Thursday, April 29, 2010

Salvation by Election or by Grace?

The reason that so many people believe in doctrines that are untrue is there is an enormous void of Bible reading among ‘Believers’. Those who are strident Followers of Christ read and know what God’s Word teaches.

The subjects of Election and Free Will are possibly among the most studied topics in the organized church. However, I am certain that the Church, the Body of Christ, is made up of individual Believers, Christians, who have been born again by the blood of Jesus Christ as they were drawn by the Holy Spirit. The Bible clearly teaches that Salvation by Faith in Jesus Christ has been predestined by the Father, but not everyone will come to acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord. And the underscore should be drawn under 2 Peter 3:9 as a place of beginning.

But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.“ 2 Peter 3:7-9.

Many well meaning folks, including John Calvin, Martin Luther and many very well known individuals within the Church define salvation as an event in the life of elect that is predestined only for a very select group. I would go so far to say that these mislead folks follow systems of human thought rather than the Savior who died on a Cross.

God’s Word tells us that He is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” This does not imply nor suggest nor declare that a few lucky winners will go to Heaven…….This does tell us that the Cross Event is indeed for everyone who believes and Jesus himself is speaks His Truth when he speaks to Nicodemus,

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:16-18.

This does not sound as if the Christ had any one particular group of people in mind when He states, “whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” However, I am convinced that if Predestination had been the issue Jesus would have said as much.

God’s Grace in Salvation History…..

Furthermore, the Hebrew Nation in the Old Testament and the Bride of Christ, His Church, are the elect of God. And both groups will have found their peculiar spots in Heaven when Christ returns. The Salvation History of Scripture is about these two groups, not about individuals. Christ will come again to receive unto Himself His Church. He will not return specifically for me, but rather for His Church.

Those who park in the Predestination Space declare that salvation is nothing more than God’s choosing and freedom to reject has no place there. There are others holding to the other side of the Standard that it is all man’s free will and choice rather than God’s ability to secure what has been done. The reality is that Salvation is mostly God’s doing and by His grace and humankind must respond to His Grace. However, God does know who will respond why He knows who His people are BEFOREHAND.

“Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.” John 10:25-29.

Those who decide to follow the Christ will be saved. They were even more astonished and said to Him, "Then who can be saved?" Looking at them, Jesus said, "With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God." Peter began to say to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You." Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last, first." Mark 10:26-31.

There is absolutely no hint of Predestination for those who are being saved, but we do find that the freedom of man to follow Him is obvious.

Election in Salvation History:

Matthew 22:14,24: 22, 24, 31

Mark 13:20,22,25

Luke 18:7; Ro. 8:33; Col 3:12

2 Timothy 2:10; Ti. 1:1

1 Peter 1:1

There are but 16 verses in the New Testament which give testimony to ‘Election’ for salvation; not so many as most might think. The reason that so many people believe in doctrines that are untrue is there is an obvious void of Bible reading among local church members. Those who are strident followers of Christ read and know what God’s Word teaches.

In search of the meaning of God’s grace in election, there are several Scriptures that must be entertained:

Careful examination of this word from Paul to Titus reveals that God does not lie and in His time His word was revealed. This is an obvious reference to His Son.

“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— a faith and knowledgeresting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.” Titus 1:1

Be reminded that Paul is writing to the Church in Rome as he speaks about about predestination, glorification, justification and glorification of those who are Believers.

"And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies" Romans 30-33.

"For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.“ Matthew 24:22.
God does have an Elect people. Does election surface when folks believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, or were they chosen for salvation beforehand?

The Apostle Peter writes, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:1-5.

It is not so difficult to see that obedience to Christ, His cleansing blood and His sanctification comes through the resurrection of Christ. God knows who will become followers of His Son Jesus Christ. Why should this be so difficult to accept or to some, abhorrent, unless Predestination is involved.

Prophetic utterances are given hundreds of years beforehand that tell us of God’s obvious foreknowledge. Judas’ betrayal of the Christ is, perhaps the most infamous of all. God is omniscient….that is, He knows all things before time.

Isaiah writes, You have not heard, you have not known even from long ago your ear has not been open, because I knew that you would deal very treacherously; And you have been called a rebel from birth. "For the sake of My name I delay My wrath, and for My praise I restrain it for you, in order not to cut you off." Isaiah 48:8.

The Prophet is speaking to the House of Jacob and their lack of obedience toward God. And, yes, this House has rebelled from Jacob’s spirit of rebellion.

“But I said, "I have toiled in vain, I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity; Yet surely the justice due to Me is with the LORD, and My reward with My God." And now says the LORD, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and My God is My strength), He says, "It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Jeremiah 49:4-6.

The foreknowledge of God cannot be denied. Paul further explains to the Church in Rome, “And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls" Romans 9:10-11.

“Jesus answered and said to them, "Do not grumble among yourselves. "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. "It is written in the prophets, 'AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” John 6:43-45.

"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father." John 6:63-65.

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you”. John 15:13-16.

Do we forget that Jesus walked along the shores of Galilee calling men to follow Him and others he sought from their businesses and other walks of life Yes, Jesus Chooses and seeks His Followers to bring forth effective fruit.

It is of utmost urgency that we understand that by simply repeating a “sinners prayer” is erroneous unless God the Father has drawn them, opened their spiritual eyes and given them a revelation of Christ that they might repent and be born-again. Anything different is merely a “Hallelujah Moment,” a religious experience.

John again reminds us that Jesus came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:11-13.

This is NOT a statement supporting Predestination, but rather a statement explaining that man cannot save himself…..but is fully the work of Jesus at the Cross Event.

According to the Bible, salvation is specifically and only by the will and grace of God. As many as received him, received him because they had their minds opened to see the truth of Christ and were given the power by the Holy Spirit to become sons of God by believing on His name, which in other scripture means they did something with what they were given by God for to believe means to act on that which you believe. They were given the faith to believe and they acted on that faith and repented of their sin and received Jesus as their LORD and SAVIOR, for if He is not LORD then HE is not SAVIOR.

“But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"--that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED." Romans 10:8-11.

Believers are empowered by the Spirit of God to believe on Jesus’ name to be born again, not by works of man, but by His Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit to open the heart of sinful man, to convict him of his sin, repentance, and to be saved is not spoken of in Scripture as being predestined from God. However, we must understand that the ability and desire to respond to the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ and His finished work at Calvary only comes through the Presence of God.

While speaking to Nicodemus, Jesus emphasizes to him in John 3:3, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." People cannot respond to salvation in Christ unless the Holy Spirit convicts of sin.

Paul writes in Romans 2:4 , “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:”

We do not choose repentance, but rather, it is the Holy Spirit who leads the lost to repentance and further to salvation. He calls us while we are dead in our sin.

The Apostle Paul goes on to say to the Church at Ephesus, " But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."  Ephesians 2:4-7 .

It is not us, but He. He does it all. He draws us. He convicts us. He opens our eyes to see the truth and it is He who gives us the faith to believe. The Holy Spirit works in us and salvation comes by His grace and mercy, and through our faith. We must accept His offer and by the faith that comes from Him we are then saved.

We must not discount the following:

• Not all are called because NOT everyone is of the Faith
• Not all accept the call because only those who follow Him will receive the Call
• Not all remain His followers because they did not follow Him

“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”         1 John 2:19.

Moses writes, "All the nations will say, 'Why has the LORD done thus to this land? Why this great outburst of anger?' Then men will say, 'Because they forsook the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they have not known and whom He had not allotted to them. Therefore, the anger of the LORD burned against that land, to bring upon it every curse which is written in this book; and the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger and in fury and in great wrath, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.'” Deuteronomy 29:24-28.

Verse 29 then reveals, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.”

This is Food for Thought, is it not?

Jesus remains Lord

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