Your “decision” for Christ was ordained by God from eternity past. Do not try to figure it out because you cannot. Accept it by faith because the Bible tells us to. I sought the Lord for a long time in my life and did not find Him until He took the blinders off of my eyes. II Corinthians 4:4 “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Salvation is an act of God and His Word tells us that throughout. Enjoy the following devotional. Pastor Steve
When our children were small, I often prayed with them after we tucked them into bed. But before I prayed, I sometimes would sit on the edge of the bed and talk with them. I remember telling our daughter Libby, “If I could line up all the 4-year-old girls in the world, I would walk down the line looking for you. After going through the entire line, I would choose you to be my daughter.” That always put a big smile on Libby’s face because she knew she was special.
If that was a smile-worthy moment for her, think of the grace-filled fact that the Creator-God of the universe “from the beginning chose you for salvation” (2 Thess. 2:13). Before time began, He desired to make you His own. This is why Scripture often uses the picture of adoption to communicate the amazing reality that, through no merit or worthiness of our own, we have been chosen by Him.
This is stunning news! We are “beloved by the Lord” (v.13) and enjoy the benefits of being part of His family. This glorious truth should fill our lives with humility and gratitude. “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us . . . establish you in every good word and work” (vv.16-17).
I will be forever grateful that I am Your child,
Father, and that You love me! Teach me to remember
all the benefits of belonging to You, and may I
serve You faithfully as part of Your family.
It’s God’s choice to love you and to make you part of His family.
INSIGHT: In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he assured the believers that they were loved by God and chosen (1:4 niv). In today’s reading, Paul reiterates this by saying, “God from the beginning chose you for salvation” (v.13). That God “chooses” people is taught in Scripture (Deut. 7:6-8; Isa. 44:1-2; Rom. 8:28-33; 9:11; Eph. 1:4-6,11; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1-2). Although a person is “chosen” before the creation of the world (Eph. 1:4-5; 2 Tim. 1:9), this becomes evident in life when one believes in the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 2:13-14).
“God’s Elect” is a doctrine clearly taught in the scriptures. It is endorsed by Paul of Tarsus, Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther, John Calvin, George Whitfield, Charles Spurgeon, John MacArthur, and a host of others. Note how the ones who understand the reality of this doctrine are among the greatest theologians who have ever graced this globe. The following is a November entry from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening devotional, November 25:
“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.” Romans 9:15
In these words the Lord in the plainest manner claims the right to give or to withhold His mercy according to His own sovereign will. As the prerogative of life and death is vested in the monarch, so the Judge of all the earth has a right to spare or condemn the guilty, as may seem best in His sight. Men by their sins have forfeited all claim upon God; they deserve to perish for their sins—and if they all do so, they have no ground for complaint. If the Lord steps in to save any, He may do so if the ends of justice are not thwarted; but if He judges it best to leave the condemned to suffer the righteous sentence, none may arraign Him at their bar. Foolish and impudent are all those discourses about the rights of men to be all placed on the same footing; ignorant, if not worse, are those contentions against discriminating grace, which are but the rebellions of proud human nature against the crown and sceptre of Jehovah. When we are brought to see our own utter ruin and ill desert, and the justice of the divine verdict against sin, we no longer cavil at the truth that the Lord is not bound to save us; we do not murmur if He chooses to save others, as though He were doing us an injury, but feel that if He deigns to look upon us, it will be His own free act of undeserved goodness, for which we shall for ever bless His name.
How shall those who are the subjects of divine election sufficiently adore the grace of God? They have no room for boasting, for sovereignty most effectually excludes it. The Lord’s will alone is glorified, and the very notion of human merit is cast out to everlasting contempt. There is no more humbling doctrine in Scripture than that of election, none more promotive of gratitude, and, consequently, none more sanctifying. Believers should not be afraid of it, but adoringly rejoice in it.
—Morning and Evening
Many cringe when they confront such Biblical words and teaching such as “predestination, His chosen and election.” The early church addressed “our lady elect” in the first verse of II John. Spurgeon had no problem understanding God’s elect either. Praise God he was just foolish enough to believe in the pure unadulterated Word of God. Man tries to reason what he cannot reason and therefore lacks faith in the Word. For instance, it does not seem fair to me for the foreman to pay employees the same salary when they started in the afternoon as those who started in the morning, as Jesus expounds on the Lord’s justice in a parable. But it is right and just by default because God ordained it. Amen and amen.
October 28 Morning Verse
“I have chosen you out of the world.” John 15:19
Here is distinguishing grace and discriminating regard; for some are made the special objects of divine affection. Do not be afraid to dwell upon this high doctrine of election. When your mind is most heavy and depressed, you will find it to be a bottle of richest cordial. Those who doubt the doctrines of grace, or who cast them into the shade, miss the richest clusters of Eshcol; they lose the wines on the lees well refined, the fat things full of marrow. There is no balm in Gilead comparable to it. If the honey in Jonathan’s wood when but touched enlightened the eyes, this is honey which will enlighten your heart to love and learn the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Eat, and fear not a surfeit; live upon this choice dainty, and fear not that it will be too delicate a diet. Meat from the King’s table will hurt none of His courtiers. Desire to have your mind enlarged, that you may comprehend more and more the eternal, everlasting, discriminating love of God. When you have mounted as high as election, tarry on its sister mount, the covenant of grace. Covenant engagements are the munitions of stupendous rock behind which we lie entrenched; covenant engagements with the surety, Christ Jesus, are the quiet resting-places of trembling spirits.
“His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the raging flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
This still is all my strength and stay.”
If Jesus undertook to bring me to glory, and if the Father promised that He would give me to the Son to be a part of the infinite reward of the travail of His soul; then, my soul, till God Himself shall be unfaithful, till Jesus shall cease to be the truth, thou art safe. When David danced before the ark, he told Michal that election made him do so. Come, my soul, exult before the God of grace and leap for joy of heart.
Note how Spurgeon again defers to God Himself and His amazing grace for our salvation and Christian growth. If we are saved and serving with joy, it is ALL because of Him. Spurgeon correctly sees no good thing within himself. All credit for whatever we are goes to the Lord. The world often calls this teaching Calvinism but I call it the Bible. Spurgeon never quotes Calvin, he simply reads and interprets God’s Holy Word. Blessings, Pastor Steve
“My Beloved put in His hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for Him.” Song Of Solomon 5:4
Knocking was not enough, for my heart was too full of sleep, too cold and ungrateful to arise and open the door, but the touch of His effectual grace has made my soul bestir itself. Oh, the longsuffering of my Beloved, to tarry when He found Himself shut out, and me asleep upon the bed of sloth! Oh, the greatness of His patience, to knock and knock again, and to add His voice to His knockings, beseeching me to open to Him! How could I have refused Him! Base heart, blush and be confounded! But what greatest kindness of all is this, that He becomes His own porter and unbars the door Himself. Thrice blessed is the hand which condescends to lift the latch and turn the key. Now I see that nothing but my Lord’s own power can save such a naughty mass of wickedness as I am; ordinances fail, even the gospel has no effect upon me, till His hand is stretched out. Now, also, I perceive that His hand is good where all else is unsuccessful, He can open when nothing else will. Blessed be His name, I feel His gracious presence even now. Well may my bowels move for Him, when I think of all that He has suffered for me, and of my ungenerous return. I have allowed my affections to wander. I have set up rivals. I have grieved Him. Sweetest and dearest of all beloveds, I have treated Thee as an unfaithful wife treats her husband. Oh, my cruel sins, my cruel self. What can I do? Tears are a poor show of my repentance, my whole heart boils with indignation at myself. Wretch that I am, to treat my Lord, my All in All, my exceeding great joy, as though He were a stranger. Jesus, thou forgivest freely, but this is not enough, prevent my unfaithfulness in the future. Kiss away these tears, and then purge my heart and bind it with sevenfold cords to Thyself, never to wander more.
—Morning and Evening
“The exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead.” Ephesians 1:19,20
In the resurrection of Christ, as in our salvation, there was put forth nothing short of a divine power. What shall we say of those who think that conversion is wrought by the free will of man, and is due to his own betterness of disposition? When we shall see the dead rise from the grave by their own power, then may we expect to see ungodly sinners of their own free will turning to Christ. It is not the word preached, nor the word read in itself; all quickening power proceeds from the Holy Ghost. This power was irresistible. All the soldiers and the high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb; Death himself could not hold Jesus in his bonds: even thus irresistible is the power put forth in the believer when he is raised to newness of life. No sin, no corruption, no devils in hell nor sinners upon earth, can stay the hand of God’s grace when it intends to convert a man. If God omnipotently says, “Thou shalt,” man shall not say, “I will not.” Observe that the power which raised Christ from the dead was glorious. It reflected honour upon God and wrought dismay in the hosts of evil. So there is great glory to God in the conversion of every sinner. It was everlasting power. “Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him.” So we, being raised from the dead, go not back to our dead works nor to our old corruptions, but we live unto God. “Because He lives we live also.” “For we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God.” “Like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Lastly, in the text mark the union of the new life to Jesus. The same power which raised the Head works life in the members. What a blessing to be quickened together with Christ!
—Morning and Evening
The Protestant Reformers include the following four giants of the late middle ages: Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox and Ulrich Zwingli. Their understanding of soteriology (salvation) and theology in general was profound. One built upon where the other left off, as their beliefs were based upon the Bible alone (sola scriptura). Each had an expertise in different realms of theology. Luther is the key name that comes to mind in the Reformation as he expounded on justification by faith in Christ’s atoning blood alone as the ONLY means for salvation. Knox and Zwingli can be recognized as significant contributors of specific doctrine(s), and John Calvin was the theologian par excellence. Calvin is noted for writing the comprehensive Institutes of the Christian Religion that dons the desk of many who study the Bible carefully and seriously. In our day of a very superficial understanding of the scriptures, Calvin seems to be totally misunderstood much more often than not. John Calvin is often pitted against the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius, as we examine two different understandings of salvation. I always thought it was rather humerous to compare Calvin and Arminius, since one is a Reformation giant while the other is largely unknown in the early Protestant Church, and deemed by many at that time to be a heretic. Today, however, the shoe is on the other foot and we often hear the terms Calvinism or hyper Calvinism disparaged. Why is this? For one thing, hyper Calvinism is an exaggeration or distortion of the true teachings of Calvin and should NOT even be associated with his name. For another thing, when an anemic church age considers doctrine in our day of easy believism, the false becomes the accepted norm and the truth is quenched. This is exactly what the Bible warns us about. (Wrong will become right and right will become wrong). As a preacher of the Gospel, I find it hilarious that people will call me a Calvinist when I do nothing more than quote certain scriptures such as: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” “No man cometh to the Father except the Holy Spirit quicken him.” “You have not chosen me but I have chosen you.” “I loved Jacob and hated Easu.” And the list goes on and on throughout the entire Bible…… If you want to send those into a hissy fit who believe that salvation is no more than a mere choice that we decide to make on our own, then expound on the apostle Paul’s road to Damascus experience and his “decision” for Christ, or better yet, tell them of your own testimony of salvation! Yes, humanly speaking we do indeed make a choice, but not until God initiates it through taking the blinders off of our eyes. (Jonah 2:9; II Corinthians 4:4) Any mere mention of the words predestined, chosen, or elect, all replete in all of the Pauline epistles as well as those of John (“Our lady elect” in II John) and Peter, will give any speaker the reputation of being Calvinistic and send a lot of folks into a frenzy. I wonder if these misguided individuals have ever considered the fact that it is “they” who do not believe in the Bible. John Calvin wrote absolutely NOTHING in the Word of God. It was all written by men who without exception were prophets and apostles and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 2:20, II Timothy 3:16-17) We will find in future editions of this theme, that it is the Word of God that people are opposed to moreso than they are against Calvinism.
Maranatha, Pastor Steve
The famous Charles Haddon Spurgeon of Victorian England was known as a Baptist Calvinist and invited speakers to his home church, the London Metropolitan Tabernacle, who were in unison with his understanding of the Word of God. For instance he invited the reknown American evangelist Dwight L. Moody but he did not invite Charles Finney. Charles Finney was a central figure in the spread of the Gospel in New York state but the effects of this movement expired after a generation. Finney was one who placed salvation on the shoulders of man himself moreso than upon the sovereignty of God. Another famous leader of the Arminian persuasion was John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church. It is interesting to note that their current theology in many but not all churches in their denomination is steering away from the Bible.
It must be mentioned that Calvin’s teachings from the Bible were largely accepted in Christian Europe of the Reformation era, Victorian England and in Colonial America. When the banner of the Christian faith flew the highest, so did the believers’ understanding of the scriptures.
Pastor and author John MacArthur who submits to most of the teachings of Calvin himself, mentions a key reason why many refuse much of this doctrine today.
“There are many doctrines in the Bible that we cannot fully comprehend. We cannot fully fathom a Triune God or the Trinity. Neither can we fully understand a universe that seemingly continues forever. Nor can we understand why God chooses some for salvation and rejects others. This truth, however, is replete throughout the Word of God. We do not question the truth of the Trinity or an infinite universe even though we do not understand them. Why is God’s sovereignty, however, challenged in reference to His plan of salvation? It is because it takes the CONTROL for mankind’s eternal destiny away from him and places him helplessly at the mercy of God. Man does not like this and wants to make this choice on his own terms and when it is convenient. i.e. He desires to be his own saving agent in reference to his eternal destiny.” [John MacArthur does not desire to be called a Calvinist at all, since he rightly believes that he is ultimately submitting to the Word of God and not to a man and his teachings. John just happens to believe, however, that Calvin correctly understands the Bible in most doctrines].
When one understands that the sovereign God of the universe alone holds the keys to salvation, it takes all of the pressure off of the believer and gives us an utter dependence upon God for our salvation. It also gives us an understanding that we cannot “win souls to Christ,” as I have heard people tell me they have done for years. We depend upon God to touch their hearts as ONLY HE can do! A born again Christian is simply a conduit through whom God (the Holy Spirit) works. You and I are not big enough to save a soul!
In our final forthcoming study in this three part series, we will examine Martin Luther’s most famous book and greatest work called “Bondage of the Will,” whereby the famous reformer and theologian correctly states that fallen man, left to his own desires and without the intervention of God, does not have the ability to choose the correct path and remove his depravity from his sin sick soul. Man does not even have the will or desire to do this.
In Christ, Pastor Steve
We would indeed be remiss if Calvin’s famous TULIP were not mentioned:
Perseverance of the saints
Our focus will be primarily on “Total Depravity,” since an understanding of this doctrine will usually allow other related teachings to become more clear. There is absolutely no possible way that mankind can choose the right way on his own because of his sinful nature. In my morning devotions I ran across this truth once again: I Thessalonians 1:4 …”Knowing brethren beloved, your election of God.” God’s choices for salvation are according to His perfect, holy, and sovereign will. This is a mystery to man. In regards to my personal salvation, God took the blinders from my eyes (II Corinthians 4:4), and for the first time in my life I could see my depravity at the age of 27, and my need to have my sins covered through the blood of Jesus Christ. This was an act of God Almighty that I had absolutely nothing to do with. The truth be known that due to my depravity, if it were up to me, I would still be running!
The aforementioned theme of today’s entry leads us to Martin Luther’s book: The Bondage Of The Will. Luther is a product of Catholic Europe/Germany during the late middle ages. He tried very hard to be good and to perform his duties to perfection as a Catholic priest and monk. The harder that Martin Luther tried to be good, the more he recognized his own depravity and he felt entirely helpless! These extremely difficult circumstances were used by God in his life to lead him to an excellent understanding of the key docrine of salvation known as “justification by faith.” Martin Luther read Romans 1:17B …”The just shall
live by faith,” and that turned out to be the harbinger of the Protestant Reformation.
Free will was no academic question to Luther; the whole gospel of the grace of God, he believed, was bound up with it and stood or fell according to the way one decided it. Luther affirms our total inability to save ourselves and the sovereignty of divine grace in our salvation. He upholds the doctrine of justification by faith and defends predestination as determined by the foreknowledge of God. This correct teaching from the Bible humbles man, strengthens faith, and glorifies God. Luther states that anything that man does in regards to his salvation, is simply reacting to what God already worked in him. Following are key scriptures that elucidate on this very
Romans 3:10-12 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” vs.23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” As I read this passage alone, I wonder how do people examine the scriptures and come up with names like “Free will Baptist Church?”
Philippians 1:29 “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.”
Romans 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
Malachi 1:2-3 “I have loved you, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the Lord: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.”
The Potter and the Clay Isaiah 45:9 “Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?” Jeremiah 18:6 “Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in Mine hand.”
Genesis 8:21B “for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth…”
Genesis 6:5 “And God saw that the wickedness of man was ever great in the earth, and that EVERY IMAGINATION of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”
The impotence of man is described in Jeremiah 10:23 “O Lord, I know that the way of man is NOT IN HIMSELF: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”
John 15:5 “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Romans 8:5 “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” We must be in the Spirit in order to understand and follow God. We cannot choose ourselves to be in the Spirit until we are saved and the Holy Spirit reveals Himself to us. The Bible tells us that “the carnal man cannot even understand the things of God for they are foolishness unto him.”
Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” In this passage, does Jesus not witness that they were unable to do good? For how can you will that which you do not know? Only a sovereign act of God will allow man to see himself as God sees him—-a depraved creature who has no ability to please the Lord on his own merits. John 3:3 “…ye must be born again…” The new birth is the miraculous act of salvation that is bestowed upon fallen man. It is totally undeserved, unearned and unmerited, and given to some entirely through the grace and mercy of God.
How do we succinctly sum up this study?
Salvation is something that sinful man is totally incapable of choosing on his own, or even understanding. He can escape his depraved condition only through an act of God’s mercy as he cries out to the Lord in repentance. Jonah 2:9B “Salvation is of the Lord.”