Church is being accomplished in the furnace of trial and affliction, suffering for Christ sake (Phil 1:29) by believers all over the world (1Peter 5:9). On the other hand the sin playing out of a person’s lust accomplishes death (James 1:15) for the reprobate as it incurs the wrath of God (Jeremiah 30:23-24). So we see that His Law shall remain till His Salvation is accomplished for every elect and His wrath accomplished for every deemed reprobate.

There are many religions and cultures around the world who claims to adhere to strict regulations but when you step out into their streets and public places, their nature of rebellion against the spiritual Law of God sticks out like a sore thumb but these will surely receive His justice and even those whose acknowledgement of His Lordship is nothing more than lip service (Mat 15:8) and outward displays these will also be deemed under the same lawlessness.

Matthew 7
15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.
19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Love That Cast Out Fear

Whenever we are ignorant of what is good, we do things with a feeling that that was the best approach but looking at these so called practical approaches, one rarely observes the fallen nature of man as the reason for what teaches him what he learns. The thing is: the world is only soaking in the lies of its iniquity. This is seen so commonly in man who chooses the path of wickedness in even making a living because he has been made blind (Is 6:10) to the fact that God is a higher priority than himself.

There are essentially three things that drive man to learn, think and act the way he does. These three things (1John 2:16) are: Power, Pleasure and Pride; they may either work together or individually to make a man the way he turns out. These so called 3Ps are driven by one thing and that is ‘fear’ or you may call it ‘insecurity’. This ‘fear’ a man has should not be confused with ‘cowardice’ because cowardice does not directly stem from the lack of faith/trust. The reason man has this fear/insecurity is because he subconsciously knows that he incurs the wrath of God in his fallen state.

1John 2:16
16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

When things start going wrong in a person’s life, the person can either take the easy underhanded solution which is as broad as the road of damnation to tackle the situation or he can stick to what the Bible teaches, valuing God more than his life’s sustenance. It is fear that makes man take the faithless solution, a fear which he covers by doing things that feed his pride, give into his pleasure and craving for power.

This fear that I am referring to is not the same as the ‘fear of the Lord’, for the ‘fear of the Lord’ is good as it brings repentance that leads one to Salvation but the fear of fallen man is the sorrow of his rebellion, which he tries to cover up with the 3Ps as he is blind to repentance as the only way out.

2 Cor 7:10
10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

The Bible teaches that God is love (1John 4:8) and the Bible also teaches love cast out all fear. Consider this, a person can only be considered as truly resilient, if he does not crumble or turn corrupt in character when he is faced with a bitter situation. However if he can look into the face of his persecution with a joy that has no ulterior motives, then the only thing that drives this truly resilient person is love i.e. God. Such is taught only in the Bible: in turning the other cheek (Mat 5:39), in giving one’s cloak when his shirt is already taken (Luke 6:29), in praying for those who persecute you (Mat 5:44) etc.

1 John 4:18
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

In Luke 18:2-6, it was perfect love that made the widow patient, always trusting and always persevering against the unjust judge. You may have understood by now that the perfect love that is taught in the Bible is not the mushy love we see in the movies. This perfect love teaches us not to be self-seeking and with this I come back to my earlier statement, where a man going through his regeneration learns his priorities and puts God before himself.

Deut 8:3
3 He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you [a]understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.

Love is the key ingredient to true strength because it teaches you to overcome your biggest enemy i.e. you. If there was no such thing as love then how would we forgive? How could we ever be at peace with ourselves? How could we ever pray unto our Father: forgive us as we forgive those who sin against us (Luke 11:4)?

However a person will never understand ‘love’ until he comes to terms with the Person Jesus Christ. For as per the Biblical definition of love in 1Cor 13:4-7, the only way we can know that God loves man is when realization strikes us that it was LOVE that made the Father give unto a gruesome death/sacrifice His most precious Son (1John 4:9), that man may believe and be saved. In other words if you don’t know Christ’ sacrifice on the cross, you don’t know the love of God but if you know the love of God then you will also know His Salvation.

John 3:16
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It must be understood that perseverance comes more from love than from determination because love preservers selflessly while determination can also persevere for self gain. Love can take a hit, fall and get back up again because it has better priorities but determination though it may be hard, it is brittle like glass and when it is hit, its goal is hit and so it shatters easily but this is not the case with love.

Phil 2:12-13
12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

It is therefore seen concerning those who preserve for Christ, that they do so with fear and trembling; who are afflicted but never crushed, perplexed but never despairing in the working of their sanctification through the love God has given them in Christ (1John 4:19).

2Cor 4:7-12
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

To conclude, religion exuberates three characteristics as a mark of being genuine i.e. faith, hope and love. Faith without love profits one nothing for such has failed to imitate the Zenith i.e. Christ. Hope can never be considered apart from love because hope itself comes from God’s love given by grace (2Thes 2:16) and so we see the primary element in true religion is love which cast out all fear.

Depravity and Trial!

There are many Christians who feel that having great faith is to be supercharged and praise God, something like where they increase before God. However of whom the Bible speaks of great faith, such are rarely noticed by people like these.

Matthew 8
5 When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him,
6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.”
7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.
9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.

Matthew 15
21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon.
22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”
23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.”
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.”
26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

John 3
26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”
27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.
28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’
29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.
30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

You can see from the above, the more a person recognizes his total depravity, the more he realizes his Salvation coming from Christ. There are essentially three steps in a Christian’s life, the first is Atonement- which was worked out by Christ on the Cross over 2000 years ago, the second is Justification- which is the point when Christ begins to take root in a person’s heart and the third is Regeneration/Sanctification- where the Christian is continually transformed into Christ’ likeness through trial.

Take the instance of the Parable of the Wedding Feast in Mat 22:1-14, it is seen in verse 11 and that in whom the Spirit does not work the Regeneration (Phil 2:12-13), that person has not been chosen for eternal life in union with Christ.

Now think about this, trial by fire (1Pet 1:7)– if God were to truly reprove you unto repentance (Rev 3:19), how much scope would there be for you to go through that trial with your head held high in pride? If you are able to go through the reproach of God with your head held high (Psalms 50:16-17) then the question is: was His reproach not that of a Father unto a son (2Sam 7:14)? It is therefore seen for certain that Regeneration takes place through trial, for trials call for greater obedience, which one can only adhere to by the power of His Spirit (Psalms 94:12).

Psalms 94:12
12 Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law,

The thing is, in the life of a Christian, his trials will make him small and make his God big. Throughout his life, he will know of his depravity, which in actual is him prostrating truly before his Almighty, Everlasting and Sovereign God.

There are many teachers out there, who in claiming to teach from the Bible, teach a doctrine of material blessing in obedience to God. Such teachers are well described in Mat 23:24, who teach strict obedience to certain values but have themselves given way to disobedience in submitting to their flesh when justice, mercy and faithfulness is required of them.

Mat 23:24
24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

Such is the faith taught by teachers like these. However James 2 teaches that faith goes beyond lip service, which is a call that makes the believer feel the pinch of Regeneration, where he thinks nothing of himself in serving Christ through his brother (Mat 25:40).

James 2
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

There is a good book I recommend to you, called Stonewall Jackson’s Verse, which is a true story of an old Confederate Army General, whose life even during trial had Romans 8:28 as its center.

Romans 8
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

So to close this, all I would like to say is, if you feel small before God especially during your trial then consider that as a blessing of good faith (Job 5:17). For faith can be imputed only through repentance and all a person feels in repentance is small.

Predestination!

The topic of predestination is one, which is heatedly debated on, in Christian circles. Predestination holds to the belief that God “CHOSE” a people before the beginning of time whom He would save unto eternal life only through Christ (1Peter 1:2). The people who normally oppose such a view have this excuse as their reason, which is that if it is God who is choosing people unto Salvation then it is unfair to those whom he has not chosen to be saved. Such a view not only makes God seem accountable to man but is actually an excuse for man to glorify his own being through what he thinks is his ability in autonomous decision making. As John Calvin perfectly puts it, the people who oppose predestination are no more than mortal enemies of God’s praise. The funny thing is, under the pretext that God is fair to all, predestination is opposed but when these same people are asked if they themselves are due praise due to their autonomous decision to believe, they remain silent but they probably and secretly seek praise because for most of them their best witness for the Gospel is their own testimony of how they came to believe, which portrays them in the spotlight and God in the background.

The thing is if God wants to send people to hell, he will send them (Heb 4:3). He Himself is goodness; He is certainly not obligated to act within the boundary of what man defines as good. He is glorified equally in all his attributes, weather that be: wrath or mercy. It must be understood, He does not save people because of themselves (Eph 2:8-9) but He saves people for His own Namesake (Psalms 79:9). God humbles himself before no man, where Jesus is concerned stating that He humbled himself to the point of death that humility was unto His Father (Gal 1:4), which He did so in obedience (Php 2:8).

There is certainly no pride man can take in His Salvation, the Bible refers to the saved, not as vessels of worthiness/merit but as vessels of His mercy (Romans 9:23). As Christians we too could have been vessels of His wrath like the rest of the unbelieving but the statement of fact is that, it is not because of we who accepted His mercy but because it was He who Sovereignly chose to show us mercy (Rom 9:15). You must understand that when you stand before an executioner and he declares mercy upon you, in such a scenario no sane man even in the remotest reaches of his imagination will feel the need to render a statement of acknowledgment/acceptance for that mercy he has received, when he is standing there on the brink of eternal death (Isaiah 48:9). That man will only be eternally thankful and will praise Him because of whom He received that mercy (2John1:3).

When the Bible says that Salvation is free (Romans 5:14-19), it is not meaning to say: as in ‘free for all’ but meaning to say that the person who has received it has contributed nothing even towards his own salvation. Predestination seen from a Biblical view is not mere “eternal security”, rightly worded predestination is actually: the perseverance of the Saints (Php 2:12-13). The reason clarity needs to be brought into this is because, “eternal security” is pitched in such a way that anyone who claims to accept the Gospel is saved regardless of how he leads his life in the future. However when you refer to the perseverance of the Saints: it speaks of eternal security: yes but along with that also the trails which God will take you through struggling all the way (Heb 12:6), for which He shall impute in you the Spirit of Perseverance (Psalms 51:12).

To conclude: Predestination, seen in its right light, does not mean that he who believes in it is surely saved but that if one believes in Christ and strives to lead that blameless life (Eph 1:4) in which the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13) shall guide him in for His Namesake, God had that person’s Salvation in mind right before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4). The Bible states God foreknows the believing (Romans 8:29), where foreknows literally speaking is that God foreordained that person before all creation to become an object of His affection (1Co 8:3), which He would deliver because He does not destroy who He loves. And the only way a person may know he is loved by God is if that person loves Jesus Christ and strives to obey Him beyond all things (John 14:23).

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