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Loved by God…

…a sanctified sinnerJuly 17 2018

In my recent on-line studies with Ligonier Ministries I have been learning more on God’s attribute of love.  The most recent session of the course entitled, “Loved by God,” has visited the spectacular grace revealed in the Scriptures on the subject of “God’s Electing Love.” 

Discussion questions always accompany the study sessions, and I typically dig deep into them. The online study participants are always encouraged to share their answers on the Ligonier Connect community portal where other fellow participants can comment and interact with us.

Each session has a theme verse for the topic. The topical verse for the session entitled, “God’s Electing Love” follows:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

—Ephesians 1:3–6

The particular discussion question which provoked my little grey cells to address dealt with the relationship between being a sinner chosen by God’s grace to be set apart for holiness and that of actually living as one sanctified by God’s grace while yet a sinner:

In what ways can sinners be holy as He is holy? Do you ever struggle with your own sanctification? In what ways have you progressed in this area of personal holiness?”

Before I could even form a thought on this question, I was driven back to the Scriptures to meditate again on the truths which my little grey cells tend to blur in the daily dust kicked up in the “helter-skelter” of the “ME” kind of life this side of Heaven. Laying hold of the Scriptures and feeding richly on the spectacular grace of the God who is the Ever living King of the cosmos cut through the accumulated “cataracts” on the eyes of this  mind He gave me and exposed the reality of being set apart by His own grace.  In realizing again that I am loved by God through His own electing grace, He “killed me softly” with His Word. What follows are the reflections on the subject of “God’s Electing Love” and the treasures which I found in His Word, both new and old…

There are two ongoing struggles in my life in this dusty existence, while yet being called out in the dust to live as one who knows the redemption from it by God’s grace. The first struggle is to remember that I am LOVED BY GOD and all that is wrapped up in that spectacular love package. The verses I have explored in this exercise are a few which ignite the fire of reality in my little grey cells and my bones and a longing to love God back. These are a few of the passages from the Word of God for my mind’s struggle to REMEMBER in this world of deceptions:

“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today.” Deuteronomy 15.15

“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine’.” Isaiah 43.1

“The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you’.” Jeremiah 31.3

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” John 10.27-29

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” John 15.16

“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14.25-27

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2.9-10

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1.2-4

“…as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1.14-16

  • Created in His image and likeness to belong to Him;
  • redeemed from my corruption and the corruption of this world to know Him and to LIVE as one alive and not perishing.
  • To know His Kingdom and to declare it—to LIVE as one who belongs to His Courts, His Service, His Royal children, lieges and loved ones.

Because I am loved by God, these are the things that the Holy Spirit reminds me about this spectacular sanctification of which I am privileged to live in Christ Jesus; and it is for Him and for His glory that I live and enjoy this calling.

The second struggle is a “good fight” (1 Timothy 6.11-13) as a sinner sanctified by the holiness of God and by His love. That “good fight” is YIELDING to the counsel, conviction, and correction of the Holy Spirit, and it is truly spiritual aerobics and a full and ongoing “cardio” workout.  Because I am loved by God, feeding on the Word of God and prayer without ceasing stays my mind on what is really real and true in a world of deceptions bombarding from every side. Because I am loved by God, by His grace, I am learning increasing tenderness to the conviction of sin and an increasing hatred for any “darling” sins which I admit to resisting and hesitating to surrender to Christ’s authority to cleanse; and I am learning the terrible effects of quenching the Spirit of God’s convicting work (1 Thessalonians 5.19) and the  grief such obstinacy brings to the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4.30). I am learning an ever increasing desire for the transforming and renewing of my mind that I would not “let sin reign in my mortal body,” and that I would “not present my members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin,” but present myself “to God as being alive from the dead,” and my “members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Romans 6.12-13) Because I am loved by God, there is that longing to more glorify God by living a “Romans 12” and a “Micah 6.8” and a “1 Thessalonians 5.16-18”  life as Christ who lives in me—the “good fight”Soli Deo Gloria!

When I am Weak…

spiritual battleI have not blogged for many weeks not because I have been particularly busy. I have not been traveling to far away places and enjoying limitless social gatherings with relatives and friends. Although I have not been busy in the culture’s understanding of what “busy” is nowadays, I have been occupied with living one day at a time–prayerfully, joyfully and thankfully. Truthfully, it has been a fight–a good fight–but nevertheless, a fight to do so. I have not been able to engage in the battle without the mercy of some medication, because the “good fight” I face every night and every day is anxiety disorder. The “good fight” broke out over 15 years ago, and God has mercifully granted me the blessings of an isolated few who have accepted me and prayed for me. He has also provided the blessing of therapists who not only respect but also identify with my Christian Biblical orientation for living in Christ with this kind of infirmity. But I am, after many years in one church, in a new church with new challenges to “connect” and with innumerable “opportunities” to exercise my gifting to serve–and most of all the greatest challenge to finding a sister or brother in Christ who is a local praying friend, unashamed to be my friend, understanding when I cannot join the throng of retreats, church socials, and ministry commitments, and willing to take time to pay a personal visit to our home.

I have not found very much in Christian literature or church counseling publications on the truth of what the weakness of anxiety disorder does to a person who loves Christ and longs to serve Him in the Body of Christ in response to that zeal, consuming fire and love. Today, in my quietness, I came upon this article published by another Christian, one whom I greatly respect, whose articles and teaching I have found at other times and on other topics come from the heart of the Word of God. He is also one whom I did not suspect as being a victim of the “pox” of anxiety. His name is Tim Challies. Some of you may know of him.

After another one of the series of nights struggling to rest without resorting to medication, I yielded to God’s merciful provision and was rewarded with sleep I have not experienced in a long time. Today, I found Rev. Challies’ article entitled “Some Things You Should Know about Christians Who Struggle with Anxiety.” He posted it on his blog site in August 2016. I believe today was my day to be encouraged and exhorted in a way no other fellow Christian has had the courage to talk to me. So I am sharing the link with you. Some of you know and experience this “good fight” firsthand;  others of you do not struggle with this weakness, but you have dear ones about whose inexplicable periods of uncharacteristic introversion or perpetual tiredness you are always finding a puzzlement and frustration. Rev. Challies explains it courageously and graciously.  I could not have said it better, but I am encouraged by this offering of his to be forthcoming with others in my family in Christ when I need to decline the many good “opportunities” for the sake of the best which equips me to fight the “good fight.” Here is the link to the article:

Some Things You Should Know about Christians Who Struggle with Anxiety – by Tim Challies

I close with a verse from Isaiah 30.15 which has become a living verse, a capable weapon in my “good fight,” and a continual blessed comfort in a culture which is opposed to any such exhortation:

In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

Made in the Image of God…

photo of man carrying baby

Photo by Alex Smith on Pexels.com

…but not children of God by natural birth.

In my recent on-line studies with Ligonier Ministries I have been learning more on God’s attribute of love.  One of the requirements of the course entitled, “Loved by God,” is to dig deeply into what the Scriptures actually say about the eternal love of God.  One overlooked truth about God’s eternal love is that God’s love did not begin at creation. Just as God is eternal, so are all His other attributes–eternal…including that of His love.

Most people might have some difficulty understanding how our status as image-bearers of God by His creation of us has anything to do with His eternal love or the reason why we cannot claim we are children of God by natural birth. I confess that before I studied the second session in the series, my little grey cells had not digested the clear facts leading to a rational dialog on the subject.  Realizing this truth and the impact it bears on the entire plan of redemption has made me love God more for the magnitude of who He is, the immensity of His eternal love, and helped me to help others think about why there is now a difference between being an image-bearer of God and being a child of God.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

QUESTION #1:

In what ways do many contemporary churches today misrepresent God’s eternal love? What sorts of teaching/preaching have you heard that endorses a universal love of God for His creation without distinction?”

My Answer: Many preachers in churches today have lapsed into a Unitarian view of God’s eternal love; and so they tell their audiences that God loves everybody the same way, unconditionally, just as they are—“warts and all.” They go on to exercise their misrepresentation by advancing their propositions that because God created us in His own image and likeness, they say that we are all children of God; ergo, God loves us all without distinction…This grave error in preaching has profound implications for the Biblical facts of God’s plan of redemption and the work of Christ in His atoning death…

         I have to say that I have never heard a preacher delve into the eternality of God’s love as Dr. Sproul has emphasized in this lecture: a vital point underscoring the eternal attribute of love which has always existed in Him who is self-existing—eternally. If anyone would have pressed me on this issue, of course I would have stated confidently that God’s love is a pure and holy attribute of His as eternal because He is eternal; but I am grateful for Dr. Sproul’s clearly spoken emphasis of this truth.

QUESTION #2:

How would you describe the object of God’s love before He made His people? Why is the work of redemption considered a Trinitarian work? Why would it be a mistake to think that the exclusive object of the love of God is the world or people?”

My Answer: God’s love is Trinitarian and covenantal; i.e., the covenant love in the plan of redemption, established between the persons of the Godhead from eternity past—in the complete foreknowledge that the fall of man was going to occur.

In Dr. Sproul’s words:It would be a mistake to think that the exclusive object of the love of God is the world or the people whom He is pleased to redeem. The primary object of the Father’s affection is the Son, and that is something that is often overlooked in the study of the Scriptures. It is absolutely true that God loves us, but we need to remember that He loves us (the redeemed) in the Son, and it is because of His great love for His Son that we are included in redemption.”

          And when I meditate on this truth, I see encounters with Christ in clear perspective in the Scriptures on the Trinitarian work of redemption declared from His own lips: “All that the Father gives Me will come to me” (John 6.37); “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6.44); “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15.26); “I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3.3, 5); “…make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28.19).

          The plan of redemption in this covenant love is for the glory of the beloved Son of God, Christ Jesus (Mark 9.7; 12.6; 2 Peter 1.16-18)—by whom and for whom all that was created is created (John 1.1-3; Revelation 4.11), and for whose glory the redeemed are bought for His possession (1 Corinthians 3.23; 7.22-23), and that in all things He might have the preeminence (Colossians 1.17-19). Glory be to God!

QUESTION #3:

Do you find it offensive or unfair that we are biologically born into this world void of the Spirit of God as children of wrath? How would you respond to someone who says that we are all children of God through creation simply because we are made in His image?”

My Answer: Saying that we are made in the image of God is only saying that we bear His image. In the material world, whose image an object bears is the one to whom that object belongs and is under sovereign subjection—even if that object denies it, it cannot be annulled. Saying that we are children of God is, in reality, claiming that God is our Father. The implications of such a claim mean that anyone who claims it acknowledges the sovereign authority of God as Supreme Patriarch over his life and conduct, and gives himself in loyalty, love and obedience to such a Father and Patriarch… 

          It might be offensive to our feelings, it might be painful to accept, but in fact we must face the real genetic implications of being in Adam and subject to the degenerative and lethal effects of his corruption upon the seed inside his loins. The effect of his rebellion—the denial of God’s sovereignty and the darkening of his understanding of the truth in his mind are real effects of his corruption which spread to every cell of his body—every seed in his loins. While his corruption did not nullify the fact of his being an image-bearer of God, he became a fallen image-bearer, corrupted and adversarial to the very God who created Him to be in His own image and likeness—and in his now-corrupted, natural, humanist state he and all his biological issue are worthy of God’s wrath. As a fallen image-bearer, Adam refused to acknowledge that he belongs to God and is subject to His sovereignty over his life—both the temporal and the eternal.  In his rebellion against God, he exalted his own humanist spirit above the Holy Spirit, and became an instrument in the hands of the Evil One. In his rebellion against God, Adam literally became the father of the children of wrath… “This Is Us,” in our natural, biological state. Adam changed his posture toward God, but God did not change His posture toward Adam and the progeny housed within his loins—as fallen image bearers, in our perverted condition, we still belong to God and are subject to His sovereignty over our lives—both the temporal and the eternal…

           If we are talking about what is “fair” or “unfair” on this subject, we must consider that if a holy God did what is “fair” toward us He would have annihilated Adam and Eve on the spot or pronounced an eternal and irrevocable curse upon them without possibility of remedy even by God Himself. But God is fair first to Himself—to His Trinitarian being—the Father cannot deny His Beloved Son His rightful inheritance from the creation. The Holy Spirit’s life giving breath cannot be quenched. It’s what the Godhead does. Therefore, if we examine the “fair” thing to do in the Father’s love for the Son, and the work of life through the Holy Spirit, it was to provide a way for some of Adam’s corrupted progeny to be made clean, reborn, regenerate. This could only be accomplished supernaturally by the regenerating work of God Himself in the lives of the Adamic seed born congenitally unregenerate—children of the corrupted Adam, no longer children of God. What is “unfair” to our constipated minds is the way this mechanism of regeneration would be accomplished—through the sacrificial death of The Father’s Beloved Son for the children of wrath—the Incorruptible for the corrupt—and the work of faith supernaturally given as a gift by the Holy Spirit to awaken the darkened minds of Adam’s children of wrath to life in God’s Beloved Son.

          All humans have been created in the image and likeness of God, and, as such, belong to God who is sovereign over their lives both temporal and eternal, to ordain what He chooses; but because of Adam’s rebellion against God, being an image-bearer of God in itself no longer qualifies all as children of God. All humans are born as fallen, rebellious image-bearers; no humans are born embracing the sovereignty and ownership of a holy God over their lives. We are not born children of God; we are born children of wrath. Until the regenerating breath of the Holy Spirit works in the heart of a fallen image-bearer of God—by grace through faith in The Father’s Beloved Son—he remains a child of wrath. Only those who believe in Christ Jesus are born anew, supernaturally, children of God…

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

–John 1.12-13

Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear; and may God the Father whose love for His Beloved Son is eternal be glorified by another fallen image-bearer being born “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” by His grace in the work of His Holy Spirit.

Why Atheism is a False God…

person sky silhouette night

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…and existence requires the self-existing God.

Here is a link to a message by Dr. Ravi Zacharias. In this careful and sensitive examination of the sincere arguments denying the existence of the God of the Bible, Dr. Zacharias explains the logical consequences of the rejection of the self-existing God.

The Existence of God

If you know dear ones who are still struggling with the futile musings of this world about their existence, perhaps you will find some light here to offer to them in their darkness. May the Spirit of the Ever-living God use the beauty of true wisdom to draw them to know who He is…

Your comments are welcome.

Why Words are Important…

crowd of people inside white building

Photo by Luis Dalvan on Pexels.com

…and a healthy society depends upon the truth.

Here is a link to a message given by Dr. Albert Mohler examining the trend in our 21st Century culture’s individualistic posture toward words and truth. It has sobering implications for all our relationships and for the entire scope of society…

If you do not know what “postmodernism” is, Dr. Mohler will make this cultural development in our times abundantly clear. Consider the consequences of postmodernism in the doctor’s office, or under the surgeon’s knife, or living/working in a structure engineered by a postmodernistic engineer…

Postmodernism and Society

Star Trek fans may recall the Ferengi “civilization” characterized by their treaties with other races in space. The principle upon which they base their treaties and covenants is this: “Our word is our bond, until we change our minds.”

Your comments are welcome.

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