Tired of all the fighting that goes on in facebook groups? Are you ready for a community where you can talk about things of God and the Bible without getting branded a heretic? Well, we are glad you found us. Why don't you give us a try and see how friendly and different we are. - BroMatt
I want to say from the outset that there are many unbelievers, and even well-meaning Christians that have a proclivity of incorporating the word "luck" (as a habit) into their daily vocabulary; and I know all too well that they most certainly do NOT believe in luck due to their understanding of Scripture. Wishing someone "good luck" may bring about positive results, and conversely, just the opposite.
I can't tell you how many times I hear people say, "Good Luck" each day. Let's get one thing cleared and settled: there is absolutely no such thing as LUCK. The word *chance* is only used 6 times in the entire bible (Heb. "qara/miqreh/pegha") and (Grk. "sugkurian/ei"); see Deut. 22:6; 1 Sam. 6:9; 2 Sam. 1:6; Ecc. 9:11; Lk. 10:31; 1 Cor. 15:37. A better way to understand the word "chance" as used in the bible are *two events* which occur at the same time by divine providence (cf. Lk. 10:31).
And by [chance] there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:31) " Here we get the word "chance" -- which is comprised of two Greek words; ("sun" meaning "together with", and "kurion" meaning "supreme authority"
The Bible makes it crystal clear that God is absolutely SOVEREIGN over all affairs (Ps. 115:3; Isa. 46:10; Jon. 2:9; Jn. 6:65; Rom. 8:28-30; 9:15-21; 11:36; Eph. 1:14-11; Tit. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:1-2) -- whether good or bad. If I tell someone, "good luck!" . . . does this "increase the chance" of something to occur for the better in their personal life? Or does wishing someone "bad luck" increase the chance of the person whom this bad luck is directed at to fall victim to it? Moreover, can you "measure" luck? and if so, is there a criterion as to how it is measured? Sadly, this entire world has fallen prey to the wiles of the god of this world (Satan). The amount of times the word "luck" is used in just one day is incalculable. Where does this word originate from? Have you ever heard of the idiom "the LUCK of the devil"?
A form of "gambling" is mentioned in the bible, and it is referred to as "casting lots" (cf. modern-day lottery; Lev. 16:8; 19:26; Num. 26:55; Deut. 18:10; Josh. 7:14; 18:6; 1 Sam. 14:42; cf. 14:24; Jonah 1:7; Prov. 16:33; 1 Chron. 26:13; book of Esther; Ps. 22:18; Jn. 19:24; Acts 1:23-26); or it can be linguistically linked to such words as "Sortition" or "Cleromancy." So far we have gleaned that the Bible says nothing about "luck", nothing positive that is.
But ye are they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number. Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not. (Isaiah 65:11-12)
We believers know that the Lord has not left one single thing to "chance". The plan of God encompasses every single event that has or ever will take place, down to the sub-atomic level from one end of the universe to the other -- and so how much more when it comes to those He loves?
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31)
The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD. (Proverbs 16:33)
Our workplace is by far one of the most challenging places for a Christian to be at in my opinion. Everyday presents a "new challenge" for us; but it also grants us the opportunity to be an example of what and who a TRUE Christian ought to be. We will encounter struggles and obstacles from fellow co-workers and managers who will put us under extreme pressure at times. Why is God allowing this? And how are we to behave ourselves when confronted with these things?
If we were unbelievers, the devil would have no reason to seek to trip us up (cf. Eph. 2:2; Job 2:1-6; Zech. 3:1-2; 2 Cor. 2:11; Rev. 12:10), no desire to bait us into behavior which might compromise or damage us, no interest in accusing us before the throne of God. Our workplace is indeed one of the key venues for the devil's attacks. Hence, we must always be on our guard in respect to our behavior there. The workplace is also where we generally have the greatest witness of life to the widest circle of people of every spiritual state and condition, and we can be sure they are scrutinizing us and our Christianity (cf. Matt. 5:13-16; 1 Cor. 15:33; Eph. 5:1-5; Phil. 3:17; 1 Tim. 4:12; Tit. 1:6-8; 2:7; Heb. 13:7; 1 Pet. 2:12). Therefore the key thing for any Christian in any job is to remember to always do the job "as unto Christ" (Eph.6:5). This is a standard we are to maintain, even when the treatment we are receiving is unfair by any objective standard. So much is this true that we should adopt the policy of exemplary service, even if were actually enslaved (as many of the first generation of Christians were):
Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. (Ephesians 6:5-8)
We, of course, are free men and not slaves (unless to the LORD), but the principles above apply to us whenever we are under authority of anyone else in the workplace: Jesus is the real issue, not us (Jn. 15:18-27). Just as in the rest of our life, at work we have to be very wary of overreacting to the tests that come our way: Jesus knows we are being tested, we could not be so tested if He did not allow it (Gen. 22:1-2; Deut. 8:2-20; Jer. 17:10; Job 23:10; Ps. 105:19; Matt. 4:4; Jn. 6:5-6; cf. Rom. 8:28; 1 Thess. 2:4; Heb. 4:15; James 1:12; 1 Pet. 1:6-9), and He is in all such cases truly working everything out for our own good (whether we appreciate that fact or not). Since Jesus is the real target of all the devil's machinations, in all of life's tests we must avoid taking the troubles that come our way personally.
Because when we are clear in our thinking and not under pressure but are focused on the truth of scripture, we do understand these things (Josh. 1:8; Isa. 26:3; cf. Ps. 1:2; 119:15; Prov. 4:20-22; Phil. 4:8; 1 Tim. 4:13-15;). But of course, when we are under the gun, it takes an aggressive application of faith and truth to counteract the emotional "voices" that would have us act contrary to what we know is right (cf. James 1:22-25; Rom. 13:14; 1 Cor. 4:16; Eph. 5:8; Col. 3:16; Tit. 2:10; 2 Pet. 1:10; 3:18; 1 Jn. 1:7), to what we know is the truth. The self-discipline we must exercise in the Christian race is precisely the control of our bodies/emotions but in a mental/spiritual way (as opposed to a purely physical way). This is all easier to say than to do, of course, and also easier to encourage others to do than to do oneself. None of us find it easy, and the better we get at it, it seems the more challenging future testing becomes -- because God wants us to keep growing, *not* because He doesn't care. Indeed, it is precisely because our Lord Jesus *does* love us so much that such trials come our way, for that is the only way for us to continue to grow *and* to glorify Him.
Job looked around and saw the other believers of his generation and also many unbelievers relaxed and at ease, and with no apparent worldly troubles. He controlled his emotions a long time and through pressures that would break all but the most exceptional Christian. Eventually, even he buckled (under the weight of the false encouragement of his friends!), and likewise started to ask the "Why me, God?" question; he eventually let his emotions out of the bag, and they got the better of him. With the benefit of hindsight provided by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:26; 16:13; 1 Jn. 2:20), we now know that all that happened to Job was in fact because the Lord was paying him one of the greatest compliments any believer has ever received: to be singled out among all those living on earth as an example of someone who truly loved and feared and obeyed the Lord, and who would continue to do so despite the most intense opposition and pressure imaginable -- and then to have the entire experience recorded *in the Bible* for all time. I can tell you with a great level of assurance that if God had told Job the situation before the testing began, Job never would have faltered. But that wouldn't have taken anywhere near the same amount of faith (and would not have resulted in the same wonderful and wonderfully useful set of lessons his experience now offers to all believers who take these things to heart.
We have these lessons, but we don't all use them (or at least use them to the degree that we should). Paul did. He actually BOASTED about his sufferings (2 Cor. 11:30; 12:9-10), an attitude which requires a complete understanding of the source of the opposition (the devil, *not* God), the purpose of it (our growth, *not* our unhappiness), and the result if successfully negotiated (God's glory and our eternal reward, NOT our destruction). This is the stuff of spiritually maturity; this is the way to honor Jesus Christ; this is the route to great eternal reward. In my heart, I would not trade the slightest, most insignificant measure of reward (which will glorify my Lord and please me for all eternity) for all the blessing and prosperity, all the peace and quiet this present corrupt world has to offer. For this world is passing away, but the things to come will last forever.
Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: Forwhere your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
I cannot counsel anyone on the specifics of how to handle their current situation at their workplace. In most organizations there are proper protocols to observe, and as Christians we must do so; and there are procedures which may be employed in order to set things right. What I can do is to encourage those to proceed and to act in an honorable Christian way in all things, in a way, that is, which will bring honor and glory to our Lord. In fact, I have no doubt that we can indeed do so. Just remember to keep Jesus in our mind's eye, remembering that He is our refuge against the invisible foe, and that He is our deliverance in all things. Whatever happens, we know that for those who truly do love Him, is perfectly working every single detail of our lives out for the absolute divine good, whatever our earthly eyes may perceive (Rom. 8:28).
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 is one of the the most familiar verses in the Bible and one of the verses people most like to "claim." It also seems to be one of the most misunderstood and misapplied. All too often, the misunderstanding arises when someone refuses to simply allow the scripture to say what it says. The most obvious misunderstanding is the fact that the verse does not apply to everyone -- it applies to "them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." This is not a promise that a lost world is in any position to claim, as they do not fit that description. Rather, this promise is one given to true believers who know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.
Sadly, even among Christians, there often seems to be major misunderstandings in relation to this verse. Some mistakenly take it to mean that nothing bad can come their way, and they then find themselves completely bewildered when something comes along that rocks their world. In a case like that, it is the first half of the verse that has been misinterpreted and misapplied. There are most certainly bad things that come into the lives of believers. Death is not good. Sickness is not good. Pain is not good. When God created the universe and found His creation to be "very good," those things were not a part of it. They were brought about because of the sin of mankind. The wonderful truth of the matter is, however, that an almighty, sovereign God can take bad things that were not a part of His original creation and use them to work for our good. If you will allow me, I would like to give you a personal account in which I found that to be true.
I will not go into the specific details of my experience because there were other people involved and I do not wish to say anything that would violate their privacy. Suffice it to say, I faced one of those situations that I spoke of earlier that rocked my world. I thank God that I was grounded in His word, because if I had not been, the situation that I lived through could have easily washed me out and severely damaged my faith. It was something that forced me to rely on God far more than I ever had before. It was also something that pushed me to action in something that I had said for years that I wanted to do "one day."
I stated in my introductory post that I have recently published a book. While I did not explicitly state this, if you read between the lines, you might have also deduced that I have a soft spot for kids. Children's ministry is, in fact, one of my greatest passions. I have taught kids' classes at my church since I was 19. I've been one of the sponsors that took my church's elementary school aged kids to camp four times. Vacation Bible School week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. I could continue, but you get the point: I love kids. That thing that I said for so long that I wanted to do but never completed was writing a children's novel.
Ultimately, I truly believe that God held me back from doing in until the time was right. There were a few abortive attempts, but none of them ever went very far, and I never came anywhere near writing a full book. Then, my foundations were shaken. At that time, I decided to try once again to write a book, this time, in large part to keep my sanity. However, I did not want to write just any book. I wanted to write something that would be a help to young people who read it. I wanted it to be an entertaining story, but a story that would teach Biblical values. I wanted it to feature characters that were not ashamed of their Christianity. I wanted it to be something that might be edifying to its readers. Lo, and behold, this time it happened.
I would be lying if I said that there are no longer times that I struggle with what happened in my life two years ago. It was something that completely reordered large parts of my life, and in some very negative ways. I very much wish that what happened would not have happened. If I told you what it was, you would no doubt say the same thing. Even so, I would not undo what it changed in me. As I said, it helped me to learn to trust in the Lord much more than I ever had. It is my natural tendency to worry, but my experiences in these last two years has greatly cut that down. It also strengthened the passion that I already had for young people, and gave me an even greater desire to minister to them. When I think about my own troubles and how difficult they were for me as an adult, if makes me think about how much tougher they are for a child, thus increasing my level of compassion. Since then, I've found that new opportunities to do that, such as the book, have presented themselves, and I see other possibilities on the horizon, no doubt because God has used the trials of my life to give me a fuller understanding of the needs that exist. It is truly amazing to see how He moves.
All things are not good, but we serve a God that is more than capable of using even the bad for our good. He can use those things to strengthen us personally and to make us a better witness to others. Nothing catches Him by surprise, and nothing can thwart His will. I have learned not to say that something can never happen to me. I have been affected by things that I would never have believed could happen. But more than that, I have found that my God can use them all to shape me into someone whom He can more easily use. Yes, for the believer, all things work together for good.
1 John 4:10, “The Propitiation for Our sins.”
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us,
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
The word propitiation means, “an atoning sacrifice.” An atoning sacrifice is a sacrifice that atones for sins. To atone for ones sins is to reconcile a person to God. The sacrifices of the Old Testament animals, or any animal of any culture, cannot take away sins; they were temporary until the Lord Jesus shed His blood to pay the penalty for our sins. The Lord Jesus became the Lamb of God that takes away our sins.
John 1: 29 says, “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
Only the blood of Jesus can take away our sins.
Revelation 1:5, “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”
The Lord Jesus shed His precious blood on the Cross of Calvary to save us from our sins. Jesus Christ is the propitiation, or atoning sacrifice, for our sins.
Leviticus Chapter 1
The book of Leviticus was given in order for mankind to know that we needed an atoning sacrifice, as a propitiation for sins, for the payment of sins. In these ordinances, God told the nation of Israel how to conduct these sacrifices. In Leviticus 1:1-9, God gives us some very important aspects of the sacrifices. God was very specific about the offering. The sacrifice must be according to what God said.
“If the offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD.” Leviticus 1:3
The sacrifices of the Old Testament Law, specifically the book of Leviticus, were to be brought on the voluntary will of the individual. Every man has a will and God wants our sacrifice to come from the voluntary will of the individual.
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23
The Lord Jesus Voluntarily Gave His Life to Became Our Sacrifice
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51 The Lord Jesus willingly gave His life for our life.
God Sent the Lord Jesus to Become the Atoning Sacrifice
God sent Jesus to become the propitiation for our sins. The plan of God, before the foundation of the world, was for the Lord Jesus to leave heaven and become the propitiation, or atoning sacrifice, for the sins of all mankind.
Why? Because God Loves Us
Verse 10 says, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
We also need to notice that before we loved Jesus: Jesus first loved us. In verse 10, the scripture says, that, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.
In the sight of God, man is not righteous and not seeking Him. Romans 3:10 and 11, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”
But, God is seeking man. God does not want anybody to spend eternity in hell. Hell is the place for the punishment of our sins.
Luke 19:10, “For the son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
The love of God, and the love of the Lord Jesus, was manifested on the Cross of Calvary. John 3:16 says, “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.”
On the cross, the Lord Jesus, of His own free will, became the propitiation for our sins. Jesus loves us!
We have seen some tremendous truths in this passage of scripture that can help us understand the love of God.
And we found out that, God is seeking us and that Jesus Christ willingly allowed Himself to be crucified on the Cross of Calvary that we might be saved. The Lord Jesus became the propitiation, the atoning sacrifice, for our sins in order for to have eternal life in heaven. We need to accept this sacrifice in our hearts for our salvation and have a heart of thanks.
“The LORD was with Joseph”
Genesis 39:1-6, “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, brought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down hither. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptians house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not aught he had, save the the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.”
Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” Joseph had faith and loved God. Joseph was a “good man” and righteous in his heart and in his relationship with God. God allowed the evil actions of his brothers in order to test Joseph and to prepare him for the responsibility to rule Egypt. Therefore, the steps of the good (in the sight of God) man, in any generation, in any country, in either the Old or New Testament dispensation, are ordered by the LORD.
Psalm 17:3, “Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.” When Joseph was a slave, God tested Joseph to see if Joseph loved, and trusted in God, with his heart. Joseph, like Job, had integrity... Joseph was determined not to transgress God and His ways. Like Job, Joseph was upright, feared God, and hated evil. Job 1:1, “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.”
One of the highest respected men in the Chinese church in China, Wang Ming-Tao says, “Those whom God uses, who can be used by God, must be of noble morality and conduct, and a good reputation among men. God is a holy and righteous God, He will only use those men who are also holy and righteous men.” 王明道說「神所要使用，能使用的，也是高尚的德行和好名聲的人。神是聖潔公義的神，他所要使用的人也是聖潔的人。」1 Free translation by the author.
If we are to walk with God then we must be in agreement with God and His ways. The ways of the world are not in agreement with God and we must be separate with the ways of the world. 2 Corinthians 6:14 & 15, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness: and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”
The false gods, idols, and beliefs of the false religions of this world, have no place in the life of the individual who wants to walk with God. 2 Corinthians 6:16 & 17, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” The world is an harsh environment for every saint. Like Joseph, we need to keep ourselves separate from the evil things of this world and walk with God.
Joseph is an example to the Christian who desires to serve the Lord in a harsh environment. Joseph felt that he was serving God whether in his father's house, among his deceitful brothers, in the hands of an Egyptian master and under the authority of the king of Egypt. The Lord Jesus said, Luke 19:17, “And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.”
Every Christian can examine the example of Joseph and Job and serve the Lord Jesus as a servant in any occupation and the Lord can be with you.
The LORD was with Joseph
Joseph had a good relationship with God. Every day, Joseph walked with God. Even in the times of his distress Joseph walked with God. Like Job, Joseph separated himself from the sinful habits and ways of this world and walked with God. Joseph is an good example to the Christian. If we want to have a good relationship with God, and have God with us, we need to hate evil and not transgress the ways of God.
As the LORD was with Joseph, the apostle Peter states, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” Acts 10:38 Joseph was an example of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God prospered Joseph and his work
Joseph walked with God. Because Joseph walked in the ways of the Lord, separated himself from the evil ways of this world, God blessed him, his work and his relationship with other people.
God wants to prosper the Christian. 3 John 2 and 3, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest proper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.” Please notice, we need to walk in truth. We need to walk in truth in our talk, our character, and in the doctrines of the scriptures.
God is willing to help us spiritually, mentally, in our family life and in our work. God wants every Christian to be stable. Colossians 2: 6 & 7, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Joseph was separated from the evil things in this world, walked with God, and was established in his conduct, and in the truth.
And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand
Joseph was completely trustworthy with the physical possessions of his master. Joseph did not steal, did not pilfer, did not miss-use, and did not cause any harm to the physical goods in the house of his master, or under this direct control. Joseph was faithful in all that was under his authority. Joseph is an excellent example for the saint who works for other people in any occupation. Every Christian in any endeavor of work; whether in a factory, a business, a store, an office, a government bureau, the military, and in other occupation, should be the most trustworthy individual the boss has.
Joseph was a goodly person and well favoured.
Remember Psalm 37:23? “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” We need to learn how to be good in our conduct. In the eyes of the world, in the eyes of his Egyptian master, Joseph had a strong testimony.
The character of Joseph was like the character of the Lord Jesus. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Luke 2:52
Lastly, Paul the apostle stated that the man who is the bishop, or elder, or pastor, of the church, should be of likewise character and conduct. “Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the the snare of the devil.” 1 Timothy 3:7
1Wang Ming Tao, Treasuries of Wang Ming Tao, Volume II The Hard Road, (Touliu, Taiwan: Conservative Baptist Press, 1996), Page 314. 王明道，王明道文庫，第二冊，小徑（臺灣台中：浸宣出版社，1996），314頁。
Grace: It’s Meaning and Source
By Jim Foley
Country Baptist Church
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
If you are a Christian there are words that you have been familiar with all of your Christian life. Many of them are more or less taken for granted; we just don’t dwell on their meaning. As Baptists this word, “grace” is a fundamental of the faith and often used in sermons and lessons.
You seldom go to church without hearing this word mentioned, but how many of us really know what it means? There is probably no other word in Scripture that is so poorly understood. There are a great many people who have received the grace of God into their hearts, but who, if they were asked what the word means, might be troubled and confused and unable to define it.
The plain meaning of the word “grace” is unmerited mercy. Though this is the plain meaning there is so much more that goes into not only the meaning in its positive nature, but also in its negative nature.
Let’s examine this term unmerited mercy. The word, mercy, speaks volumes about its nature. For mercy to even exist there must be an entity higher than the recipient of this mercy. In our case this entity is the Almighty God that spoke all things into existence. He is all powerful and able to accomplish any thing he desires.
Ro 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
The source of Grace:
John 1:14 And the Word was made 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.
Joh 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
The highest manifestation of this grace was when God gave his son to save this lost world. The very fact that God chose to save an undeserving world speaks volumes. He certainly didn’t have to do it and there is no force that could make him do it. He did it out of love. He did it because he is a benevolent, righteous and loving God. In this respect his benevolence, righteousness and love can only result in grace. An illustration could be made in this way; H2O is water, it consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. H2O always produces water; it is chemically impossible for it to produce anything else. Grace is this way, it is impossible for the actions of God to result in anything but grace; it is an integral part of His nature.
The positive nature of grace is that it is a gift. The last clause in Eph.2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: as such Scripture declares plainly that grace is a gift. A gift is freely given, it cannot be earned, nor can it be given as a reward for good deeds. Rom 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
God deals with man in grace, he has from the very beginning. Adam is a case in point; there was no sign that Adam recognized his lost condition, no cry for mercy and pardon, and certainly no confession of sin. Yet God sought him out specifically that he might bestow his grace upon him. He met Adam, as he does all mankind, in his lost and ruined condition. He bestowed upon Adam the promise of a coming redeemer, Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Notice that he did this without Adam asking for it, or even recognizing that he needed it. This is grace. Grace then is unconditional; God bestowed his grace on Adam in his ruined condition.
For six thousand years God has been trying to show mankind this great and glorious truth; that he wants to deal with man in love and grace. He expects no payment in kind, he requires no attempt to clean up our life, as a matter of fact to even make an attempt to clean up our life in an attempt to merit God’s favor is an insult. God said his grace is a free gift. To even think that there is anything we can do, or can take the place of what God accomplished in Christ is the same as saying to God that His sacrifice was not sufficient.
By grace God devised a scheme of redemption for fallen man, justice never would and reason never could. No sinner would ever have sought out God; just like Adam, he sees no need simply because he doesn’t even recognize his lost condition. It is always God that seeks out fallen man, never the other way around. Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. Nowhere do we read that he came to save those that were looking for truth and pardon. This is what the Scripture means when it says that we are blind.
There is a special aspect of grace that is both sobering and enlightening. First, God has provided his grace to all mankind, even to those who do not know of it and even those who will never accept it. This special aspect of grace is faith. It is only by faith that we can apprehend grace for ourselves. This faith is unique in itself, for it is not our faith. The scripture affirms that the faith to believe is the faith that Christ bestows on every believer. It is his faith, not our own, for in the first place we have no faith other than that which a holy, just and righteous God has provided. Notice the grammar in the last clause of our text in Eph. 2:8. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Grace is the object, but faith is the vehicle that allows us to arrive at the object. The scripture affirms that this vehicle, faith, is the gift of God.
We think of the Apostle Paul in respect to unmerited mercy. Paul had never done anything that could rise to the place where he could merit God’s mercy. He had kept the law as best he could as a Pharisee. He had done everything he possibly could against Christ and the church. But when Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, he met him in pure grace. This concept is brought home all the more clearly in Jesus’ question to Paul where he asked, “why persecutest thou me”? Paul was in active opposition to God and his grace when he set out to kill or imprison all who professed faith in Jesus.
God’s grace shines through even more clearly when we understand that God dealt with Paul in the condition he found him in. He was, at this point in his life, a God hater, even though he thought that what he did, he did in the name of God. God was using the witness and lives of the Christians that Paul persecuted as a preparation against Paul’s day of mercy and pardon. This is what God meant when he said to Paul: “it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” This is a reference to the practice of ox drovers who would use a long pole with a sharp end to “goad” the ox in the direction the drover wanted it to go. God had been “goading” Paul in the direction he wanted him to go. The witness of those that Paul persecuted was what God used as a goad. Though Paul had done nothing to merit God’s grace, still God provided it and brought Paul to the realization of the truth of his word.
What can we say about works before justification, or works for justification? Simply this; what we would call good works before justification are not pleasant to God. This is because they do not spring from faith in Jesus Christ; neither do they make men able to receive grace. Think with me, good works conducted to merit the favor of God have not been done according to the way God has designed his grace to be given; therefore they have the nature of sin, because “whatsoever is not of faith is sin”.
The thought of the God of all heaven and earth freely providing grace to those who do not deserve it is almost beyond our comprehension, it runs counter to everything we are conditioned by our fallen nature to believe. How sad it is to come to the understanding that there are multitudes that will never avail themselves of the grace that God has willingly and loving provided for every person who has ever lived on this earth.
This is what is meant by God when he says in his word that “And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” The free gift has already been provided; the only requirement to laying hold of eternal life is simply to take the grace that God has already provided.
THE NEW BIRTH
Text: John 3 :1-21.
The text at hand shows that there is something that is extremely important to every individual that comes into this world. It also shows that there are some that are aware of it but for the most part, mankind is ignorant of its necessity. This subject is so important that it is the reason that the Bible was written, it is also the reason that the Son of God came to this earth, leaving the glory of heaven, to suffer at the hands of men. It is the reason that you are here in this world now, and as such it is the answer to the age-old question; Why am I here? It is also the reason that the existence of people and nations are recorded as they are in both the Old and New Testament. Nations rise and fall and the history of this world is ordered in such a way that the purpose of it all might result in the redemption of each and every lost sinner, even though they do not know that they are lost.
The subject at hand is the new birth. What is it? Jesus said it this way; ye must be born again. It is salvation, redemption. And as such it points to the fact that there is something deathly wrong with man in his natural state. . For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
There are many things in this life that while you may need them, it is not a matter of life or death---THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM. We are all given a certain amount of time here on this earth for the express purpose of finding Jesus and appropriating his righteousness to our account, the result of our failure to accomplish this is spiritual death and a separation from God and his heaven forever. Ver.3. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Once the time that we have been allotted runs out there is no recourse, death forever locks us into the condition that we were in when he visited---and it is irreversible.
Our text mentions two subjects; Jesus and Nicodemus. He had heard Jesus teach and now, in the darkness of night, he comes to Jesus. He recognized in Jesus something extraordinary, his spiritual eyes had begun to open and he realized that this man was from God. Ver.2. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. The fact that he came at night also shows that he came secretly and alone. This points to a very important aspect of the new birth; it is personal and the sinner must come to Jesus on a one to one basis concerning salvation. Notice again the command in Ver.7. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. It is directed at Nicodemus alone, though the entire world may be in need of this salvation, this is his time, and Jesus speaks to him in a very personal way.
You may have seen people coming foreword and claiming to be saved, but Salvation is not in coming foreword, it is not in talking to the preacher, it is not in joining the church; it is not in repeating a prayer. Salvation is a personal experience with Jesus Christ, it is in trusting him with your eternal destiny, coming to him in simple faith with the assurance that he can and will save your eternal soul.
This lesson then will convey to us the idea that this new birth is a must. The word, “must”, is an imperative, and Jesus meant it to be, for he said, “ye must be born again”. If the new birth is so important why doesn’t everyone know about it? It is simply because they are spiritually dead, . And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; This is why Jesus had to come; this is the only way that man can become aware of his condition. And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
Salvation then, becomes mandatory equipment for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven, it is not optional as some believe, and it is the only way to get to heaven. Jn.14: 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
This new birth is to be understood as spiritual in nature, Ver.4-5. Show not only the mistake that Nicodemus made, but answer of the Lord showing the spiritual nature of the new birth. Here he speaks of two births, the first is the natural birth, born of water, and any doctor will tell you that when a baby is born it is a water birth. The second birth Jesus terms, “born of the Spirit”, this is the Spirit of God. This is why we call it a spiritual birth, Ver.6. Says, “That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit”. Jesus then compares the spiritual birth to the wind, meaning that it is a mystery, we can see the effects of it, but it cannot be seen with the eye.Ver.8. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Ver.9. Shows that Nicodemus still did not understand these things. He is still lost. What a paradox; he is standing in the presence of eternal life and yet he does not recognize it. It must be remembered that this man was a master, or teacher in Israel, a spiritual leader, yet he could not comprehend spiritual things. Ver.10.
Ver.13-17. Shows the plan of salvation as well as the purpose and need of a savior.
By speaking to Nicodemus concerning the new birth, he showed him that there was something that he was lacking spiritually, something that he desperately needed. Now he shows him God’s plan to remedy the situation. Notice that God’s remedy is rooted in love, Ver.16. 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. And it is also predicated on the sacrifice of Jesus, the Son of God as payment for my sin.
Jesus ends his discourse with Nicodemus by showing why the need of the new birth is so great. Ver.18-19. Man thinks that when he dies God weighs the good and bad that he has done, and if the good outweighs the bad, he goes to heaven. But these verses should show the foolishness of this line of reasoning. When these verses speak of the word “condemned”, it is in the sense of the trial already being over, sentence has been passed and now man only waits the carrying out of that sentence. There is only one thing that can change a judicial condemnation and that is a pardon; this is what Jesus offers. By accepting him as your Savior you can change your status from an enemy of God, doomed to an eternity in hell, to a child of the King. The scripture does not record what Nicodemus did with this information in regard to his spiritual welfare, and history has yet to record what you will do with this information. What will you do with Jesus? The answer to this question will determine what he will do with you in regard to your spiritual state.
Have you ever noticed how insincere we are when we pray? Just today I was thinking about prayer and I thought of praying over a meal. Then the thought came to my mind, "I wonder just how often we truly are thankful for our food, and how many times we just say that we are." It's sad that this should even be an issue, yet it is. We have made prayer so mechanical. I see it in my own prayer life. Certain things I always say in my prayers have become empty words, I pray sometimes, only because I have to. Then when I do open up my heart to God and really pour out my thoughts to Him, I think "Wow, that was amazing!" But shouldn't it always be as such? Shouldn't we open up our heart to God every day? It's no wonder our churches are full of weak Christians, they have no connection with the Father.
I believe very firmly that prayer is for your benefit, not God's! Why would God need us to talk to him? He already knows our thoughts. If pray, then, is for our own benefit, the only person we're hurting through insincere prayer is ourselves. Are we really so petty? Have we become so selfish as to hurt ourselves because we don't want to put forth the effort to talk sincerely with God? It is so sad to me that so many Christians have so little love for their Saviour as to spend so little time with Him! What is the purpose of prayer, if not to express your love and trust for God. We say that prayer, as it pertains to salvation, is simply an outward expression of the heart. Does not the same hold true for your Christian life? We need to check our heart and ask ourselves, "Why are my prayers so empty and insincere?"
Please pray for the church and college. The following was released from the school: It has come to our attention that allegations of inappropriate conduct have been made against Cameron Giovanelli, a member of our staff. Upon receipt of the notice of the allegations, we immediately placed him on administrative leave of all activities and responsibilities, to conduct a thorough and honest investigation. ..........
Many preachers teach that 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 teaches that the sign gifts will cease, the claim is that the "perfect" of vs 10 is the completed canon of scriptures. However I have a hard time seeing how the completed scriptures were what enable Paul to "know even as I also am known". I am beginning to wonder if this interpretation of this passage of scripture is a knee jerk reaction to charismatic doctrine and chaos? I see it as a definite possibility that what the "perfect" is and what Paul means by "then shall I know even as I also am known" as a reference to our condition in glory, or something of that nature. So I have several questions
1. Does the cessation of spiritual gifts hinge on 1 Corinthians 13:8-12? What other passages of the bible teach cessationism of the sign gifts?
2. Can we know with certainty based on Biblical exegesis that the "perfect" of vs 10 is the completed canon of scripture? or do we just say that because we have heard preachers teach that?
This was the closest to an acceptable explanation that I could find about vs 12, but I still have trouble and feel like it glosses over the phrase "shall know even as also am known"
"The word translated as glass (esoptron esoptron) literally refers to
a mirror. The ancients did not have the technology to make useful mirrors from glass. Rather, they were made from polished metal. Of course, the imagery thereon was not clear, but somewhat fuzzy. The word translated as darkly (ainigma ainigma) is whence the English word enigma derives. Here it has the sense of ‘not clearly,’ or as the Authorized Version renders it, darkly. The idea was of the obtuse imagery of ancient mirrors. The application was to the limited degree of spiritual understanding and knowledge present in the early church ab- sent the New Testament.