God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility in Harmony

packer-245x300“the living God, who created the entire universe and actively upholds it in being (otherwise it would vanish away, and so would we as part of it), knows everything that has been and now is and foreknows everything that will be just because, in a way that totally passes our understanding, he plans and decides and controls everything that takes place. From inside (and we are all insiders at this point) the cosmos appears as a huge interlocking system of cause and effect, the working of which scientists can examine, map out, and within limits predict because the processes all operate with what appears as built-in regularity. But Christians know what science can never find out, namely, that all the processes of nature are willed and sustained directly by the Creator, every moment, down to the smallest detail, as also are the free-flowing thoughts that run through our minds, and the dreams that befuddle us while we sleep, and the self-determined, accountable decisions about what we will and will not do that we make in a steady stream throughout our waking hours. Let us say it clearly: all the regularities of nature, including the functioning of our own minds and bodies, are as they are because God wills and keeps them so. Nothing would be as it is – nothing, indeed, would exist at all – were it not for the active will of God…

To affirm God’s sovereignty over everything around us, within us, happening to us, and issuing from us takes nothing from our certainty (which Scripture confirms) that all our thoughts, words, and deeds, including all our motives, purposes, attitudes, and reactions, are truly our own, not forced upon us from outside but coming out from within us, so that we are in truth responsible subjects, open to assessment both by other people and by our own consciences, and finally by God himself. Rather it adds to our certainty that, as our continued existence and all our living really involve God, so God really involves himself in an overruling way, somehow (just how, no creature can conceive), in all our circumstances, motives, actions, relationships, experiences, joys, pains, pleasures, griefs, and ventures, which form the situational reality of our daily lives.”

J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom, Guard Us, Guide Us: Divine Leading in Life’s Decisions (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 199-200.

State of the Nation Regress

hotbuttonDr. James White is his usual biblical self as he reflects on a tweet from President Barack Obama and what it means concerning where we are as a nation in light of God’s word.

Counseling: Delighting in the Sufficiency of Scripture

Saturday, June 29, 2013.

Jim Newheiser, Director for IBCD (the Institute for Biblical Counseling and Discipleship) and Pastor of Grace Bible Church in Escondido, CA, teaches on the theme “Delighting in the Sufficiency of Scripture.”

Christian Nation?

Creation156Quotes by Chris Rosebrough:

“Can we now stop talking about the United States as a ‘Christian Nation’ so that we can get back to preaching the Gospel to pagan Americans?”

“Politics is NOT the power of God unto salvation, the Gospel is!”

The Gospel Is Not Chained

John_HendryxHow Should Christians Respond to the Changes in Culture?

When you behold the direction the culture is taking, do not ever let anger get the best of you. Recognize that not only does God have a specific purpose in it but that part of that purpose is to make a clear distinction between truth and falsehood. It may even have the positive effect of clearing out the false believers in our ranks. When the world sees more of the genuine article, by God’s grace, they will probably be more interested in what we are all about. So the political and social situation should never have us change the core message of the gospel. The Apostle Paul said, when in prison, “the gospel is not chained”. We can observe this phenomenon in more recent history when we see nations such as China who had the greatest revival in the history of mankind under the severe persecution of Chairman Mao. We should learn from this that no government or culture will EVER stop the advance of the kingdom of God. So while God would have us always to promote righteousness in every sphere, including the way we vote, our hope does not find its root there, not even by a long shot. Our hope is in Jesus Christ who is coming to judge the living and the dead.

Yet because of our hostile culture, many evangelicals may feel intimidated, and have decided to turn to the safety of “deeds not creeds,” in order to avoid being called judgmental. Do not let such philosophy persuade you. Words are the most critical part of the message of the gospel and faith comes through hearing. The proclamation of the gospel must include a robust declaration of the fall, a recognition of human depravity, a repenting of all self-righteousness and trusting in Jesus Christ alone. In these jars of clay God has deposited the message which is the only solution to the world’s problem. This is all by the grace of God. We are by no means better than others just sinners like them, pointing to the water of life.

– John Hendryx. monergism.com

Redemption

Pastor Bruce Brock writes:

A good way to understand “redemption” is to look at the biblical words used for it. There are three Greek words and two Hebrew words.

1. Agorazo (Gk) describes a marketplace, an “agora” where all kinds of goods were purchased. This suggests Christ’s saving work was his purchasing us for Himself in the world’s “marketplace”.

2. Exagarazo (Gk) closely related to the first with the addition of the prefix, “ex” which means out of. Christ has bought us out of the marketplace with the idea that the person purchased might never have to return there again. 1 Pet 1:18-19

3. Lytrosis has to do with freeing a slave by paying for him. Jesus has freed us from sin’s slavery by His death. Jesus has redeemed us and purchased us by His blood.

A rich understanding of the redemptive work of Christ is seen in the Old Testament.

1. Kopher means “a ransom price.” It refers to the redemption of a person who, apart from that redemption would die. If your animal killed someone and you knew that animal was dangerous, you could forfeit your life. Old Testament law provided a way the owner could come to an agreement with the relatives of the deceased, and it would be possible for him to pay a ransom price. This ransom price was called the “kopher”.

a. Jesus ransomed us from not only sin’s power; He delivered us from death which is the punishment God established for transgressions.

2. The last word we will look at is go’el which means “kinsman-redeemer”. Here was a principle of Jewish law that property should remain within a family if possible. So, if a Jewish person lost his or her share of the land through debt or some other means, an obligation evolved on a near relative (if there was one) to buy the property back again. This close relative was a “kinsman” and if willing and able to purchase the property and restore it to the family, he became a “kinsman-redeemer. In some cases, where there was no male heir to inherit the property, the duty of the kinsman extended to marrying the widow in order to raise up an heir.

There were three qualifications in order to be a kinsman-redeemer:

a. He had to be a close relative (a stranger would not do).

b. He had to be willing to take on this responsibility (nobody could be compelled to do this work).

c. He had to be able to pay the ransom price (he had to have sufficient means at his disposal).

RUTH: A ROMANCE OF REDEMPTION. All three conditions of the kinsman-redeemer were fulfilled in our Lord Jesus. The book of Ruth makes these truths vivid. It is the story of Ruth and her kinsman-redeemer, Boaz.

In redeeming us, Jesus fulfilled similar qualification: 1) He became our kinsman by the incarnation, being born in this very town of Bethlehem, 2) He was willing to be our Redeemer, because of His great love for us, 3) He was able to redeem us, because He alone could provide an adequate redemption price by dying. Job 19:25-27

The redemption of Ruth may not have cost Boaz a great deal, at the most money; but our redemption cost Jesus Christ His life.

The Called Out Ones

Andrew, James, John, Matthew, and others. He called them not to a study of the law, of science, or of a trade; rather, He called them to Himself. Jesus called the ones He wanted, and His call was a sovereign one, because everyone He called to that office came to that office, and they came willingly to join that band of men who were to be a part of whom He was.

In a sense, this is a microcosmic look at what Jesus does for the whole kingdom of God—He calls those whom He wants. The Greek word that is translated as “church” in the Bible is ekklesia. This word is made up of a prefix and a root. The prefix is ek or ex, which means “out of ” or “from.” The root word is a form of the verb kaleo, which means “to call.” Thus, ekklesia means “those who are the called-out ones.” Simply put, the invisible church, the true church, is composed of those who are called by God not only outwardly but inwardly by the Holy Spirit. When Jesus calls someone to discipleship, He is calling that person to Himself, to belong to Him, to follow Him, and to learn from Him and of Him.

It is true that the only faith by which a person can be justified is his own faith. No one can be justified by his spouse’s faith, his parents’ faith, his children’s faith, or anyone else’s faith. At the final judgment, everyone will stand before God alone, and judgment will be rendered based on what is in his heart alone.

However, every time Christ saves an individual, He places him in a group. There is a corporate dimension to the kingdom of God that we must not overlook. I spoke recently with a woman whose church has called a new pastor. She is not happy with the new pastor, so she has left the church. When I asked her what she is doing for worship, she replied that she watches religious programming on television on Sunday morning. The obvious problem with this is that she is not in church on Sunday morning. She is not with the people of God in corporate worship, in solemn assembly. The Christian life is a corporate thing, for Christ places His redeemed people in the church to learn together, grow together, serve together, and worship together.

Limericks that did not quite make publication…

BunnyRabbit01Mary had a little lamb, his feet were black as soot, and everywhere the lamby went, his sooty foot he put.

There was a young man called Fernando, who ate a big plate full of lego, his body went numb and he looked kind of glum, and realised that rhyming just wasn’t his thing.

There was a young lady from York, who fell in a drum with a cork, the policeman who found her was just about to ground her, when she banged out the theme from Star Wars (she had rhyming issues too).

There was a young lady from Swanich, who swallowed a piano from Dulwich – she has serious problems!

There was an old man from Skye, who had an aversion to Pie, he sat on his bed wearing trousers that were red, and then went downstairs and made himself a cup of tea, a ham sandwich with lettuce, with a sprinkle of pepper.

There was a young rodent named Stu, who was highly addicted to glue, he fell to his knees every time that he sneezed, and thankfully, that was the only side effect.