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Friday, April 18, 2014

Dashing our thinking

Posted by Gary on February 19, 2010

Romans 9:19 “You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”

When approaching the Word of God we are all immediately challenged, our fallen nature leaves us determined to think what we want to think as opposed to letting God tell us what to think. Yes, me too.

Nowhere is this more the case than in the issue of predestination. While predestination is referenced either by word specifically or in concept throughout Scripture, the defining section of God’s Word on predestination is Romans 9.

I had my first real study exposure to Romans 9 while attending Circleville Bible College a staunchly Wesleyan/Arminian college. In my class on Romans I was taught the classic Arminian interpretation of the passage which boiled down is that God chooses us because He knows that we are going to choose Him. According to Arminianism, predestination is not God’s prerogative or initiating action but a response, a reaction to our action.

This thinking I am afraid is born of our thinking. To our fallen, finite minds it could never be fair that God would predestine some people to salvation while leaving others to perish. The great emphasis in Arminianism is human will, we choose and God responds to our choice.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

Preachers pay attention

Posted by Gary on July 14, 2009

My brother recently purchased me a copy of Charles Spurgeon’s “The Soul Winner” which is available online here. I’m just into it but already I see it is a gem and so helpful. Spurgeon below challenges us to preach the whole counsel of God to the unsaved. How right he is and apparently faced in his day the thinking that prevails in ours which is, hold back certain truths from the unconverted because hearing them will drive them away.

Listen to Spurgeon’s advice keeping in mind that God used him to reach untold thousands of souls for Christ. Are we wiser than God?

And, do not believe, dear friends, that when you go into revival meetings, or special evangelistic services, you are to leave out the doctrines of the gospel; for you ought then to proclaim the doctrines of grace rather more than less. Teach gospel doctrines clearly, affectionately, simply, and plainly, and especially those truths which have a present and practical bearing upon man’s condition and God’s grace. Some enthusiasts would seem to have imbibed the notion that, as soon as a minister addresses the unconverted, he should deliberately contradict his usual doctrinal discourses, because it is supposed that there will be no conversions if he preaches the whole counsel of God.

It just comes to this, brethren, it is supposed that we are to conceal truth, and utter a half-falsehood, in order to save souls. We are to speak the truth to God’s people because they will not hear anything else; but we are to wheedle sinners into faith by exaggerating one part of truth, and hiding the rest until a more convenient season. This is a strange theory, and yet many endorse it. According to them, we may preach the redemption of a chosen number to God’s people, but universal redemption must be our doctrine when we speak with the outside world; we are to tell believers that salvation is all of grace, but sinners are to be spoken with as if they were to save themselves; we are to inform Christians that God the Holy Spirit alone can convert, but when we talk with the unsaved, the Holy Spirit is scarcely to be named. We have not so learned Christ. Thus others have done; let them be our beacons, and not our examples. He who sent us to win souls neither permits us to invent false-hoods, nor to suppress truth. His work can be done without such suspicious methods.

Perhaps some of you will reply, "But, still, God has blessed half-statements and wild assertions." Be not quite so sure. I venture to assert that God does not bless falsehood; He may bless the truth which is mixed up with error; but much more of blessing would have come if the preaching had been more in accordance with His own Word. I cannot admit that the Lord blesses evangelistic Jesuitism, and the suppression of truth is not too harshly named when I so describe it.

The withholding of the doctrine of the total depravity of man has wrought serious mischief to many who have listened to a certain kind of preaching. These people do not get a true healing because they do not know the disease under which they are suffering; they are never truly clothed because nothing is done towards stripping them. In many ministries, there is not enough of probing the heart and arousing the conscience by the revelation of man’s alienation from God, and by the declaration of the selfishness and the wickedness of such a state.

Men need to be told that, except divine grace shall bring them out of their enmity to God, they must eternally perish; and they must be reminded of the sovereignty of God, that He is not obliged to bring them out of this state, that He would be right and just if He left them in such a condition, that they have no merit to plead before Him, and no claims upon Him, but that if they are to be saved, it must be by grace, and by grace alone.

The preacher’s work is to throw sinners down in utter helplessness, that they may be compelled to look up to Him who alone can help them.

Irresistible Grace-God’s ability to bring us to Himself

Posted by Gary on April 27, 2009

Matthew 9:9  “As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him.”

Sometimes things are best taught by pointing to them as they are happening. Those of us who believe in the Doctrines of Grace hold in counter-distinction to Arminianism that God’s saving grace cannot be rejected by those God has chosen.

Case in point, Matthew (Levi). Let’s consider him for a moment. He has a very lucrative (granted, despised) career, he is a tax collector for the Roman empire. This job brings with it two very attractive benefits. First, authority, Matthew is a man that other men must submit to. We can rightly assume that Matthew had Roman military strength at his beckon call if someone refused to pay the taxes he commanded. We haven’t talked about money yet but don’t underestimate the value a man puts on holding a position that allows him to tell other men what to do and to have force at his disposal. To most men this is second only to a large pay-check.

Second, Matthew makes a lot of money. From what we know of his position Matthew was required to raise a certain amount of revenue for the Roman empire but was free to attach whatever amount he chose to the required amount, the additional being his to keep. This is one of the reasons tax collectors were so hated.

So, we have a man who makes big bucks and has a position of authority and a stranger walks up to him and speaks two words to him, “Follow Me” and Matthew leaves it all. Does this make sense? Does it seem likely? When you factor in that Jesus is a stranger this is all the more amazing. A stranger walks up and tells you to follow him, are you going to?

There is only one explanation for Matthew’s response, irresistible grace. Irresistible grace is the grace that God sends forth to those He has chosen, this grace accomplishes its mission, it results in the person coming to God. What is the success rate of this grace? Well “irresistible” ought to tell us something, this saving grace succeeds every time without fail. Scriptural proof?

John 6:37  “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”

Who are the “all”? The elect. How many of them will come to Jesus? All of them.

There is what is called “common grace” that is God’s kindness to all His creatures (life, food to eat, rain from heaven, love of family). There is also a “general call” to trust Christ that goes out to all mankind. You ask if it can be resisted? Yes, as a matter because of our depravity it is always rejected unless God imparts this irresistible grace which enables a person to respond by faith. Scriptural proof?

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.”

John 6:65  “And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

Now here is the beauty of this irresistible grace, it is irresistible not just in the sense of power and force but also, desire. Some things cannot be resisted because they are too strong other things cannot be resisted because they are so desirable and wonderful.

This is how it is with God’s work in salvation, God makes Himself known to someone and when He is seen for who and what He is, that person does not want to resist. The person who has come to Christ can speak of having something wonderful done to their hearts in which they sense new life, they want to hear Christ’s words, they wonder at His power, they cannot resist Him though they may have been resisting previously. We are told of this wonderful work done to the heart in the account of the two disciples Jesus appeared to on the road to Emmaus shortly after the resurrection:

Luke 24:30-32  “When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight.  They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”

God does not bring men to heaven kicking and screaming in opposition, He causes us to desire Him, He causes our hearts to burn within us, He makes us willing to come to Him. You may know the hymn, “Who Is On the Lord’s Side?” and it’s statement, “Thou hast made us willing, though hast made us free.” God’s grace results in a person desiring Him so strongly that He cannot be resisted. Thank God that He has and is willing to impart “Irresistible Grace” you and I could not be saved without it.