In the eternal good pleasure of God, He predestined His elect to adoption as children of God (Rom 8:30; 9:23; Eph 1:4–5; 1 Jn 3:1, 10). God decreed their salvation before time (Rev 13:8; 17:8), and in time He causes them to be born again of God, by His Spirit making them alive in Christ (Jn 3:1–8; Eph 2:5; Col 2:13; 1 Pet 1:3). This is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.
First, God causes the Gospel preacher to be sent (Rom 10:15), and this Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached in the power and with a demonstration of the Spirit (1 Cor 2:4). The Spirit of God fills the preacher and inspires him to proclaim Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2). If the preacher is not filled with the Spirit, he will preach psychology, philosophy, politics, and man-centered theology in a topical sermon.
If the Spirit is at work, there will be a public reading of the Scriptures (1 Tim 4:13), and the sermon delivery by the preacher will explain the chosen passage (verse by verse) from the Bible. He will explicate the terms in their context, the theology found therein, and he will apply the original meaning to his listeners, so they might understand and live accordingly.
While the preacher preaches in the Spirit, those who have ears to hear will recognize the voice of Christ instructing them in the Gospel of grace (Jn 10:3–4). As the Word of Christ enters the ear of the hearer, externally, the Holy Spirit also begins His internal work in the one whose heart He enters (Ezek 36:26; 2 Cor 4:6). The Spirit says, “Let there be light,” and there is light in the heart of His new creation (Rom 6:4; 2 Cor 5:17). This is an irresistible work of God…just ask the first creation (Gen 1:3)!
Second, regeneration is the powerful, internal work of the Spirit in creating a new spiritual creature (2 Cor 5:17). The natural man is deaf and blind (1 Cor 2:14), with a heart of stone (Ezek 36:26). He is dead to God (Eph 2:1), and he has zero spiritual discernment without his receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Mk 1:8; Acts 2:38; 1 Cor 12:13), who then abides permanently in the soul of the elect, redeemed (Rom 8:9, 11; Gal 4:6; 2 Tim 1:14; Heb 13:5).
The soul of man includes the mind, the heart, and the will. The Holy Spirit puts the Word of God into the mind of the regenerate man. He gives illumination to the things of God by giving the man the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16). It is the Spirit who searches the deep things of God (1 Cor 2:10, 12), and then reveals them to His chosen ones in accordance with His measure (as with faith — Rom 12:3).
The renewal of the futile mind transforms the thinking (Rom 12:2; Eph 4:17). With the mind of Christ, the new believer sets her mind on the things of the Spirit (Rom 8:6), on the things above (Col 3:2). Her eyes are on Jesus (Heb 12:2), who is authoring faith in the mind of the saint. She now has a mind that wants to know God (Phil 3:10). Her thoughts are of Christ and His kingdom. She now loves God with her mind (Mt 22:37). It is Christ’s Spirit who opened her mind to understand the Scriptures (Lk 24:45).
One Spirit is granting one mind to Christ’s one church, despite the diabolical deceptions of the devil and his demons in the name of Jesus. The Christian has her mind set to know the truth (Jn 8:32; 14:6). She grows in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet 3:18).
The Holy Spirit’s internal work is efficacious in the inner recesses of the heart of the elect child of God. The life-giving Spirit opens the heart of those chosen to hear and believe the Gospel (Jn 6:63; Acts 16:14). These remnant believers were appointed to eternal life before creation (Rom 11:5; Acts 13:48). The Word preached made them hear and believe (Rom 10:17).
Regeneration removes the heart of stone toward God and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ezek 36:26). The heart for God is a miracle considering the natural man’s rebellion, obduracy, incessant inclination to evil, and penchant for pride. The human heart, apart from Christ, is wicked above all else (Jer 17:9). Its inclination is only evil all the time (Gen 6:5). Sin is the natural hardening agent, and the natural man is a slave to sin (Jn 8:34; Rom 6:6).
The heart transplant produces new affections. Hatred for God is transformed into love for God and Christ (1 Jn 4:19). The demonstration of God’s love for His bride, the church (Eph 5:25), is publicly displayed at the cross by Jesus (Jn 15:13; Rom 5:8).
This love prevails, being irresistible, for God is love and Christ constrains His people with His love (2 Cor 5:14; 1 Jn 4:8). He loved us, that is, His beloved from every nation tribe and tongue (the world), by pouring His love in our hearts (Rom 5:5) as a token of even better things to come (2 Cor 5:5). The Spirit in us is the God of love, loving us from within, explained in His love letter to us (the Bible). We have love for God because He first loved us (1 Jn 4:19). We did not choose Him, but He chose us (Jn 15:16; Rom 11:5; Eph 1:4).
The infusion of new qualities in our innermost parts includes the human will. It is not in the enslaved will of man to want, nor to work any aspect of transformation (Jn 1:13; Rom 4:5). When God puts His Spirit in us, He puts His will in us with Him. His will is for His people to be conformed into the image of Christ (Rom 8:29), who is the icon of God (Col 1:15). The end goal is for us to see Christ Jesus as He is (holy), so we become like Him in mind, heart, and will (1 Pet 1:16). His Spirit causes us to know His ways, His covenant, and to walk in His statutes (Ezek 36:27).
The transformation from regeneration is nothing short of amazing. We who were dead are now alive to God. Evil works have become good works, by Him who wills and works His good pleasure in us (Phil 2:13). From disobedience to His Law, we now walk by the Spirit of Christ (Gal 5:25), who causes us to walk in His statutes (Ezek 36:27). From a selfish will comes a new prayer, “Not my will, by your will be done.”
Christian, know that He who began this good work in you will grow you and strengthen you by His grace (Phil 1:6). He will never leave you nor forsake you in this work begun at regeneration (Heb 13:5). He will complete it, even perfect it. Regeneration is all a sovereign work of God’s Spirit, with no contribution from you. For this reason, we give thanks and honor Him who is still at work.k here to edit.
By David Norczyk
First, election is biblical (Lk 23:35; Rom 11:5; Eph 1:4–5; 2 Tim 2:10; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 2:9). Nobody denies this, but how election is defined is in dispute.
Second, election is eternal. God chose a people for Himself before He created anything in the material/physical universe (Rev 13:8; 17:8).
Third, because election is eternal, it is unchangeable. God Himself is immutable, therefore, what He purposes will come to pass.
Fourth, when God chose His people before creation, He was entirely free. He was constrained by nothing.
Fifth, the eternal purpose of God in election comes from His eternal will.
Sixth, God’s eternal will is the result of His eternal counsel.
Seventh, God’s eternal counsel comes from His eternal good pleasure.
Eighth, election is theo-centric. Election is of God, and is not conditioned by anyone nor anything else. God is the subject in election.
Ninth, election is unconditional. God makes His free will choice without any foreseen circumstances.
Tenth, election is decreed. God has issued an eternal decree, which establishes the election of those He has determined to save by His grace, in time.
Eleventh, election is personal. God knows each person He has created and for what purpose He has created them, whether that be election or reprobation.
Twelfth, election is God’s choice. Considering all people deserve eternal punishment, having gone the way of sin, it is only mercy on God’s part to save some. Those He elected are those He saves.
Thirteenth, election finds no grounds in its objects. There is nothing that makes a man elect-able.
Fourteenth, election is gratuitous and unmerited. Man does no work to gain election.
Fifteenth, election is the fountain of every saving good. Every item in the order of salvation results from election.
Sixteenth, election includes the glorious end, as well as the means to that end, meaning the whole of salvation.
Seventeenth, there is only one election, which results in only one people of God. There are not many elections, producing more than one people of God. The one people of God are His elect.
Eighteenth, election is all grace. If one is elect, it is only by God’s grace.
Nineteenth, election is sovereign. God, in His absolute wisdom and power, freely chooses a select group.
Twentieth, election has a definite number of individuals who make up Christ’s body, the church.
My thanks for the work of Homer C. Hoeksema, “Voice of the Fathers”. 2nd edition. (Jenison: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2013), which is a commentary on the Canons of Dordrecht 1619. The above list is a concise summary of my notes on election taken from his excellent work.
By David Norczyk
Original available here
Does God wait for people to do something before He does something? With man-centered theology, the answer is a resounding, “yes.” With God-centered theology, the obvious answer is, “no.”
The premise with man-centered theology is that God has done His part; now it is time for you to do your part. He’s waiting for you.
In the errant view of man-centered theology, God has loved everybody, everywhere, and at all times. Christ died for everybody, but now everything is hinging on what you are going to do. The Triune God is playing charades with everyone. The picture is drawn and the clues have been given, now the God-head frantically tries to help you decide that Jesus is the answer.
The agents of charade evangelism work, work, work to create games, sporting events, and candy-laden programs to entice everyone to come and see the big show. Everything is an allure to prepare people to meet Jesus so they can make the right decision about Him and be saved. In this humanist theology, smart people choose Jesus, and stupid people reject Him.
I read a post, yesterday: “to criticize the church for such erroneous ideas is like someone spitting in the face of a bride with her groom standing by.” When I suggested that the history of the church, and even the entire Bible demonstrates, that when the infidelity of God’s people worsens, He sends prophets, apostles, and reformers to correct the church…click…delete…well, my post lasted all of one minute.
Why don’t we like the God of the Bible (Rom 1:30), who sits in the heavens and does what He pleases (Ps 115:3; 135:6)? Is He waiting on us to work to make the kingdom a physical, visible reality on earth as the Roman Catholics and the post-millennialists purport? Will He only work to get things done if Christians are unified? Mercy! What other conditions do men place on themselves that God has not placed on them? Answer: legion, for they are many!
The truth is that the one true God, revealed to us on the pages of the Bible, and by the Holy Spirit’s illumination, is absolutely sovereign in His workings. In His eternal good pleasure, He has issued an eternal decree for all things to come to pass. Nothing operates outside of His decreed will (Rom 11:36). His will is to work all things for His glory. His works are so sure to happen that they are said to be finished from before the foundation of the world (Heb 4:3).
Why is this an affront to His creatures? It is good news for the redeemed, who stand by and watch the machinations of humanity come to their futile end (see Ecclesiastes). Man is not God, nor will he ever be. The serpent promised deity to man in the garden (Gen 3:5), and man has believed the deceiver’s lie ever since. This is why Mormons think they will someday be like God the Father, being a deity over their own individual planets.
Every time a pastor entices you to choose Christ and be saved (Pelagian/Arminian heresy), or every time a pastor tells you to obey the Bible without reference to the Holy Spirit’s sovereign work in you (Judaiser), he is deceiving you.
God has ordered everything by His sovereign will. God is working His will in everything. He causes everything to happen. The earth spins. The sun shines. The flower grows. The human is conceived, and everything else…everything…is the work of God.
This is the affront: God deserves the glory for 100% of it all. We should give thanks to Him in everything and for everything. This is why God is not the God of second chances. He is the God of the sovereign, providential here and now. He is not waiting for anyone nor anything because He sits on His eternal throne, and He dwells within the hearts of His people, to do all His will and good pleasure. Who else could work all things for the good of His people who love Him?
From a Guest Blogger
For the past 12 months we’ve had a number of lockdowns with warnings to, “Stay at home, save lives”. During this time I’ve heard about many deaths …
“Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He comes forth like a flower and fades away; He flees like a shadow and does not continue.
Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with You [God];
And [God has] set his limits so that he cannot pass.” Job 14:1,2,5
Life is fragile and death is certain. Our days are numbered. No one escapes.
But Jesus said:
“I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25
From Guest Blogger
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
It’s only recently that I’ve begun to realise just how integral the Church is to God’s plan of salvation. I understood that when I was saved I became a child of God and a member of His family but I didn’t fully grasp the implications.
God’s family is more than a theoretical concept, and I am not an only child. Christ died to purchase a people, a bride, a Church, a body (1 Peter 2:9-10; Ephesians 5:25-27; 1 Corinthians 12:27). To think that I can remain functionally isolated from the rest of His body is to deny an essential aspect of the gospel.
Membership of a household clearly implies the kind of close, everyday relationships that families who live together participate in. Being built together and being fitted together are more than vague notions. These words don’t describe scattered or isolated individual believers, or a one-time event. They require ongoing close proximity and regular contact. Belonging to, and being actively involved with, one specific local fellowship of believers is inseparable from individual salvation. It’s an absolute essential, not an optional extra.
I was saved to be part of the body. If I’m not, I deny God’s Word and weaken the body of Christ.
From a Guest Blogger
But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. John 4:23
“The worship was great!”
When I say something like this, what I’m really talking about is the music. This takes no account of truth, or the state of my heart, or my relationship with God. If it’s just about the quality of the music then it doesn’t even matter whether those participating know God; a believer and an unbeliever could both reach the same conclusion about the quality of ‘the worship’ based on whether or not the music is enjoyable and well-produced.
My evaluation of ‘the worship’ in this sense is presumptuous. It’s based on what it does for me, how it makes me feel, my own enjoyment of it. In reality, who am I to comment on whether the worship is great, or dismal? Worship is not for me, it’s for God.
Jesus said that true worshippers must worship God in spirit and in truth. This kind of worship is a much less tangible activity than music, quite likely invisible to an observer and, therefore, impossible to assess in the terms we often use to evaluate what we call worship. Only God, who sees the heart, is truly able to determine the quality of the worship that’s offered to Him.
From: Guest Blogger
The word of the LORD which came ...
The Bible is true because it is the Word of God, breathed out, written down and preserved from generation to generation, despite many efforts to destroy it. It is an invaluable gift from our loving Father to us. It shows us who God is and what He requires. It reveals the holiness of God and the sinfulness of sin. It shows us our helplessness to meet God’s standard. From Genesis to Revelation it reveals God’s plan of salvation.
Jesus Himself believed the scriptures and quoted them frequently. He never cast doubt on God’s Word. He did not come to do away with the law but to fulfil it. When He said, ‘You have heard it said … but I say …’, He was not undoing, undermining or re-writing God’s Word, He was emphasising the spirit of the law in order to cut through our outward behaviours and expose their root: the sin in our hearts.
God’s Word doesn’t stop being true when times change – it’s true regardless of cultural norms and preferences. The Bible doesn’t become true a bit at a time at the point when you understand it - it was true already, whether you understood and accepted it or not. God’s Word has always been true and always will be, because God never changes.
By Simon Wills
Exodus 39: 1-43
The beauty of this chapter is in its length. It lays out the garments and the preparation of the tabernacle - how it is to be made and presented. The detail to which this chapter goes is quite extraordinary –
They hammered out gold sheets and cut them into threads to be woven in with the blue and purple and scarlet material, and the fine linen.
This crafting would have to be done with immense skill and great care.
The final part of the chapter goes through a long list of the things required to put up the tabernacle. It, too, is of considerable length. All of this was done to allow a chosen man to appropriately present a sacrifice as atonement.
What blessed times we are in now. Where we can come to God in repentance anytime, anywhere, wearing anything. We worship the same God. He deserves the same amount of reverence and care that the Israelites would have approached Him with. And yet He has also allowed us to have this beautiful, close relationship with Him, by His Son Jesus Christ. This God who has every right to strike us down, has given us the right to approach Him freely.
This gift we have from God cannot be overlooked or passed by. We are to remember His sovereignty and loving grace. We must approach Him accordingly, with deep persistent thankfulness.
Colossians 4:2 (NASB)
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.
We can never forget the immensity of Christ’s sacrifice. The work He did on the cross forever secured that relationship we so dearly love.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB)
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
From a Guest Blogger
though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials
1 Peter 1:6
To hear many Christians talk one could be forgiven for thinking that faith functions as an anaesthetic. If only a person has a solid theology and a strong enough trust in God then they won’t feel the pain of suffering, loss and disappointment. We tend to be impressed by those who appear to remain strong and positive in the face of tragedy. We can easily be left with the impression that to feel pain is to fail.
But does it follow that if I know beyond doubt that God is in control of all things, and I believe that He has a plan and a purpose in all that He allows, and I submit to His will, trusting that He works all things together for good for His own, then I don’t won’t suffer when suffering comes and I remain untouched by trials?
Consider Job. He expressed great faith and submission in the face of unthinkable loss – The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away – blessed be the name of the Lord.” And yet his grief and mourning were real and deep.
Hannah describes herself as a woman of a sorrowful spirit. But was it lack of faith that caused her to weep bitterly over her situation? Surely it was because of her faith that she poured out her sorrow to the Lord, knowing Him to be full of compassion and sovereign power.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears (2 Corinthians 2:4), not because he lacked a sound knowledge of God but because affliction, anguish and tears are part of our experience in this fallen world.
Our Lord Jesus Himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. In the Garden of Gethsemane He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death’. Jesus had no gaps in His theology - He and the Father are perfectly one. He had no lack of awareness of God’s plans and purposes – He knew precisely what His suffering would accomplish and the good that would be worked through His death. His faith was not feeble and His trust was not deficient, nor was there any lack of submission to God’s will. And yet this perfect knowledge and understanding, this complete trust and perfect submission, did not take away the pain. His sorrow and agony were real and intense; greater than any we will ever know.
The trials and sorrows we endure in this life cause real pain, grief and distress, and the Bible does not teach us that faith, or anything else, is the key to avoiding suffering. Rather, God’s Word tells us that suffering is a necessary part of the Christian life. But it also tells us that we can rejoice greatly, because our suffering is only for a little while and because it is not for nothing. It is testing, proving and purifying our faith, as by fire (which is painful), resulting in praise, honour and glory when Jesus returns.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:6-7
By Tony Hersee
As I was reading through a passage in the first letter of the apostle Paul to the Corinthian church, I was struck forcibly by the phrase "and have no love". It occurs three times of in the first three verses of chapter 13, and began to make me consider whether I knew, or even experienced, this quality/fruit in my own life.
These thoughts have been heightened by the present coronavirus crisis, coupled with an attitude of stubborn self-seeking defiance and reliance throughout my whole life, uncaring and irresponsible towards those who should have had my love, support and encouragement.
Paul doesn't pull any punches - he continues - "though I speak with the tongues of men and of
angels but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal". This was a level, position and stage I had not reached in my understanding and application of the Christian faith, and I could see that it urgently needed reviewing.
Other illustrations came to mind as I was considering these things. The recent floods and the engraved water-level marks on various buildings show the fluctuations between the actual and predicted level reached. Hallmarks are given by a silversmith to a metal to represent the standard and measurement of the material he has used in a given item. These were pictures showing me a standard of perfection and a shortfall – simultaneously – in both my imagination and realisation of what my own charity/love was like, and what I achieved in not having them. Being brutally honest, as Daniel was, when addressing King Nebuchadnezzar's son Belshazzar, "I had been weighed in the balances and found wanting/lacking".
As I reflected on these things throughout the remainder of the chapter, I began to be made aware of the sinfulness of my whole life and personality as desperately needing to be changed - and this is what by GOD's grace and power, Jesus Christ has achieved on my behalf, by His death and resurrection.