“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet."--Matthew 5:13

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Blessedness of Election and Adoption

 "He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved."
-Ephesians 1:4-6

The doctrine of election is one that has seemed to be a divisive issue among believers for many years. Proponents for and against election are both ardent in their views on the subject. While those who stand against this doctrine claim to have scriptural proof against it, it is hard for anyone to argue against God’s sovereign election from Ephesians 1:4-6.

Paul states clearly, in his letter to the church in Ephesus, that God had chosen His people before He had even created the world. But why would God choose me? This has been the question asked by everyone who understands this doctrine. The fact of the matter is that God chose His people, not because of any merit of their own, for we are all sinners, but He chose His elect for the purpose of living holy and blameless lives before Him. Once the Lord opens one's mind to the doctrine of God’s electoral grace, this person should not respond in arrogance. We should not lord our election over everyone’s head, so to speak. The Lord’s people should respond to their election with humility so that they can be blameless before Him.
But this passage goes on to describe much more than God’s election. Not only did God elect His people for salvation, He has also adopted His people through Christ. This means that we are royalty. We have been adopted into the royal family through the selfless sacrifice of the Prince of Peace. We have inherited every blessing that Christ the Son has inherited, which is eternal life through His death and resurrection.

Let us not respond to these doctrines in arrogance, nor with ignorance. But let us respond in a spirit of humility. And let us not spend precious time hotly debating these doctrines with other believers, but let us calmly encourage each other, praying that the Lord would open minds to a proper understanding of His word. Oh what blessed doctrines these are. Thank the Lord for your election and adoption!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Cleansing Effects of the Spirit

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
-I Corinthians 6:9-11
When a home catches fire, no matter how small the blaze, the effects can be devastating. A fire destroys everything in its path. Nothing is immune. But even when the fire is safely extinguished, extensive damage from smoke and water often remain. If the fire is extinguished quickly, the home can be saved. However, everything that has been exposed to the fire, smoke, and water, must be extensively cleansed in order for the home to be livable once again.
Photograph by Hollyn Johnson, The Bay City Times

This is analogous of sin, which, much like fire, consumes everything in its path. Its pervasive flame cannot, and will not, be stopped unless extinguished by Christ.

Paul therefore rhetorically asks the Corinthians if they understand that no unrighteous will be in heaven. He then lists a number of sins that are grotesque to God: sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, theft, greed, drunkenness, and others. Apparently someone had been intentionally misleading this group of Corinthian believers by telling them that they could still partake in these sins, while claiming to have salvation, and receive the kingdom of God. However, Paul’s point in writing this is to say that those who continually commit sin without conviction and repentance have no righteousness within them. They are merely posing as believers. There are always times when we struggle with certain sins, but the mark of true faith in Christ is the conviction of the Holy Spirit, which causes repentance in our hearts and forgiveness by God. Just as a home that has suffered extensive fire damage is unlivable for human beings, so a soul that continually commits sin without repentance is unlivable for the Holy Spirit. A person cannot truly be a believer while engaging in these destructive sins.

However, Paul follows this warning with words of hope. Prior to their faith, the Corinthians had been dead to righteousness. They were engulfed in the pervasive flames of these particular sins. But Paul says that Christ has extinguished that unrighteousness, washed their souls, and provided a clean place for the Holy Spirit to reside where it could do its work of sanctification. With that cleansing, His people have been justified by the name of Christ and by the Spirit of God.

The Lord can cleanse a heart that has suffered from the pervasive effects of sin. He can save His people from these horrendous sins. A believer may have a relapse from the past life every now and again, but true faith always yields conviction and repentance. Let us strive to have a repentant heart, seeking to do all that is necessary to eliminate temptation to sin.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hate This Evil Life, Love Righteous Eternity

"Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."
-John 12:25

We live in a day in age in which quack psychology reigns. So-called experts in the field of psychology tell us to think positively and that all negativity should be erased from the mind. Positive thinking, they say, leads to positive outcomes, and positive outcomes leads to happiness. This is also a central tenant of Zen Buddhism, which has undoubtedly impacted modern thinking.

The day in age in which Jesus lived was no different than our own, for there is nothing new under the sun. The Greek and Roman pantheists promoted the same type of worldview that is being promoted today. However, Jesus told His disciples that the person who loves his life will lose it, whereas the person who hates his life will keep it for eternity. What does Jesus mean by this statement?

Those that will receive eternal life are not people who spend their Sundays on the ball fields or doing other trite and vain things. Those that will receive eternal life are not those who seek to accumulate wealth and material possessions. Those who will receive eternal life are not even those who devote their whole lives to charity. What Jesus means by this statement is that those who will receive eternal life are those that do not love this world or the things in it. His people must live in this world, but they are called to be set apart from it. They mus recognize that this world is fading and is only temporary. His people must also recognize that they are aliens in this world, citizens of a much greater kingdom. There is more to life than the things that the world calls good. Human life exists for the specific purpose of worshiping and glorifying God and serving Him forever.

Therefore, the one who loves his life in this present world is the one who will lose his life for eternity. However, the person that hates this evil and fallible world, recognizing his heavenly citizenship, is the one who will have his place in eternity with Christ.