grace

“Till There Was No Remedy”

Moreover all the leaders of the priests and the people transgressed more and more, according to all the abominations of the nations, and defiled the house of the Lord which He had consecrated in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.” (2 Chronicles 36:14-16)

A sad picture is painted here of the southern kingdom of Judah. A picture painted with the dark colors of sin, rebellion and hard hearts.

The above words are so clear and poignant that too much commentary would do it an injustice. It reveals an ancient principle to our modern-day hearts – a principle of God that distinguishes between longsuffering and being made a mockery of as Lord.

Almighty God dealt with His people in a way that would have stirred up penitence in anyone’s heart that was capable of it. And while God would not force penitence upon His people He would not allow them to represent Him with their lifestyles unendingly.

Accordingly, the Great Physician of the soul (Luke 5:31-32) deals with His people in a way that should cause our heart to move with a penitent attitude when our sin is revealed by His word (Hebrews 4:12). He is longsuffering but He will not be made a mockery of as Lord (Luke 6:46; 1 Corinthians 10:14-22; Revelation 2:18-23).

We must strive to avoid painting the same dark picture of sin, rebellion and hard hearts that Judah painted so long ago. Let us not refuse the remedy offered that produces healing. God deals kindly with soft hearts (Psalm 34:18; 51:17), but this God also has His limits (Exodus 7:10-13; 8:15, 32; 9:34). If we refuse to be worked on, we will be worked out! The same sun that can melt the wax can also harden the clay.

The Lord worked on His people “till there was no remedy” and there was no remedy to be given because there was no remedy they would take! So let’s make sure we take our remedy today before our remedy gets taken back tomorrow (Hebrews 3). EA

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Calvinism’s “Unconditional” Loses Election, Part 3 – Your Vote Counts

Election, election, election – it’s not just for presidents! Election is for God’s people…people who come to God by faith through Jesus. This form of election is created by God, but we must choose to participate in it. No one elects God to the throne! His government is a monarchy, but we choose whether or not we’ll join His kingdom. The ticket will not change: it’s Heaven or it’s Hell for every sinner, and we can choose Heaven! That is the wonder and grace of the gospel!

But this isn’t enough for some! For some, well, they want the choice made for them. They want their election to be “unconditional.” Not only do they want salvation to be unconditional – they want damnation to be the same! After all, how can one be “unconditional” without the other being the same??? If one person has his or her ticket punched for them then all must follow the ‘party’ line.

The fact is that when it comes to God’s election, a person must choose which ‘party’ they’re going to be a member of; but a person may ask about the people in Romans 9? Doesn’t this chapter prove God chooses people according to whatever His desire is and not according to what a person chooses to do in response to God’s desire?

Good question! Think about the people in Romans 9. How did they choose to react to God’s calling? From Genesis to Revelation a person can read about God’s plan to bring a Messiah into the world to save people from our sins, and from Romans 1 to Romans 11 Paul is saying that God had a right to extend His grace to the gentiles and a right to reject Israel because of their treatment of His election that comes through faith in Jesus. Look at how Paul ends Romans 9:30-33. He ends it by saying that very thing! Israel lost their election because they stumbled at (meaning chose to reject) that elect rock of God’s people – Jesus!

Romans 9:7 mentions Abraham. Why does Paul begin with Abraham? Why did God choose to use Abraham? Because God foreknew him! Genesis 18:19 says:

For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”

Through Abraham the whole world was going to be blessed through One seed – who was that seed? It was Jesus (Galatians 3:16). And through Abraham’s promised son, Isaac, the promise would continue to be brought to fruition.

Romans 9:10-13 mentions Jacob and Esau. Why? Because when it comes to Isaac the Jews could say, “Isaac deserved to be counted in God’s elect and not Ishmael because Isaac was the promised child.” But in the situation of Esau (the older brother) and Jacob (the younger brother) the elder child would have his “promise of inheritance” pulled out from under his feet. And to make this even more interesting, before either of the children were ever born God chose who He was going to use to bring his purpose (salvation from sin) into the world! God predestinated Jacob to be used to bring God’s elect into the world because He foreknew him. And listen to this, God predestinated the service of Jacob, but nowhere does it say He predestinated the salvation of Jacob. Jacob didn’t “earn” anything, but he would answer the call that Esau rejected and traded for a bowl of beans!!! Don’t think so? Then read this:

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” (Hebrews 12:14-16) (more…)

The Blame Game

We’ve all played it before. If you grew up with a sibling you probably played it a lot.

Sometimes we “won,” sometimes we “lost” – but at no time did any excuse or reason we gave change the responsibility.

Taking credit when things go right is easy; taking credit when things go wrong takes maturity.

There are times when an honest admission of guilt is enough to take care of the consequences. There are times when a denial of guilt worsens the consequences.

The fear of consequences can compel a person to take his or her shot at playing the blame game, but spiritually speaking, we will all lose the blame game every time.

God is looking for people to admit the wrong before we can be right with Him. EA

for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

“…“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”” (James 4:6)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

Calvinism’s “Unconditional” Loses Election, Part 2 – Biblical Election by Faith Wins!

The concept of election is a biblically true and wonderful concept. The woeful concept of Calvinism’s “Unconditional Election” is biblically false. Calvinism takes biblical predestination which means God had a plan to pay the price of man’s sin from the beginning, and turns it into God buying everyone a one way plane ticket with no chance of cancelling the destination. According to Calvinism’s “unconditional election,” once you get on the plane…make that, once you’re forced onto the plane headed toward Heaven or Hell there’s no way off because your ticket is already punched!

Calvinism takes predestination through and turns it into predestination to. It has God throwing people into prison, throwing away the key and then saying we’ll be punished if we can’t get out!

Without a doubt, throughout Bible history, God chose to use certain individuals and nations over others – but the question is why did God choose to use them? Is it because God indiscriminately predestined some individuals to salvation and others to condemnation regardless of individual reaction like Calvinism teaches or is it because God knew exactly how those individuals would respond to His call?

Scripturally speaking the answer to this is clear! Doctrinally speaking, Calvinism muddies the water.

Where Calvinism falls short in its understanding is seen in the fact that God knowing what everyone will choose to do in their own heart when it comes to His commands is not the same as God making (irresistibly forcing) them do it.

Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’” Isaiah 46:9-10

As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.1 Chronicles 28:9

Combine the clear language of God’s attributes from these two verses and what we get is God’s ability to make His will come to pass, not by overriding the free will of men and women, but by using that free will in our hearts to make His plans complete.

With this biblical principle firmly established we can now objectively look at one of the most, if not the most, “controversial” books in the Bible when it comes to predestination and whether God simply chooses His elect’s salvation for them based on nothing they have done or on something they will do.

In Romans 8:28-30 Paul says the avenue to Heaven has been predestined, but those who walk in it must decide for themselves! It’s all about the gospel of Jesus Christ and what we as individuals choose to do with it.

Now, what is the purpose Paul mentions in verse 28? The purpose is salvation in Jesus! This is the same purpose Paul mentions in 2 Timothy 1:9: “who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,.

Verse 29 follows up by saying God foreknew individuals, not for-chose!!! The verse does not say ‘those He predestinated He predestinated’ does it? Why not? Because the truth of Biblical election revolves around God foreknowing those who would be His elect by their willingness to conform to the image of Jesus. (more…)

Calvinism’s “Unconditional” Loses Election

Despite what some in the religious world thinks or teaches, there are doctrines that are false and dangerous and Calvinism is one of them. Calvinism fundamentally changes the way one must view the entire gospel of Jesus Christ from beginning to end. It changes the meaning of why Jesus had to die, it changes the meaning of what the cross stands for and it changes the invitation to man given by God!

Calvinism begins with Total Hereditary Depravity. It teaches that people are born completely wicked and so spiritually depraved and separated from God that we deserve hell the moment we’re born. Other than the obvious, another result of the doctrine teaches that we can’t do anything good spiritually or choose to love God and come to him in faith. So how can a person ever be saved if there’s no way that we can choose to do good, choose to believe or choose to come to God? What’s the solution???

The solution to that situation (according the Calvinism), whether we’re lost or saved, is that when it comes to salvation the decision has already been made for us and there’s nothing anyone can do about it! From that point on, the unconditionally conditional doctrine of Calvinism’s Unconditional Election walks in the door as a welcome or unwelcome guest; it all depends on what position you find yourself placed in spiritually.

When you get past all the “pleasant talk” Unconditional Election says that God doesn’t ask a sinner to do anything when it comes to responding to his offer of salvation through grace. This goes for both salvation and damnation! The real issue with unconditional election isn’t whether or not God has an elect people (because he does), it’s whether or not that election is unconditional.

There’s an inconvenient flip-side to Unconditional Election that’s not very logical much less scriptural. If a person is unconditionally chosen for salvation by no choice of their own, then the flip-side is that another person is unconditionally chosen for damnation by no choice of their own. To put it more plainly – the flip-side of being unconditionally elected is being unconditionally rejected!!!

Unconditional Election destroys the fundamental foundation of the gospel that says “whosoever believes should not perish” in John 3:16. Calvinism says “whosoever” doesn’t mean “whosoever” because “whosoever” means a choice; and unconditional election gives a person no choice when it comes to salvation or condemnation!!! The doctrine of Unconditional Election says “wait, we do have a choice – the choice we made when Adam sinned.” Talk about being disingenuous with words! What kind of choice is choice if it’s chosen for us?

A huge question is: If a person is unconditionally elected or unconditionally rejected without any consideration for personal response or responsibility then why did Jesus act a like a person is personally responsible? Think about it for a minute… (more…)

Why did God Require Animals to be Sacrificed?

There are times in the Bible when a person can miss the blessing of something because they don’t understand the purpose or point of God’s command. This is especially true when it comes to understanding why God had people do certain things in regards to their sin. 

Many Christians today take for granted what God was trying to teach his people under the Old Testament. Some look at the Old Testament as old, and unworthy of study or care; but if a person misses why God had his people do certain things under the Old Covenant, they’ll never come to a fuller appreciation of what God has accomplished for us under the New Covenant of today! And there are very few places where this is more true than when it comes to the animal sacrifices found from Genesis to Malachi and right on into the gospels we read.

Let’s think about why God required what he required under the Old Testament, and how it can better help us understand the sacrifice that Jesus made on behalf of humanity when he established the New Covenant.

So the first question is, “Why did God have animals sacrificed?” If we’re not required to sacrifice them anymore, why were they ever sacrificed to begin with??? If God was going to send Jesus all along, then why didn’t he have people just say they were sorry and then forgive them when Jesus died? Why did God have people do something when it seems like it was useless in dealing with sin? Did God even care whether or not someone sacrificed an animal? If He did, then why did he say he didn’t sometimes? These are some of the issues and questions a person can have when they read about these things in the Old Testament and New Testament.
So did God really ask for, require and even command animal sacrifices? Contrary to what some try to teach, he sure did! When Adam and Eve sinned and they made fig-leaf bikinis, and God said that wouldn’t do, what did He give them? He gave them clothes to wear! Now, you don’t have to be a tanner to know that you can’t get an animal-hide outfit to wear without the animal losing its life. Right from the get go with sin, a sacrifice was made. From the garden, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses and all throughout the history of the children of Israel you will find God requiring the sacrifice of animals for sin. There’s even a book called Leviticus that deals with the intricacies of how to properly deal with the sacrificing of burnt offerings, peace offerings, guilt offerings and sin offerings that God commanded.

But if God required the sacrifice of animals then why did he at times say he didn’t want them??? I mean there are multiple places in the Old Testament where God plainly says, “NO!!!” Read them for yourselves:

  • To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats.” Isaiah 1:11
  • For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6 (quoted by Jesus in Matthew 9:13, 12:7)
  • For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.” Psalm 51:16

As if that’s not enough, the New Testament says this about sacrificing animals as well:

  • But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.Hebrews 10:3-4

If this is true then what was the whole point of it all? The point has to do with the context that all these verses are given in. There was, and still is, a big lesson about sin and the human heart behind all that sacrificing that God called for! The majority of the time, God’s people in the past, like His people of today, were missing the whole point of worship, sacrifice and sin.

When blood gets spilt – God takes notice! He noticed Abel’s blood (Genesis 4:10). He warns all men to take notice (Genesis 9:6). Judgment was pronounced upon the scribes and Pharisees because of bloodshed (Matthew 23:34-35). Even when an animal dies, God takes notice (Matthew 10:29b). When an animal was killed or sacrificed, God commanded that the utmost respect be shown toward the blood (Leviticus 17).

Why does God take notice of every drop of blood that gets spilt? Because life is in the blood: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul’” (Leviticus 17:11). God called for the blood sacrifice of animals because He was teaching His people about the cost of sin. (more…)

How Great is the Depth of God’s Grace!

The Mariana Trench, which is over 36,200 feet deep and as low as you can get on the surface of the Earth, has nothing on the grace of God. From time to time at Keltonburg we sing the song “His Grace Reaches Me” by Whitey Leason. The first stanza contains the comforting words, “Deeper than the ocean and wider than the sea, is the grace of the Savior for sinners like me….

When it comes to sin there is not a depth too deep that can keep God’s grace from being near when we desire it. The Psalmist described the power of God at the Red Sea by saying that, “The waters saw You, O God; The waters saw You, they were afraid; The depths also trembled.” (Psalm 77:16) Moses shouted to the people …Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will show to you today…” (Exodus 14:13). The people were in need of deliverance – they were in need of God’s grace. They got both and we can too. (more…)