Reflections on the Transforming Power of God Booklet Five
About the Book
The purpose of this work “Reflections on the Transforming Power of God” is to glorify God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, to encourage believers in their walk and interest others to pursue Him. If you are encouraged by what you read herein or become interested in a deeper understanding of God, please contact us at:
Transforming power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man
In today’s world, the God of the Bible, if believed in at all, has been relegated to being not relevant in the affairs of mankind. John the Revelator wrote that in the last days Jesus, God the Son, will be expelled from the church He created and will seek to have fellowship with anyone who would ask Him to come back. (Revelation 3:20).
The author of this little booklet has written a book entitled “One Christian’s Perspective of Man’s Dilemma God’s Solution.” The eleven chapters that are in it present a God who is sovereign over all of creation and is bringing this present dispensation to a close. This booklet is the fifth in a series of booklets that continues with that perspective. It is intended to promote God to those who may be seeking Him, and it is intended to encourage Christians who may be disheartened.
It is the author’s prayer that all who read this work will be greatly blessed. Beyond this, the author prays that God is honored.
Our Beliefs 3-9
God’s Purpose in Creating 10-13
The Greatest Delusion 14-20
Spiritual Unfaithfulness and 21-24
Why Did God Reject Adam and 25-29
Eve’s Attempt and Cain’s Offering
We Haven’t Been Left Alone 30-32
Fighting Against a Seared 37-40
A Good Conscience Doesn’t 41-44
Saved by Grace Through Faith 45-46
What Does it Mean That Jesus was 47-50
God’s Only Begotten Son and the
Importance of that Uniqueness
Has God Changed His Message 51-54
Has god Changed His Message 55-56
Do we Have Nimrod’s Among Us? 57-60
Believing in Jesus 61-64
God’s Passionate Love for Man 65-67
Save by Grace Through Faith 68-69
Heaven by Election or Choice 70-74
Heaven by Election or Grace 75-76
About the Author 77-78
One True God
We believe that there is only one living and true God, infinite in every excellence, that in the unity of the Godhead there are three personal distinctions, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one and equal in every divine perfection. (Exodus 20:2-32; 1st Corinthians 8:6).
We believe in the absolute Deity of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ; that He was divine as no other man can be, being God Himself, existing from all eternity co-equal with the Father and the Spirit; that He never ceased to be God for one instance and that His humiliation did not consist in laying aside His Deity; that as a man He was miraculously begotten of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. (1st John 5:20; John 1:1-2; Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:26-38).
We believe that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, equal with the Father and Son and of the same substance and nature; that He convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment, bears witness to the truth, is the agent of the New Birth and that He seals, endues, guides, teaches, witnesses to, sanctifies, and helps the believer, indwelling every true child of God. (2nd Corinthians 13:14; John 14:16-17; Romans 8:14-27; John 16:7-15).
We believe that the Holy Bible as originally written was verbally inspired and the product of Holy Spirit inspired men, and therefore without admixture of error for its matter. We believe that it is the true center of Christian union and the only infallible rule for all human conduct, creeds and opinions. (2nd Timothy 3:16-17; 2nd peter 1:19-21).
We believe that God created the heavens and the earth in six literal days, including all life, “each after its own kind,” by direct act and not by the process of evolution. (Genesis 1 and 2; Colossians 1:1617; John 1:3).
We believe that Satan is a distinct created being. That he became other than what he was created when iniquity was found in him, that he is the God of this age, leader of all the powers of darkness and sin, and is destined to the judgment of an eternal justice in the lake of fire. (Ezekiel 28:14-15; Matthew 4:1-3; 2nd Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 20:10).
The Fall of Man
We believe that man was created, in innocence and true holiness, under the law of his maker and in the image of God, but by voluntary transgression fell from his created state and became sinful. In his fall he became totally depraved and wholly disposed toward evil, possessing neither the ability nor the inclination to seek God apart from the regeneration grace of the Holy Spirit; that all are sinners by nature and by conduct, and therefore are under just condemnation without defense or excuse. (Genesis 3:1-6; Ephesians 4:23; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Genesis 1:26; Romans 5:12; Romans 3:10-19; Genesis 6:5; Ephesians 2:1; Romans 1:8; Ezekiel 18:19-20; Romans 1:32; Romans 1:20; Galatians 3:22).
The Only Atonement for Sin
We believe that the only escape from the condemnation of sin is through redemption wrought by Jesus Christ when He voluntarily took upon Himself a human body and nature, yet did not sin and by His vicarious suffering, death and resurrection made full satisfaction to the justice of God, and that “in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins;” that the blessings of salvation are given on the grounds of grace to all who believe and confess that Jesus is Savior and Lord; and that it is the immediate duty of all to accept these offers of mercy. (John 1:1-3; John 1:14; John 3:16-17; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 1:7).
Grace and The New Birth
We believe that in order to be saved, sinners must be born again; that the new birth is a new creation in Christ Jesus; that it is instantaneous and not a process; that in the new birth the one dead in trespasses and sins is made a partaker of the divine nature and receives eternal life, the free gift of God; that the new creation is brought about in a manner above our comprehension by our sovereign God, not by culture or the will of man, but solely by the power of the Holy Spirit in connection with the Word of God, so as to irresistibly draw men to Himself and secure their voluntary obedience to the gospel; that the proper evidence of the new birth appears in the holy fruits wrought by it; repentance, saving faith, and newness of life. (John 3:3; 2nd Corinthians 5:17; 1st John 5:1; John 3:6-7; Acts 16:20-33; 2nd Peter 1:4; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1; Galatians 5:22; 2nd Corinthians 5:19; Colossians 2:13; John 3:8; John 1:12-13; Ephesians 5:9).
We believe in God’s sovereign election whereby in eternity past He chose some to be recipients of His grace in Christ. We believe that true believers in Christ are distinguished from mere professors by their persevering attachment to the Savior made evident as the Holy Spirit unfailingly brings to completion His work within them; that, moreover, the saints are eternally secure, kept by the power of God through faith unto ultimate redemption. (John 8:31; Psalms 37:24; Psalms 37:28; 1st John 3:9; 1st John 2:27; 1st John 5:18; Hebrews 3:14; 1st John 2:19; John 17:12; Romans 8:28-39; Luke 10:42; Luke 22:31-32; John 6:37-40; John 10:28-30; Romans 11:29; 1st Corinthians 1:8-9; 2nd Corinthians 1:21-22; Philippians 1:6; Philippians 2:12-13; Jude 1:24-25; 1st John 4:4; 2nd Timothy 1:12; 2nd Timothy 4:18; 1st Peter 1:4-5; John 4:14; John 5:24).
We believe that God has elected those whom become saved, but He does not prevent others from believing and coming to Him for salvation, if they would. But the truth is, left to himself, man has no desire to search Him out. (John 3:19-20; John 5:39-40).
The Return of Christ
We believe in the bodily, personal, pre-millennial, return of Jesus Christ; that He will come before the seven years tribulation period to catch away His church, coming only in the air, and that He will come with His Church at the close of the tribulation judge the living nations and to set up His kingdom. (1st Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 24:31-46; Revelation 19:11-21).
We believe in the resurrection of the bodies of the dead; that believers who sleep in Jesus will be resurrected at the coming of Christ for His church and caught up with the translated living saints to meet the Lord in the air, and that those of the tribulation who die will be resurrected at the end of the tribulation, and the unbelieving dead of all ages will be resurrected at the close of the Millennial kingdom and stand in their bodies at the Great White Throne judgment to receive their final doom. (John 5:21-30; 1st Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 7:9-17; Revelation 20:11-15).
Priesthood of all Believers
We believe in the New Testament order that every born-again Christian is a priest of God. This position of being a believer-priest under our great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, puts every Christian on the same level of priesthood. The believer-priest in the pew has just as ready access into the presence of God the Father and to the truth of God as does the believer-priest in the pulpit. (1st Peter 2:5-9; Revelation 1:5-6).
The world is falling apart around us (humanly speaking) and we present the above so that you, the readers of our weekly devotionals may know that we believe the only hope for the world is in God Himself, and Him alone.
We have written a book that addresses many of these beliefs in greater detail and it may be obtained from the author firstname.lastname@example.org
God’s Purpose in Creating
Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Why? This question is answered for us in the New Testament books of Colossians, Revelation and from the Old Testament book of Psalms. From Colossians 1:15-16 we read, “15He (Jesus Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (NKJB). From Revelation 4:11 we read, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (KJB). From Psalms we read that David, Israel’s second king, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit in exaltation of God proclaimed, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psalm 19:1 KJB). From these passages we learn that all things were created for God’s glory and for His pleasure, and that the heavens themselves testify to His glory.
Now, some may ask how can God receive honor, glory and pleasure from what has and is happening on the earth? This reasoning looks back to the time when Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. Since that time there has been discord and strife throughout humanity. War and bloodshed are seemingly the order of the day. The questioner might be justified in their questionings and conclusions if there were not a resolution for the aforementioned calamities.
Remember that God created everything good. Discord, strife, war, bloodshed and death was not part of His creation. These things entered when Satan, the hater of God, enticed Adam and Eve to question God’s authority and to go against His only prohibition. They were not to take of the forbidden fruit. They were not to experiment with evil. God, however, knowing they would disobey, had set in motion before he created the world that which would bring resolution and restoration of creation to its original state. We read from Revelation 21:1-8, “1Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ 5Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’ 6And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death’” (NKJB).
From the creation it has always been God’s purpose to dwell within His creation and with humanity. He demonstrated this by choosing from among nations Israel to be a special people unto Himself (Genesis 12:1-2; Exodus 19:4-6; and Deuteronomy 7:8). He went to extreme measures to assure a continued relationship and presence with them. He gave them laws, ceremonies and a sacrificial system that provided them a righteous standing before Him. The sacrifices of the sacrificial systems pointed to His own sacrifice in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said, “16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17 NKJB). The writer of Hebrews ascribed these words to Him, “1For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. 5Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. 6In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.’ 7Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come– In the volume of the book it is written of Me– To do Your will, O God.’ 8Previously saying, ‘Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them’ (which are offered according to the law). 9then He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’ He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:1-10 NKJB).
God’s purpose for creation was to have objects toward whom He could demonstrate His person and glory. This is exemplified by His love, provision and justification. We who have been regenerated to spiritual life or born again, experience these things now, but will in a fuller way when we shed the restrictions of our physical bodies and become housed in glorified bodies living in His presence. What a blessing.
The Greatest Delusion
What is the Greatest Delusion that One Can Be Under?
The greatest delusion that one can have is to believe that they will someday be in the presence of God without having lived for Him during his lifetime.
Didn’t Jesus say, “If anyone desires to come after Me [follow Me], let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” Yes, He did.
What did Jesus mean by the declaration; “Take up your cross and follow me”?
In context, Jesus was admonishing Peter because he was not willing to believe that Jesus would soon go to Jerusalem and be killed. Considering the complete context, we read:
13When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”16Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the
living God.”17Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
20Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.21From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
22Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” 23But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
24Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. (Matthew 16:13-27 NKJV)
What was the essence of Jesus’ admonition?
Jesus told Peter, and indirectly us, that unless he committed himself and we commit ourselves to following Jesus, not just in word, but in full surrender he would not (and we would not) receive the reward of heaven, of eternal life. Being a Christian, a follower of Jesus, is much more than a verbal assent, but a commitment.
Jesus’ choice of words is interesting: He said, “Unless a man takes up his cross.”
Why would He use such terminology?
The cross was a method used in Rome for the execution of capital offenders of its laws. Many times a prisoner was taken to the location of the deed and was executed there. Some had to drag their cross through the streets of whatever locale to demonstrate their subservience to Rome’s authority. This would not have been done willfully, but Peter was to willfully surrender to Jesus’ authority and all things pertaining to the kingdom of heaven. We too, are willfully to surrender ourselves to His authority, and all things pertaining to His kingdom.
Consider what Paul was inspired to write to the Church at Ephesus, and then his letter to the Colossian Church.
To the church at Ephesus “17This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
What must be true of born-again persons, of a Christian? If there has been a change, there will be a change.
What is a Christian to do?
22that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
A Christian is to forsake his old nature, his old way of life and live according to his new nature imparted by the Holy Spirit.
How is this to manifest itself?
25Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26“Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27nor give place to the devil. 28Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
29Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, an evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.32And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:17-19….22-24….25-32 NKJV).
To the Colossian church; “1If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
What was the Christians of Colossi, and what are all Christians to do? They were and we are to set their minds on the kingdom of heaven, not the kingdom of this world.
Because of who we are, what are we to do?
5Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
How is this change show to itself in the Christian?
12Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:1-3….5-11….12-17 (NKJV).
Jesus and Paul both spoke of commitment, not halfhearted commitment, but full commitment, total surrender. Their offerings were not subjective or suggestive, but commands. Let us not be delusional thinking that we will enter the presence of the Lord without having made Him Lord of our lives.
Thank you, Lord for giving us your Spirit making our surrender and commitment possible.
Spiritual Unfaithfulness and it’s Consequence
“1The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. 2Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: ‘ I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me; 3The ox knows its owner And the donkey its master’s crib; But Israel does not know, My people do not consider.’ 4Alas, sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, They have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward. 5Why should you be stricken again? You will revolt more and more. The whole head is sick, And the whole heart faints. 6From the sole of the foot even to the head, There is no soundness in it, But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores; They have not been closed or bound up Or soothed with ointment. 7Your country is desolate, Your cities are burned with fire; Strangers devour your land in your presence; And it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. 8So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, As a hut in a garden of cucumbers, As a besieged city. 9Unless the Lord of hosts Had left to us a very small remnant, We would have become like Sodom, We would have been made like Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:1-9).
Israel had been chosen of God to be His witness to humanity, but because of their spiritual rebellion God raised up Isaiah and other prophets to alert them to His view of them and to warn of impending judgment. Israel was unfaithful to their calling and losing the blessing of God was overrun by Assyria and Babylon and was taken captive by these two nations. This did not need to happen. Had Israel remained faithful, they would have continued receiving God’s blessing and would have remained as His witness to the rest of mankind. Someday, at the end of this present dispensation, Israel will be restored and reemerge as the people through whom God will manifest His glory and benevolence but not before He has finished Israel’s transgression and made and end of their sin (See Daniel 9:24).
This is God’s view of Israel, but what about the Church of Jesus Christ? Does God view it differently than Israel? Has He not called us to the same holy standard? Yes, He has. He has called us as “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that we may proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light; we once were not a people, but we are now the people of God, we once had not obtained mercy, but we now have obtained mercy.” (See 1st Peter 2: 9-10). As Israel, we of the church are to be pure in thought and deed. We are to live according to His holy standards. To assure this possibility He has given His Spirit to indwell us. God Himself lives in each of us who have been granted new spirit life. It is possible for us to live holy lives. Not sinless lives, but godly lives (See 1st John 1:5-10). His Spirit has been given to alert us to sin, to create in us a desire to reject and confess it and to turn from it in repentance. When we listen to His Spirit and are obedient to His direction we are cleansed of sin’s stain and its grip on us. To be holy persons we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit. We are not to fight or resist His leading.
The apostle Paul, by inspiration of God, left us this path of being satisfying to the Holy Spirit. “17This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20But you have not so learned Christ, 21if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. 25Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another. 26‘Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27nor give place to the devil. 28Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:17-32).
In short, God has provided the Christian with what is needed for him or her to walk respectfully of a God pleasing life, but we must work at being Holy. We are to put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness and are to put off the old man with its corruption. We must not deceive ourselves into believing that we are pleasing to God yet live according to the dictates of our natures. As God removed Israel’s testimony, He reserves the right to remove the testimony of the church, our testimony. (See Revelation 2:1-7).
Thank you, Lord for making it possible for us to live lives that glorify your name. Help us, Lord to do our part.
Why Did God Reject Adam and Eve’s attempt, and Cain’s Offering?
Genesis chapter three. “1Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’’ 2And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ 4Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. 5For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ 6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. 8And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you? 10So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11And He (the Lord) said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’ 12Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’ 13And the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done? The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ 14 So the Lord God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. 15And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.’ 16To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.’ 17Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.’20And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. 22Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’– 23therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.”
Adam and Eve covered their nakedness with fig leaves, but God covered them with the skin of an animal. Why did God do this, was not the covering of fig leaves enough? Yes and No! Fig leaves were enough in covering their physical nakedness, but it was not enough in the covering of their sin. Upon sinning, they became different than when created. Before sinning, the Lord walked in fellowship with them (v.8), but because there can be no fellowship between holy God and righteousness man (See 2nd Corinthians 6:14-17), their sin had to be covered to reestablish that fellowship. However, even being covered by the skins of the slain animal would not in itself have been enough. It was what preceded that action, the slaying of the animal, the shedding of its blood. The writer of the Book of Hebrews, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, affirms this by writing, “without the shedding of blood there is no remission” (9:22b). The covering of the animal skin was made possible by Lord God sacrificing the animal. A sacrifice of the innocent for the forgiveness of the guilty. Long before He created the world, God had purposed that He, as the Son of God, would be sacrificed for man’s redemption (See Revelation 13:8; Colossians 1:20-22; Hebrews 10:1-14). The animal that was slain to obtain its skin for the covering of Adam and Eve’s sin was a foreshadowing of what God had purposed to do from the beginning of the world. This is why God rejected Cain’s offering and accepted Abel’s offering (Genesis 4:1-5). Cain rejected God’s atonement and offered that which was not acceptable. It was a willful rejection. Consider for instance Hebrews 11: 4, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” Abel was righteous because of his sacrifice. He saw himself as a guilty sinner in need of God’s provision. He understood what God had done on the behalf of his parents, that God had rejected their religion (attempted covering) and provided the only acceptable covering for sin, which is the shedding of the righteous substitute’s blood. Cain was unrighteous because of his rejection of this truth and offered an offering (a bloodless offering) that was not acceptable.
The apostle Paul understood this, and in his letter to the Romans wrote, “1Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. 5For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, ‘The man who does those things shall live by them.’ 6But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, ‘Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above) 7or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Many today religiously try to please God, but according to Scripture that is not possible. Man’s sin can only be forgiven by believing in and committing to God’s provision, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Doing this, a person becomes pleasing to God.
We Haven’t Been Left Alone
On the night that Jesus would be arrested, He gathered the twelve disciples to Him and assured them that even though He would be leaving them, He would not leave them alone. Turning to the Gospel of John we read, “16And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever–17the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:16-21).
Meeting with eleven of the disciples a few days later, He breathed into them His Spirit (John 20:22). His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, was imparted to them on that day and they were forever changed men. This impartation, however, was and is not to them alone. It is Jesus’ gift to all who by faith commit themselves to Him. Many times in the book of Acts we read of persons receiving the Holy Spirit. Some of them were singled out, and the record tells how they were also changed persons. These were such persons as the deacon Stephen (Chapter 7); the Ethiopian eunuch (Chapter 8); Saul of Tarsus (Chapter 9); Cornelius (Chapter 10); and the Philippian Jailor (Chapter 16). None of these were left alone. The Spirit of Jesus indwelt them, and they were spiritually changed persons. Each of these persons were never the same again. They received the comfort of the Holy Spirit. He brought illumination about Jesus to them that He is one with God. Because of this comfort and illumination they set the world around them spiritually on fire.
The wonderful thing about this is that the comfort of the Holy Spirit is given to each believer, not the comfort of the world, but God’s comfort. Consider the following excerpt of the inspired words of Paul as he, by letter, encouraged the Christians at Rome. “16The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23Not only that, but we also who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. 26Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:16-26).
The Church by this time had suffered much by the Roman government, and by the Jews. Paul sought to encourage these Christians by reminding them that they had the indwelling Holy Spirit and they had not been left alone. In another letter, his letter to the Galatians, Paul encouraged his readers by reminding them that the Holy Spirit produces in the committed Christian “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
Both letters, to the Romans and to the Galatians, were written thirty plus years after the Holy Spirit had been breathed into the apostles (John 20:22), and when He birthed the church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Jesus’ promise therefore transcends the apostles and His original followers and all who would come to believe in and commit themselves to Him. This includes you and me. We have not been left alone. Wonder of wonders!
What is the conscience? Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines the conscience as “the sense or consciousness of moral goodness or blameworthiness of one’s conduct, intensions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good.” Where does the conscience come from? Some may answer that it is inbred into us, that it comes from our father and mother. This answer has credibility. The conscience is seminally passed from father to son or daughter, but this still does not give the origin of conscience. Where then did it originate? Was it not endowed to man at his creation? The Bible declares that “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7 KJB). Certainly the breath of life was nitrogen and oxygen (air) which is the necessary compound to sustain life. But it was more than that. It was a spiritual impartation; man was endowed with a spirit. A spirit that gave man the ability to recognize, hear, and communicate with God, and the ability to receive instruction from Him. God also granted man a will by which he might obey or disobey God’s communication. In that granting God warned Adam (our federal head) that disobeying Him would bring a consequence of spiritual separation.
When in compliance with God’s communication, Adam sensed compatibility with God. However, when in disobedience, he immediately sensed a disconnect or a separation. It was Adam ‘s spirit that connected him with his Creator. This is true of all his offspring. When we obey God’s commands, we sense connection with Him. When we are walking in disobedience, we sense a disconnect with Him, a separation from Him. Is not then man’s spirit his conscience? Yes. Consider for instance what Paul wrote of those who knew about God but refused to be obedient to Him. “18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man–and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25who exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:18-32 NKJB). Verse 32 emphatically states that the spirit, the conscience of those to whom Paul wrote, were convicted of their wrongdoing, their sin. This was certainly true of those Jesus had in mind when in conversation with the Jewish Pharisee Nicodemus, He said, “19And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19-20 NKJB).
Man’s spirit, a.k.a. man’s conscience, was given so that man would have recognition of God, have communication with Him, and be responsible to Him. Man is without excuse. Each person is given a spirit, a conscience. There are no so-called atheists. Every person has the witness within themselves that God is, and each has a responsibility before Him.
Fighting Against a Seared Conscience
The apostle Paul writing to his young protégé Timothy, warned, “1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron”(1st Timothy 4:1-2). Paul wanted Timothy to be alert that in later times, some, having a seared conscience, would depart from the faith and would introduce things that would not be consistent with the teaching of the Lord and the apostles. This of course has been true throughout church history. There has always been those who have steeled themselves against the teaching of the Lord, the eleven men that accompanied Him throughout His approximate three-year earthly ministry, and Paul, who had been specifically called by Him. From the death of John, the last of the eleven to present, there has been those who have purposely distorted their message. Not mistaken persons, but persons who have purposely distorted God’s truth. They have allowed their consciences to be seared by self-desire or purpose.
Mis-understanding Scripture (God’s word) is certainly damaging but that can be overcome with study. Having seared conscience however is more damaging because that comes from a purposeful denial and rejection of known truth. Many such persons did not/do not have a true relationship with Jesus, they are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). Such persons, Paul writes are mouthpieces for evil spirits, they promulgate “things taught by demons”; they are hypocritical liars, they wear a mask of holiness but are full of falsehood; they are unscrupulous, because their consciences have been cauterized (seared), This helps explain how persons can stand in pulpits or lead bible studies knowingly saying things that aren’t true. They have been taken over by the powers of darkness. Perhaps none of the mentioned persons had a seared conscience when they began their ministries (such as a pastor, or an educator of whatever level) but entering into ministry without having been born-again opened/opens the door to Satanic influence.
But, what about the born-again person, he or she who has a true relationship with the Lord, shouldn’t we be on guard? Perhaps it would be good if have the attitude of the Psalmist, who said: “1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the Lord! 2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart! 3 They also do no iniquity; They walk in His ways. 4 You have commanded us To keep Your precepts diligently. 5 Oh, that my ways were directed To keep Your statutes! 6 Then I would not be ashamed, When I look into all Your commandments. 7 I will praise You with uprightness of heart, When I learn Your righteous judgments. 8 I will keep Your statutes; Oh, do not forsake me utterly! 9 How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. 10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! 11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You! 12 Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes! 13 With my lips I have declared All the judgments of Your mouth. 14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches. 15 I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. 16 I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. 17 Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word. 18 Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law” (Psalm 119:1-18).
Or perhaps it would be good to heed Paul’s warning: “10 my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Paul instructed the Ephesians to put on the whole armor of God and to be attentive to the physical and spiritual needs of all believers. In so doing there would be no room for a seared conscience. What was true of them is true of us.
A Good Conscience Doesn’t Just Happen
For the past few weeks, we have been considering man’s conscience and, in that consideration, we have found that man’s conscience is in essence his spirit. Man was created body, soul and spirit. We considered that a spirit was given to Adam at his creation, and that a spirit is part of every person’s makeup. The purpose of man’s spirit is to be aware of God, to be able to communicate with Him, and to have fellowship with Him. We considered that the tolerance of sin can, and does, sear one’s conscience, a.k.a. harden one’s heart toward God and His goodness. We considered that to avoid having a seared conscience one must fight against that searing. One cannot have a good conscience by not being consciously engaged against those things that would sear it. Not being actively engaged opens the door to the desires of our old fallen natures and the suggestions of Satan. (Even though we Christians have been given a new nature we still have our old nature). As we considered last week, we are to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18) that we might stand against Satan and the powers of darkness. Having put on this armor it becomes God’s battle on our behalf.
But, what about our battle against our old fallen natures? Yes, God is in the battle, but it requires our forceful stand against it, too. Earlier in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote that they were, and we are to “24put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. 25Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26″Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27nor give place to the devil. 28Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. 29Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:24-32).
Paul wrote that the Christian is not to grieve the Holy Spirit (vs. 30) by living like he did before being regenerated. They were and we are not to walk as the unsaved “18having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18). Grieving the Holy Spirit will certainly cause hardness of heart. Grieving the Holy Spirit will sear the believer’s conscience until we soon will be like those who are unredeemed.
We Christians can find the antidote to a seared conscience by adhering to Paul’s advice found in his letter to the Colossians. “1If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 5Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. 12Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:1-17).
If we Christians what to live with a pure undefiled conscience, we must set our minds on things above and purity will follow.
Saved by Grace Through Faith
As we consider our position in Jesus Christ (our relationship with Him) there is perhaps no better passage that we could turn to in affirmation of that position (that relationship) than Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In that letter Paul’s talks about himself and his fellows exaltation in the purpose of God (1:1-12) and adds that they, his readers, could and should join in that exaltation because they, like them, had believed in the finished work of Jesus, their salvation (1:13). Having declared this to his readers Paul went on and gave the reason of their exaltation (both his and theirs). Turning to Ephesians 2:1-10 we read;
“1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,
2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Oh’ how wonderful it must have been for them to understand that the reason of their salvation and their exaltation rested not in themselves but because of God Himself. Even when they were dead toward Him, walking in the lust of their flesh (their fallen natures) He regenerated them to newness of spiritual life. It was by His grace (His unmerited favor toward them) that they were saved. Verses 8-9 emphatically state “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.” By His grace, God forgave them of their sin and as His gift to them He gave them the ability to believe, to trust in Jesus.
The wonder of it all is this grace and the ability to believe is extended to us. Wow!
What does it mean that Jesus is God’s only begotten son and the importance of that uniqueness?
The phrase “only begotten Son” occurs in John 3:16, which reads in the King James Version as, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The phrase “only begotten” translates the Greek word “monogenes.” This word is variously translated into English as “only,” “one and only,” and “only begotten.” It’s this last phrase, “only begotten” used in the KJV, NASB and the NKJV, that causes problems. False teachers have latched onto this phrase to try and prove their false teaching that Jesus Christ isn’t God, i.e., that Jesus isn’t equal in essence to God as the Second Person of the Trinity. They see the word “begotten” and say that Jesus is a created being because only someone who had a beginning in time can be “begotten.” What this fails to note is that “begotten” is an English translation of a Greek word. As such, we must look at the original meaning of the Greek word, not transfer English meanings into the text.
“So what does monogenes mean? According to the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BAGD, 3rd Edition), monogenes has two primary definitions. The first definition is ‘pertaining to being the only one of its kind within a specific relationship.’ This is its meaning in Hebrews 11:17, when the writer refers to Isaac as Abraham’s “only begotten son” (KJV). Abraham had more than one son, but Isaac was the only son he had by Sarah who was the only son of the covenant. Therefore, it is the uniqueness of Isaac among the other sons that allows for the use of monogenes in that context. The second definition is ‘pertaining to being the only one of its kind or class, unique in kind.’ This is the meaning that is implied in John 3:16 (see also John 1:14, 18; 3:18; 1 John 4:9). John was primarily concerned with demonstrating that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:31). He uses monogenes to highlight Jesus as uniquely God’s Son—sharing the same divine nature as God—as opposed to believers who are God’s sons and daughters by adoption (Ephesians 1:5). Jesus is God’s ‘one and only’ Son.
The bottom line is that terms such as ‘Father’ and ‘Son,’ descriptive of God and Jesus, are human terms that help us understand the relationship between the different Persons of the Trinity. If you can understand the relationship between a human father and a human son, then you can understand, in part, the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity. The analogy breaks down if you try to take it too far and teach, as some pseudo-Christian cults (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses), that Jesus was literally ‘begotten’ as in ‘produced’ or ‘created’ by God the Father.
[The above is not an origination of ‘Transforming Power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man” but copied and reprinted by permission of “gotquestions.org”]
As we consider that Jesus was God’s only begotten son, we should consider His uniqueness. Jesus was God in the flesh (John 1:14). This could not be said of any other person. We read from Matthew 1:18, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” God the Son, the third person of the trinity, became the Son of God. Looking at the verse mentioned above we read, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” God the Son took upon Himself human flesh yet was not tainted by the nature of man. Taking on human flesh did not disavow His being God. As Spirit He had always been God, when taking upon human flesh He was God, and from His incarnation He has been and will always be God. This uniqueness was necessary because Adam having become a sinner passed his sinful nature to his offspring, male and female. No one descended from Adam can qualify as man’s redeemer. His acquired sinful nature has been seminally passed to every person, excluding none.
We read from Romans 5, “12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned– 13(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.15But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) 18Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. 20Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Jesus, the only begotten Son, defined by the meaning of the Greek Word “monogenes” could not be of the seed of Adam and be the sinless entity who could sacrifice Himself for man’s redemption. This would take the sacrifice of the only innocent, Jesus, God’s only begotten Son. What a wonder!
Has God Changed His Message
Is the Bible relevant today? Many say that it is not, at least in its entirety. They hold that the Bible, as completed 2,000 plus years ago, is not up to the times, that many things have changed since its completion, but are they correct? Has the God of the Bible changed? No, He has so testified. He said through His prophet Malachi “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6). Moreover, He affirms this in Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good.”
We read from First Samuel 15:28-29 “28 So Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. 29 And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent.” From Isaiah 46:9-11 we read: “9 Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’ 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.”
And He said through the prophet Ezekiel “I, the Lord, have spoken it; It shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not hold back, Nor will I spare, Nor will I relent; According to your ways And according to your deeds They will judge you” (Ezekiel 24:14). James 1:17 also teaches the immutability of God: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning.”
Why it is impossible for God to change? The immutability of God is necessary for His perfection. If anything changes, it must change for the better or, the worse, because a change that makes no difference is not a change. For change to take place, either something that is needed is added, which is a change for the better; or something that is needed is lost, which is a change for the worse. But, since God is perfect, He does not need anything. Therefore, He cannot change for the better. If God were to lose something, He would no longer be perfect; therefore, He cannot change for the worse. Secondly, the immutability of God is related to His omniscience. When someone changes his/her mind, it is often because new information has come to light that was not previously known or because the circumstances have changed and require a different attitude or action. Because God is omniscient, He cannot learn something new that He did not already know. So, when the Bible speaks of God changing His mind, it must be understood that the circumstance or situation has changed, not God. For instance; when Exodus 32:14 and 1 Samuel 15:11-29 speak of God changing His mind, it is merely describing a change of dispensation and outward dealings toward man.
Because God is immutable (unchangeable), the Bible is as relevant today as when written and finished. God said what He meant and meant what He said.
It is not possible to understand the motives of persons who say that the Bible is not relevant today, we do not have that ability, but there are two possible underlying reasons. They are novices (unlearned), or they do not want to accept what it says. Jesus addressed this second reason in His discussion with Nicodemus. We read from the gospel of John: “19 And this is the condemn-nation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:19-21).
To this second classification of people, we again refer to the words of Jesus as he taught His disciples about the cost of discipleship. We read from Mark 8:34-37: “34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Are not those who will not accept the words of the Bible as being God’s unchanging word, being seriously foolish? What will their rejection cost them, if not their souls? God is not going to change the message of the Bible in this generation or any coming generation. His word will remain the same forever and always!
Has God Changed His Message Follow-up
Our devotional “Has God Changed His Message?” dated 3-18-19, has generated so many responses, many positive and some negative, that we feel it necessary to restate what we said. “God does not change His message. Never has and never will.” There were many affirmations of this truth, but there were a few who responded negatively. Each negative remark fed off the remarks of a previous responder. They began with a challenge to our usage of the New King James Bible (NKJB) in our Scripture postings. The challenge was that the NKJB has eliminated several words found in the King James Bible (KJB). That challenge is accurate. This led to challenges against other versions of the Bible used by various ones. All these challenges do not change the fact that God does not change His message. He said what He meant and meant what He said. It is man that changes what God said.
Personally, I believe that the KJB does record what God through His prophets said, what Jesus said, and what He inspired His apostles to write accurately enough to convey God’s message. I also personally believe that He has protected His word in this translation. I also believe that the NKJB can be trusted even though several words have been dropped or changed. In my personal evangelism I have used both translations in witnessing to others with positive results. Many have been added to the Kingdom of God and to the church through these texts. This is also true of others who have used these translations. Granted, there are many translations and paraphrased versions that have greatly distorted God’s word, but let me say again, God has not changed His message. This was the point of the devotional.
But consider: Does a person become injurious to another when he or she cast doubt on God’s word? Wouldn’t it be better to encourage someone to read and trust the Bible rather than claim that it can’t be trusted? Perhaps it would be better if each one of us who have been Christians for any amount of time, in our own private studies, affirm to ourselves the correctness of the version we are using. If the version we are using has strayed so far that we can’t encourage others with it, then we should stop using it. Perhaps we should even warn others about its inaccuracies, but not without a full explanation. We should confirm to them that God has not changed His message. We are going to be held accountable for the way we handle God’s word and what we say about it and Him. Each of us should come before the throne of grace daily asking God to illuminate His word to us committing ourselves to following that illumination. We should not and we must not follow our own preconceived ideas. If we center on the truth that God’s word is all about Jesus Christ from cover to cover, we will be on, and stay on, the right path.
Submitted in Christian love of you all.
Do We Have Nimrod’s Among Us?
Nimrod in the Bible was the great-grandson of Noah through the line of Cush (Genesis 10:8). Nimrod is described as the first of the “mighty men” to appear on the earth after the great flood. Previous to the flood, there had been giants and mighty men on the earth, and “also afterward” (Genesis 6:4; Numbers 13:28 and 13:33; 2nd Samuel 21:15-22). From examination of the biblical texts and other ancient documents, it is clear that Nimrod was one of these mighty men. He appears in history several years after the flood of Noah. He established a great kingdom that included “Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar” (Genesis 10:9–10). He later extended his kingdom into Assyria, where he built the cities of “Ninevah, Rehoboth Ir, Calah and Resen” (verses 11–12). Besides being a man with great physical stature and strength, he had a great strength of will. With this will he persuaded and dominated peoples of the aforementioned areas.
There is nothing wrong with being a large man with extraordinary strength (a giant) nor of being of strong will, but Nimrod was also a man that denied the authority of God. We read from Genesis 11:1-4. “1Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. 2And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. 3Then they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. 4And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’” According to the historian Josephus, Nimrod “said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to reach. And that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 4). The motive, according to Josephus, for building the Tower of Babel was to protect humanity against another flood. However, the reason for the first flood was humanity’s wickedness and rebellion (Genesis 6:5–6), from which humanity refused to repent. Nimrod was rebellious against God, just like his antediluvian forebears, and, according to Josephus, he “persuaded [his subjects] not to ascribe [their strength] to God, as if it were through His means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness.” Isn’t this the attitude of many people of our world today, especially the world’s leaders? In similarity to Nimrod they have lead mankind in rebellion against God. Many have adopted the philosophy that man himself, by human devises and governance, will bring the happiness they seek.
While God is adding vast numbers of people in some areas of the world to His kingdom, many others are denying the authority of God over mankind. In our own country, the United States, God is increasingly being denied, cast out of government, schools and even religious institutions. Government has become the God to many. But God will not be mocked. Psalm two is a great commentary on who is really in charge. Consider, “1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? 2The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, 3‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us’ 4He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. 5Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure: 6‘Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion. 7I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 8Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession. 9You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’’ 10Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. 11Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling. 12Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”
While it may seem to many that either there is no God, or that He is disinterested in the affairs of man, or that He has lost the battle, nothing could be further from the truth. We Christians have the testimony within ourselves that those assertions are incorrect. God deniers should be aware, God does exist. He is interested in the affairs of man, and He has not lost the battle. There is coming a day, perhaps soon, when Jesus Christ The Son of God will physically descend upon the earth and establish His kingdom, which will last for 1,000 years. At the beginning of that 1,000-year period He will have awarded those who trusted in and committed to Him during their lifetime. At the end of that 1,000-year period He will judge all others with this judgment: “11Then I (John) saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” This need not be, because “16God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16-18).
Believing in Jesus
What does it mean to believe in Jesus? Is believing that He was a person of history or a good man have any eternal value? Must a person believe something more about Him? He said that He was the Son of God and made this claim: “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). If His claim is true, then a person must act on that claim if he wants to be accepted by God. John the Baptist, another actual person of history, said of Him, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:35). This was a reference to Jesus being the sacrifice that would satisfy God’s judgment against sin. The apostle Paul addressing this in his letter to the Christians of Rome wrote: “6For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.10For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (5:6-10).
Earlier in this letter Paul laid out the case that, “10There is none righteous, no, not one; 11There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God” (Romans3:10-11). Later, he informed his readers that, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). This confirms that every person needs to be reconciled to God. Paul gives the reason for this in chapter five of this same letter. Writing about the entrance of sin into the world and its remedy, he wrote, “12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned–13(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.15But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.17For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) 18Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:12-19).
Many people believe that Jesus was a person in history. They accept that He was a principled man, even a good man and a great role model, but they remain lost in their sin. They will remain in that predicament until they understand that they are sinners separated from Holy God. Their only remedy is believing (trusting) in the finished work of Jesus alone, and then acting on that belief. Jesus Himself testified, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have ever lasting life” (John 3:16). Later in the same chapter He said, “18He who believes in Him (the Son of God) is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19And this is the condemnation, that light has come into world, and men loved darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. 20For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deed may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:18-21).
The crux of the matter is, as Paul wrote, “9If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10). By this Paul meant that Jesus not only lived but that He died and then rose from the dead. He died and rose again for a purpose; the purpose of securing for you and me, and all other persons who would trust in Him, forgiveness of sin and the salvation of our souls. Confessing with our mouth testifies that we believe this and have taken a stand for that belief. Believing and confessing are action words moving us from just believing facts about Jesus, to trusting in Him for our salvation.
God’s Passionate Love for Man
That God passionately loves man is borne out by this truth; “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). From the record of the Gospels we know that God the Father did give His only begotten Son, not as a philosopher, a teacher or a humanitarian, but as a sacrifice. A sacrifice that made it possible for man to be forgiven of his sin and be enabled to be a recipient of Jesus’ righteousness. His sacrifice was the shedding of His blood and the offering of His body. The apostle Paul came to understand the depth of God’s love for man and as and encouragement to the Romans about it, He wrote;
“1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 6For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.12Therefore, just as through one-man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned– 13(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. 17For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) 18Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:1-19).
Paul, formally Saul of Tarsus, was a Jew who believed strongly that the keeping of the Law made him righteous before God. He believed this so strongly that he went about persecuting those of his own people, Israelites, who thought to worship God by any other means. He sought license from the Sanhedrin (These were Jewish religious leaders) to arrest and cast into prison those who would devalue the keeping of the Law. He firmly believed that the death penalty was to be carried out on those who would not follow the tenets of that Law. But God, as He does in all those who are regenerated to new spiritual life, opened Paul’s understanding and brought him to saving faith in the only sacrifice that could satisfy God’s justice, the shedding of His Son’s blood. That is, the killing of His only begotten Son.
What greater love could there possibly be? God’s love for man is a love that provides. His love suffers long, is not self-serving and never fails.
Saved by Grace Through Faith
As we consider our position in Jesus Christ, which is our relationship with Him, there is perhaps no better passage that we could turn to in affirmation of this positional relationship than Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In this letter Paul’s talks about himself and his companions’ being predestined according to the purpose of God (1:1-12). He adds that they, his readers, could and should join in their exuberating because they, like Paul and his companions, had believed in the finished work of Jesus, their salvation (1:13). Having declared this to his readers, Paul went on and gave the reason for their exuberating. Turning to Ephesians 2:1-10 we read; “1And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. 4But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Oh how wonderful it must have been for them to understand that the reason for their salvation and their exuberating rested not in themselves, but because of God Himself! Even when they were dead toward Him, walking in the lust of their fallen natures of the flesh, He regenerated them to newness of spiritual life. It was by His grace, or unmerited favor toward them, that they were saved. Verses 8 and 9 emphatically state, “8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9not of works, lest anyone should boast.” By His grace, God forgave them of their sin, and as His gift to them He gave them the ability to believe and trust in Jesus.
The wonder of it all is this grace, and the ability to believe is extended to us. Wow!
Heaven by Election or by Choice
On Wednesday August 22, 2018, Grace Thru Faith posted the following. “I am currently involved in a Christian chat room whereby debating and fellowship occur. One of the debates that comes up frequently is whether man has free will when it comes to choosing our Lord. Many feel that it is predetermined and those that will be saved are the ‘elected’. I know the Lord is all knowing and knows who will come to him and who will not. But I am having a very difficult time thinking that the Lord has predetermined who will be saved and who will not. I truly believe that the Lord is love and he would not create some simply for them to go to hell. Can you clear this up for me? Do we have free will or is there predestination? Thank you.”
In reply, GTF answered, “This question can be put to rest with a careful reading of the best-known verse in the Bible. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes will not perish but have everlasting life.’ (John 3:16) The word ‘whosoever’ means that anyone who chooses to can believe and be saved. Romans 10:13 also tells us that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. There are several other verses I could cite but you get the idea. Salvation is the gift of God offered freely to all who will receive and accept it.
In Matt. 7:7-8 the Lord said, ‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.’ He was talking about our salvation. It really sounds like it’s our decision, doesn’t it? In order to deny this, you must put words in the Lord’s mouth that He never spoke. (Grace Thru Faith is a publication began by Jack Kelly who is now with the Lord).
We at Transforming Power; The Work of God on Behalf of Man agree with GTF’s understanding of Predestination or a matter of choice but will add that even though God has predestinated certain ones to salvation, He has not closed the door to anyone. Man’s choice is involved. As an example of this I draw your attention to Ephesians 1:1-12; “1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus: 2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. 7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth–in Him. 11In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.”
Paul declared that he and Timothy, Titus, and others who had accompanied him, had been chosen from the foundation of the world. So had Abraham, Joseph, David, Mary-the mother of Jesus, and John the Baptist. Was their choosing to follow God forced upon them or did they choose to do so? They were not forced but chose to follow Him. An example of this is found in Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus recorded in the Gospel of John 3:1-21. In this passage Jesus declared the Holy Spirit moves among men birthing some to newness of spiritual life. This birthing was not abstract. That is, it was not dissociated with looking to God’s provision. God provided, but those being regenerated had to look.
Even though Paul and his fellows were chosen for service before the foundation of the world, it doesn’t mean that they had to believe God and commit to Him. (The why of their decision just isn’t explained). As we read on in Paul’s opening dialogue in his letter to the Ephesians we gain more of an understanding. From 1:13 we read, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Paul and his fellows being chosen before the foundation of the world was not disassociated with their believing. And so, it is with all persons, God has sent His spirit in to the world to convince and convict them of sin and has given them an inward intuition of their need of God’s grace.” (Also see John 1:1-5; Romans 1: 18-22).
In truth, all persons are endowed with a will by which they can believe or disbelieve, but because of sin many have chosen not to believe. Consider John 3:14-22. “14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
If you are a believer, praise God, but if you are one who is not a believer, it is because you have denied the knowable truth. Search God out and you will find Him.
Heaven, by Election or by Choosing; Part Two
It is clear from the response we received from some of our readers that God’s predestination of some to heaven (to salvation), and not all, is greatly misunderstood. Seemingly, these persons and others see predestination as being two sided. That if God has predestined some to salvation it then carries that He has predestined others to Hell or to be lost. This assumption is incorrect as the free will of man is involved. Predestination does not mean that man has no say in his salvation or his final destination of heaven or hell. Even such persons as Paul had a choice even though he was chosen. He had been chosen or predestined before God created the world (see Ephesians 1:4-6) but chosen or predestined does not mean that he had no choice in answering God’s call. This is true of all those who come to salvation. God’s efficacious call is active, but so is man’s will.
However, God does something in those He has predestined that He does not do in others. In essence, God has given a general call to all of humanity, excluding none. But He gives a specific call to those who choose Him. Does this mean that God is unfair? No. The general call is sufficient to its desired end which is the salvation of the hearer. Many do hear, answer that call and are saved (awarded salvation-heaven), but just because the general call is sufficient doesn’t mean that the desired end is met (2nd Peter 3:9). Not all persons who hear the call answer positively. They reject the message that is in the call. Jesus in dialogue with Nicodemus gives the reason for this; “19And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19-20).
This rejection is the rejection of the message that is in the general call, but for Jesus to be glorified in His sacrifice God by an efficacious call assures that there would be some who would answer positively. Continuing with Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus, we read; “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:21). Note that the act, the deed of believing and committing, were and are sourced in God. Believing is one thing but committing to it is another. In the believing and committing we see both God’s election and man’s will. God’s message was and is overwhelming (efficacious in nature) and by free will man commits to the message. What a wonder!
About the Author
It was by the grace of God that Steve was brought to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It was by God’s longsuffering that he has been sustained in that faith. Steve became a Christian on November 7, 1961 when as a young marine on liberty he came upon a street meeting held by Open Air Camp-aigners for Christ in the city of Los Angeles, California. For the remaining three years of his enlistment after coming to faith, Steve immersed himself in various books and studies concerning his relationship with Christ. During those three years he worshipped at Granada Heights Friends Church in La Mirada, CA on Sunday mornings and the Church of the Open Door in Los Angeles, CA in the evenings.
Steve was encouraged by three families who were members of Granada Heights Friends Church and nurtured his faith. To these three families he will forever be grateful. Those three years were a tremendous blessing to Steve. It was the foundation gained in those years that sustained him through several tumultuous years during which he walked away from a faithful walk with the Lord and lived as a prodigal son. But thanks to God, Steve was still a son. Like the prodigal of Luke 15:8-22, he was never disowned by the Father. In 1985, after living a life of riotousness that almost destroyed him, Steve surrendered to the authority of God and has since been in the service of his Lord and Savior Jesus, the Christ.
Steve readily acknowledges that it was and is only the grace of God that allowed him to remain alive during those years and by God’s love that Steve was brought back to fellowship with Him. This grace and love, Steve believes, is best spoken of in Romans 8:28-29. “And we know that all good things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and who he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
It is confirmed in this passage that each child of God is being conformed (being changed) to the image of Jesus Christ. First, however, God calls that person out of the world into a loving relationship with Himself, making him a son. He justifies that person so that they may have fellowship one with other and that justification makes it possible for him to eventually be in the very presence of God.