The Light Shines In The Darkness

"And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." (Jn. 1:5)

"The light shines" is in simple present tense; the darkness did not comprehend it is in past tense (in Greek, aorist). This is a testimony about Jesus Christ.

1. It points to the eternality of Christ, the light, who always shines, has always shone, and will always shine. There is no shadow of turning in Him. Yesterday and tomorrow are as today for Him. Therefore, His voice through the Spirit is always in the today.

2. It points to the defeat point of darkness as in the past. There is no present or future possibility left for darkness. The Scripture does not say " The darkness will not comprehend"; it says that it did not comprehend. In other words, the defeat of darkness is a finished fact. Christians must rest assured that it is impossible for darkness to ever gain the upper hand. Its defeat is over forever.

3. It points to the fact that those who love darkness can never come to the light. In order to walk in light, we must first long for the light.

"And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." (Phil. 3:19-21)

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Glory of the Son in Us

Christ is the brightness of God's glory (Heb. 1:3). God's glory is incomparable with anything in creation.

"...the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.  There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory." (1Cor. 15:39)

Christ's glory far exceeds anything in creation. That Infinitely glorious one emptied Himself of holding on to that glorious form alone and took the form of man 2000 years ago.

"Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being." (Phil. 2:6-7, NLT)

"So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father's one and only Son." (John 1:14)
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And that's not all.

The glory of the Son shines in our hearts through the Gospel.

"For God, who said, "Let there be light in the darkness," has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ." (2Cor.4:6, NLT)

We are transformed into that same image as we read God's Word.

"But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ....

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2Cor. 3:14,18)

And when He returns, He will transform our mortal bodies into the likeness of His glorious body.

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself." (Phil. 3:20,21)

We look towards that glory.

"The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Rom. 8:15-21)

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Imprisonment and the Law of Moses

The Romans were the first who used imprisonment as a form of punishment, rather than mere detention. The Law of Moses didn't prescribe jailing as a form of punishment. The Cities of Refuge were places of protection for those who accidentally killed someone. OT Law was based on the "tooth for tooth" principle of justice (not the "stone for brick" one). The closest form of imprisonment (when fines or debt became unpayable) was slavery. But, it had the limit of 6 years; the slave had be set free in the 7th year and also given means of survival. The goal was that the slave could pay back in service what he couldn't in cash or goods. Also, there were laws to protect the slaves against oppression. However, the Law didn't have mercy on those who violated the Law through acts of murder, rape, violence, theft, and so on. The Judge had to pronounce judgement on the basis of the Law. Debts could be forgiven; violation of the Law (the Decalogue), never.



Genesis tells of Joseph being put in Egyptian prison. However, historians agree that the Egyptians didn't use prisons as a punitive measure but only as places of detention or remand.
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Spirit-filled Preaching

The No.1 qualification of being a Spirit-filled Preacher is not to have a degree from a "great" University or have the recognition of a "great" movement; but, it is to be Spirit-filled and totally in tune with the work of the Holy Spirit in the world today.

SPIRIT-FILLED PREACHING
1. Convicts the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment
"And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." (Joh 16:8 NKJ)

Spirit-filled preaching will not speak about grace without first convicting the world of sin; it will not talk about divine blessings without first demonstrating the righteousness of God; it will not talk of eternal life without first warning the world of judgment.

2. Will guide the listeners into all truth
"When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth" (Joh 16:13 NKJ)

Spirit-filled preaching doesn't ignore some truths and highlight others; it is not customer-oriented, but is Spirit-mandated.

3. Is not self-originated but originates in the Father and the Son
"He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak....
He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you." (Joh 16:13-15 NKJ)

Spirit-filled preaching is not based on self-imagination, personal interpretation, or opinions of men. Unless the man of God has listened the voice of the Spirit, he cannot speak the words of the Spirit.

Spirit-filled preaching does not abound in quotations of humans, as if indicating the superiority of their authority. The Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit and is self-sufficient and totally effective and sufficient in convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Heb 4:12 NKJ)

4. Tells things to come
"He will tell you things to come." (Joh 16:13 NKJ)

Spirit-filled preaching has an eschatological focus. The Holy Spirit is the unveiler of God's Plan for the Ages.

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Rev 2:7 NKJ)

He was there when the Ages began:
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Gen 1:2 NKJ)
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth. (Psa 104:30 NKJ)

He foretold the First Coming of Christ and bears witness of the Second Coming:
"for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2Pe 1:21 NKJ)
"the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Rev 19:10 NKJ)
"Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow." (1Pe 1:10-11 NKJ)

5. Glorifies Christ
"He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you." (Joh 16:14 NKJ)

Spirit-filled preaching glorifies Christ. It doesn't exalt any man, culture, organization, or human ideal. It isn't afraid of humans nor seeks to please any man. It is not boastful of self or its accomplishments. The chief end of Spirit-filled preaching is to glorify Christ.

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Praying for Good Things


"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matt. 7:11)

Good Things..
1. Are not things of lust/covetousness
James 4:3 - evil desire.  Therefore, they ask but don't receive .
Israel lusted after evil things 2Cor. 10:6
2. Are not things of compromise
Num. 22:12,19- Balaam wanted to go, though God forbade. He began double checking to see if God would change mind. Jude 1:11
3. Are not things of despair, anger, and frustration
1Kgs.19:4-5 Elijah wanted to die, but God answered in the opposite
Jonah 4:8-9 Jonah wanted to die out of anger, but God reproved him
4. Are not things against God's nature
Exo. 32:32,33 Moses wanted to die instead of israel.. But, God is not unjust

Examples of What We Must Pray For
1. Holy Spirit .. Not just gifts but the Person (Lk. 11:13)
2. Wisdom..  (James 1:5; 1Kgs. 3:6-9)
3. Grace in time of need (Heb. 4:16)
4. Boldness of speech (Acts 4:29)
5. That you may not fall in temptation (Mk. 14:28; Lk. 21:36)
6. Healing... (Jas 5:14)
7. Divine health.. (3Jn. 1:2)
8. Protection,  deliverance 2Thess. 3:1-2)

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Examples of Biblical Propositions or Implications That Challenge Science

1. God created the world out of nothing.
This contradicts the scientific assumptions that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, and that something cannot come out of nothing. The Bible is unique in its proclamation of creatio ex nihilo.  Even quantum physics based theories of the universe presuppose something preexisting, at least the quantum laws.

The biblical doctrine sets apart God as transcendent, infinite, immutable, and one.

2. The material world is not the only reality.
While certain psychical societies have been investigating this claim, science in general cannot include the supernatural into its equations, obviously. Anything beyond the material is beyond science. Science cannot base predictions on anything apart of realities that submit to laws of nature, as it knows.

However, Bible believers can identify and predict many things that relate to the non-material world. These include events that involve angels, prophecies, faith, and cases of demonic activities.

3. All have sinned
Science can recognize natural laws or laws of nature but cannot establish moral law. Some psychologists concluded that the moral law and the human conscience were products of human societies and relative to them, not absolute in themselves.

However, the Bible clearly declares humans as being in rebellion against God.

4. Resurrection and Salvation
Obviously, this the offence of science that Christ resurrected from the dead and there will be a resurrection of those who die in Christ (the living will be transformed).

For, believers this keeps them from the eat-drink-and-be-merry-for-tomorrow-you-die kind of hedonistic attitude towards life. This gives them a hope for the future and a reason to be altruistic and live a just and righteous life.

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Dr. Kurien Thomas: God's Trailblazer in India and Around the World

DR. KURIEN THOMAS (1922-2000) was a pioneer of the Pentecostal movement in central India. He came to Itarsi, the heart of India, in 1945 and laid the foundation of the Pentecostal Church there. In 1962, he began the Bharosa Bible School which grew on to be known today as Central India Theological Seminary. In 1967, he became the first Chairman of the Fellowship of the Pentecostal Churches in India. Dr. Thomas was a prolific writer in Hindi, English, and Malayalam. He was editor of Satyadoot, a continuing Hindi Christian monthly, and was author of several books. Kurien Thomas: God’s Trailblazer in India and Around the World, written in 1986, was his autobiography.

Kurien Thomas was born on 9 January 1922 at Ranny, Kerala, into a Keralite Syrian Orthodox family that traced its origins to the first converts of Thomas the apostle of Christ. In 1939, during a gospel meeting in his village in Kerala in which the renowned Pastor K.E. Abraham ministered, Kurien gave his life to Jesus. Hungry for God’s Word, he joined the Hebron Bible School at Kumbanad with the assistance of Pastor Abraham. At that time, Kurien was not fully committed to ministry, and since the School didn’t allow such students to live in the hostel, he along with some ten other friends arranged to stay outside the campus and attend the School for the classes. From 1940-41, he also voluntarily taught at the English Medium School there started by Pastor Abraham. After leaving the School, Kurien had intentions to join the Indian Armed Forces and applied for the same. However, during the 30 days in waiting before the joining letter could come, he experienced a spiritual turning point, his baptism with the Holy Spirit. With the baptism came a deep longing to serve God fully; Kurien, rejecting the offer to join the Armed Forces, set out at the age of 20 to serve the Lord.

On 2 November 1944, Kurien was married to K.M. Annamma, daughter of Pastor K.G. Mathew. His zeal for the Lord’s work was so intense that only two days after their marriage, he set off to preach in a convention at Melpadam. He recounts how when, during the meeting, it began to rain and people were running helter-skelter, he called them to become still and then he prayed; the rain abruptly stopped.

Only a few months later, in February 1945, Kurien Thomas and his wife Annamma entered Itarsi as the first Pentecostal base missionaries to that region. Pastor M.K. Chacko of Delhi had earlier made a short visit to this place and seen the absence of any Pentecostal work in the central province. On reaching Kerala, he shared this burden with Kurien and his wife. The couple felt that this was God’s will for them and started out with Pastor Chacko arriving at Itarsi in the first week of February, 1945. The next day, Pastor Chacko left for Delhi, leaving the 23 year old preacher and his 19 year old wife before a mountain of mission challenges ahead of them. The next few years were times of intense and multiple trials, but the Lord was faithful; the ground was finally broken and in the years to come, a formerly barren land bloomed with harvest crops of the Spirit’s outpouring, having turned into a giant mission base that trained and sent out hundreds into the mission fields of the world.

In 1946, the first Pentecostal conference was held in Itarsi. In 1948, the Hindi monthly, Satyadoot, was born. In 1962, the Bharaso Bible School (now Central India Theological Seminary) was started with only seven students. In 1966, several independent Pentecostal churches, primarily in North India, decided to come together as a Fellowship under the leadership of Dr. Kurien Thomas. The Fellowship, which celebrated its Golden Jubilee this year, came to be known as the Fellowship of the Pentecostal Churches in India.  Dr. Kurien Thomas ministered in several conferences, conventions, churches, and seminaries in India and all over the world. He spoke in most of the major Pentecostal conventions and travelled to several countries. Dr. Kurien authored several books including, in English, The Holy Spirit, and God’s Trailblazer;  in Hindi, Dharmavijnan Pranali (Systematic Theology), Pavitra Atma, Parinayagatha (Commentary on Song of Solomon), Daiviya Prakashan (Commentary on the Book of Revelation), Ish Adarsha Niketan (Typology of the Tabernacle); and, in Malayalam, Ecclesiology, Arithayade Alambam (on Book of Ruth), and Elohiyude Eliyavu (on Elijah).

On October 19 of 2000, two days before the Annual Conference would begin, Dr. Kurien Thomas breathed his last and entered into glory. He is succeeded by his son, Dr. Matthew K. Thomas, who, in addition to the ministries at Itarsi, also serves as the present General Secretary of the Pentecostal World Fellowship.


Originally written for the FB group "Remember the Leaders who spoke the Word of God to you"

Links:
Official Central India Outreach Page

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The Pauline Method of Doing Missions - Oswald J Smith

Oswald J. Smith, The Challenge of Missions, pp.63,64

In Acts 19:8-10, 18-20, we have a marvelous example of the Pauline method. In two short years, we are told, all those in Asia heard the Gospel. Asia covered a territory of approximately 50,000 square miles. There was a mighty revival. Books belonging to various false cults were burned publicly. The upheaval was so great that books costing thousands of dollars were burned.

How did it happen? Paul took charge of a school and taught every day. Most certainly he did not travel throughout Asia and evangelize the country himself. So far a the record goes, he stayed in one place, but he taught others; then they in turn went everywhere preaching the Gospel, with the results described in the 19th chapter. Wherever he went, he "preached and taught" (Acts 14:21). That method cannot be improved upon. It will work everywhere.

The West Indies Mission has proved it. They started in Cuba with a Bible School. Not a church, mark you, but a Bible School. Then they went to Haiti and established another. Later they put one in the Dominican Republic and another in Jamaica. Now they are starting a fifth in one of the French Islands. What has been the result? The students in hundreds have gone from their Bible Schools throughout the length and breadth of the Islands of the West Indies, and more than 80,000 have been won to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The old method has been followed for decades. Churches had been built in the larger towns and cities, but the country districts, where most of the people lived, were left untouched and unevangelized. The West Indies Mission went in. The Pauline method was adopted. Now annual conferences number over 7,000, so great has the Word of God grown and multiplied.

In Ethiopia, the missionaries had made but little headway. There were only a handful of believers when I was there. Then the natives took over and during the Italian occupation, in spite of imprisonment, floggings, and martyrdom, 20,000 were brought to Christ without the help of a single missionary. Today there are 50,000 Christians and 300 native churches. What a miracle! That is the ideal way. It is the only method that really succeeds.

Such a method cuts down expenses. The natives can live cheaper. No furloughs are necessary. They can be supported by their own churches. Foreign funds are not required. All we have to do is support the missionary and his work, and leave it to the natives to do the rest. The work then becomes self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating. That is the Scriptural way. The Pauline method cannot be improved upon.
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When Silence Seals

When silence seals the lips of friends,
You let me know You are here;
When cold confusion darkness tends,
You shine Your light over here.

When dull seems destiny, far unseen,
You still keep walking, closely by.
When friends fear failure will strike my knees,
You stand to hold and lift me high.

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Mission, Missions, and Missional

Whenever a new word enters the market, there are many who wish to grab it and use it to express or verbalize concepts that occur to them. However, it is important to avoid sporadic use of expressions without understanding them in their original usage. It can lead to confusion of language. Two terms that are becoming more popularly used, in addition to "mission", are "missions" and "missional", and they require proper definition. Let's look at some popular definitions of these terms:

Christopher J.H. Wright, The Mission of God's People
--Mission is all that God is doing in his great purpose for the whole of creation and all that he calls us to do in cooperation with that purpose. (Analogy: Science)
--Missions is the multitude of activities that God's people can engage in, by means of which they participate in God's mission. (Analogy: Sciences)
--Missional is to have (Analogy: Scientific)

Ed Stetzer, Missions vs. Missional?
--Mission is the reason the church exists and the church joins Jesus on mission. And, this mission is from everywhere to everywhere.
--Missions refers to an international pursuit to preach the gospel to all the corners of the earth.
--Being missional conveys the idea of living on a purposeful, Biblical mission.

David Wesley, The Church as Missionary, Missio Dei
--Mission is the very nature of the church, seeking first God and his kingdom. It flows directly from God. A living relationship with the God of mission distinguishes the church as a living organism, as opposed to a mechanistic (and secular) organization. Because of this relationship, we truly can say that the church does not support a program of missions; rather, the church is the missionary.
--The missional church begins with the idea that mission is God’s nature and God’s activity (the missio dei) and, furthermore, that the church is the missionary. By definition, the church is the sent church. The “business” of the church, then, is to train missionaries to go and to live out the gospel in their spheres of influence. The missional church, therefore, does not shape programs around consumerist Christian desires. The missional church designs ministries that equip people to show the gospel to the nonbeliever.


The term "mission" is not found in the Bible. The Bible only talks of covenants, of commandments, and of calling and setting apart for some ministry. In fact, the very work of Gospel proclamation is called as the ministry of reconciliation (2Cor.5:18). The word "mission" comes from the Latin word mittere and missio meaning "to send". The New Testament Great Commission of Christ in the Gospels that commissions the disciples to "Go and preach the Gospel" to the uttermost parts of the earth played an important role in the development of the theology of mission. The plural "missions" began to be used for the varied works of mission that people engaged in. For some people, it includes works of charity, social justice, and assistance. However, it is very important for us to distinguish between the Great Commandment (to love our neighbor as ourselves) and the Great Commission (to preach the Gospel to all nations). The commission to "Go" is at the heart of mission. Thus, it includes both evangelization (to turn them from darkness to light), in whatever way possible, and discipleship (to walk in the fellowship of the Light).
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Respect for All Religions

For peace and harmony to exist in any pluralistic society, it is important to have respect for all religions. Those who wish to be respected must also show the same respect for others. In the past, religion has acted as a great dividing line and has spurred and continues to provoke among some incidents of violence and hatred. We must learn to respect other religions, but what does this respect involve?

1. It means to respect fellow humans as humans, first of all, as our neighbors. It means to show ourselves as good neighbors to them.
2. It means to respect the religiosity in humans, their quest, their pursuit for spirituality, for purity, for a good life, for a transcendent ideal that lifts us above the world of mere brutes.
3. It means to respect the confessions of saints, of communities, regarding their longing to know the unknown, to be delivered from darkness to light.
4. It means to respect their literature of wisdom and deep meditation on serious life truths.
5. It means to respect their freedom of choice, their convictions, their freedom of conscience and not consider them inferior for their choice or for any changes they make in their convictions on the basis of proper reasons.
6. It means to respect their attempts to rationally (not disrespectfully or violently)  communicate their understanding of their beliefs to people.
7. It means to respect them as invaluable members of human society and consider each individual as precious.

But, it does not mean:
1. To think that all contradictory views are equally true. This is illogical.
2. To try to justify oppressive and discriminatory elements in religions.
3. To syncretize or try to blend religions into a new religion. It solves nothing.
4. To keep away from trying to understand faiths of people.
5. To stop sharing your faith with others, if you believe it is true and will help individuals, society, and the nation.

I don't think religious tolerance is the main issue. The main issue is to learn to love our neighbors as ourselves, regardless of their religion.

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God's Faithfulness Gives Me Confidence - Dr. Matthew K. Thomas

Remember God is faithful. In the midst of difficulty, acknowledge God is faithful. The faithfulness of God gives us courage, comfort, confidence.

1. Faithfulness is an Attribute of God.
God is absolutely reliable, absolutely trustworthy, absolutely steadfast, absolutely constant.

Faithfulness of God speaks of the stability of God in a changing world. What was once considered sin is now considered a weakness. Values are changing. But, we have a changeless Christ who is faithful.

1Cor. 1:9 - God is faithful.

Psa. 36:5 - Your faithfulness reaches unto the clouds.
Man cannot outstretch it. No matter where you are, His faithfulness can reach you.
The extensiveness of His faithfulness.

Psa. 119:9 - Your faithfulness is unto all generations.
Man can never outlive it.
The everlastingness of His faithfulness.

Lam. 3:23 - Great is Your faithfulness.
The exceedingness of His faithfulness.
Man can never outmatch it.

2. Faithfulness is an Activity of God.
The Bible tells us how God was faithful to His people. The OT talks of the activity of God's faithfulness.

We have seen the faithfulness of God in our lives.

1Cor. 1:9 - We are called into His fellowship.

I. God's faithfulness gives me Confidence because of His Provision.

God's faithfulness gives me Courage.

1. Fellowship of Togetherness, of His Son. (1Cor. 1:9)
1Jo. 1:3 - Fellowship with us, with the Father, with the Son.

There was so much disunity in the Corinthian church.  Paul talks about fellowship of Jesus Christ.

2. Fellowship of Truthfulness
The Son is the Truth, the Truthful One

3. Fellowship of Trustfulness
Gal. 2:20 - by the faithfulness of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me

II. God's faithfulness gives me Confidence because of His Protection.
1Cor. 10:13 - He is faithful... Will make a way of escape. Gives us confidence.

Once my dad was traveling with Pastor K. O. Varghese from Itarsi to Delhi. But, he was led by God to get down in Bhopal. After few hours, they heard the train had a derailment. Protective faithfulness of God.

He was once at Bhopal to speak. He was supposed to speak for Pastor A. J. Samuel the other day. But,  11pm God woke him and he knew he had to come back and not stay in Govindpura. He decided to come to Itarsi and go from here to Indore. That night there was the carbide tragedy in Bhopal. God's protective faithfulness.

My wife keeps reading Psalm 91 thousands of times, again and again. She keeps Psalms and Proverbs in her bag while traveling. We know the protective faithfulness of God.

God sends His angels to protect us.
He shields us with His favor.
It's a double protection.
Then,  He says "I will be with you always."

III.  God's faithfulness gives me Confidence because of His Power.
1Thess 5:23-25. Power for blamelessness.

IV. God's faithfulness gives me Confidence because of His Presence.

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The Immutability of Divine Faithfulness - Dr. Matthew K. Thomas

God's faithfulness must be seen in perspective of 5 attributes of God:
1. Omniscience - He knows everything
2. Omnipotence- He can do everything
3. Omnipresence - He is within our reach
4. Truthfulness- He cannot lie
5. Immutability - He cannot change.

An understanding of these attributes gives us Courage, Confidence, and Comfort in times of trial.

Divine Immutability
1. God's Character never changes (James 1:17; Mal.3:6)
2. God's Truth never changes (Isa.40:8; Matt.24:35)
3. God's Purposes never change (Psa.33:11)
4. God's Love never changes (Psa.100:5)
5. God does not change His Mind (Num.23:9)
6. God's Words do not change (2Cor.1:20).

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The Paradox of Divine Faithfulness - Part 3 - Divine Immutability in Justice, Mercy, and Grace

"And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent (nacham). For He is not a man, that He should relent (nacham)." (1Sam.15:29)
…the LORD regretted (nacham) that He had made Saul king over Israel. (1Sam.15:35)

There seems to be an apparent contradiction between the above two passages: the first tells us that God never regrets; the second, that He did. This again seems to conflict with the idea of immutability or the unchangeableness of God.

…the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17)

But, does historical information in the Bible contradict the idea of divine immutability? Well, 1Samuel 15 is not the only case we are told about divine repentance (or regret or change of action). Remember that we aren’t talking of ontological immutability here (i.e. as related to His being); we are talking here of moral immutability – that God is unchanging in His decisions and moral character. In the book of Jonah, we find again the issue of divine repentance. God wanted to destroy the Ninevites, but

“Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” (Jon.3:10)

Now, in order to understand both these situations in light of the nature of God, we must first understand three of God’s attributes that come into action in these situations: Justice, Mercy, and Grace.

Justice is to reward and punish people according to their works.
Mercy is to not punish people according to their works.
Grace is to reward people, not according to their works.

In the case of Saul, the relenting of God is an act of Justice. Saul, by his action of disobedience, forfeited the promises of God.

In the case of Nineveh, the relenting of God is an act of Mercy. The Ninevites, through repentance, became subjects of the Mercy of God.

While Grace is more specifically the experience of saints in the New Testament because of the atoning work of Jesus Christ, divine favor and graciousness is not absent from the Old Testament. Favor, in the Old Testament, is more a disposition of God to do good to the one He is favorable towards. Jonah weaves all these attributes of God in this statement:

“I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.” (Jonah 4:2)

At any cost, it is clear that we cannot demand mercy, we cannot demand grace. We only seek it. We can only demand something that we are worthy of. The laborers in the Vineyard had to be content with what the Master gave them. They had no right to demand why He gave the same to those who came later.

God’s explanation to Jonah is worth looking into:
“Then God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?" And he said, "It is right for me to be angry, even to death!" But the LORD said, "You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left -- and much livestock?" (Jon.4:9-11)

Obviously, the justice of God related to His eternal moral order and law. The mercy of God related to His consideration of the people as persons. Jonah pitied the plant because he found it useful to him; he was angry because it died. From the perspective of mercy, the people of Nineveh were more valuable to God than the plant was to the selfish Jonah. Of course, the people didn’t provide a shade for God, but they were valuable for who they were. In this anger and pity of Jonah, and the response of God to him, we find a grand interweaving of the ideas of justice, mercy, and grace. Does it mean that God contradicts Himself? Does it mean that He is not actually immutable?

Of course not. It only means that God is just, merciful, and gracious and we must understand the immutability of God as not being limited by justice only but also extending in grace and mercy. It also means that God expects us to have a soft corner while not forgoing rigidness and discipline. We must remember that the same God who forgave the Ninevites was the One who struck Ananias and Sapphira to death in the New Testament. More importantly, we must not lose sight of the justice of God when we’re seeking His mercy. There is no mercy for those who lack the sense and appreciation for justice. The depth of our understanding of divine mercy is proportionate to the depth of our understanding of divine justice.
It is not the case that God changed His mind; however, it is the case that God’s character is immutable with regard to His justice and mercy. It’s like the tap which has a hot water knob and a cold water knob. The hot water and the cold water is there; however, it is up to us whether we let the hot water out or the cold water out. Similarly, the justice and mercy of God is unchanging. However, it is also true that not everybody receives mercy though mercy is for all; similarly, not everyone stays condemned though all deserve the judgment of God. Let’s look at some qualities of those who receive the judgment of God and do not receive the mercy of God. Then, we will look at the qualities of those who receive the mercy of God in their lives.

Recipients of Judgment
1. The Rebellious (1Sam.15:23)
2. The Unforgiving (Mat.18:32-34; James 2:13)
3. The Unbelieving (Rev.21:8; John 3:18)
4. The Proud (James 4:6)
5. The Unrepentant (Rev.3:3; Rev.16:9-11)

Recipients of Mercy
1. Those who Fear God (Psa.103:11,17)
2. Those who have Faith in God (Eph.2:14; Titus 3:5)
3. The Humble, Broken Hearted, and Repentant (Luke 18:13,14)
4. The Merciful (Matt.5:7)
5. Those who come to His Throne of Grace (Heb.4:16; Psa. 4:1; Psa.86:5)

God is faithful in His justice and mercy. He does not show personal favoritism on any man (Gal.2:6). However, no man can also demand the mercy of God. It is His prerogative and sovereign determination. He has mercy on whom He wills (Rom.9:18). It is His to give equally to those who came later as to those who came first (Matt.20:14). There is nothing faithless and unlawful in what He does with His own things (Matt.20:13). However, one can choose to either be a vessel of mercy or vessel of destruction; it's up to the person. Evidently, one who stands and says "I am worthy of divine mercy" has no brokenheartedness and humility. He cannot be a vessel of mercy, but only of wrath. However, the one who bows down and cries out with a true repentant heart receives mercy. Thus, God is faithful in His mercies to help (Heb.4:16), to deliver (1Cor.10:13), to forgive and to cleanse us (1Jn.1:9).
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The Paradox of Divine Faithfulness - Part 2 - In The Hour of Trial

Paradox: a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement which, when investigated or explained, may prove to be well-founded or true.

For instance: Scientists say that Light is a wave, and then also say that Light is a particle. Now, something cannot be both a particle and a wave at the same time. Thus, when you look for light as looking for a wave, light appears to behave like wave, and when you look for it as a particle, it appears to behave as a particle…

TEXT:
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1Co 10:13 NKJ)
However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew (azab) from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart. (2Ch 32:31 NKJ)

Reading:
At that time Berodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. And Hezekiah was attentive to them, and showed them all the house of his treasures -- the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory -- all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them. Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah, and said to him, "What did these men say, and from where did they come to you?" So Hezekiah said, "They came from a far country, from Babylon." And he said, "What have they seen in your house?" So Hezekiah answered, "They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them." Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD: 'Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,' says the LORD. 'And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.' " So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!" For he said, "Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?" (2Kings 20:12-19)

2Chronicles which is a priestly chronicle of Israel interprets this event as God’s forsaking of Hezekiah in order to test what is in his heart.. And, what was found was nothing but foolishness, pride, credulity, and inability to foresee the results of one’s actions. But, what looks amazing is the fact that we are told that God withdrew or left Hezekiah alone to himself in order for him to be tested.

Let’s go back a little and look at the Original Fall of Man. Calvinists tell us that the Fall was itself in the foreplan of God, was part of His Plan. God knew that Adam would inevitably fall into sin if He withdrew His grace from him, and so in the First Test of Humanity, God withdrew Himself from man. They say this because they argue, “Suppose Adam didn’t fall, how would it be possible for Christ to incarnate as man and die for our sins, making available for us a greater glory than that which Adam ever had?” They believe that the Fall of Adam was predestinated.
I believe this is a very erroneous view of the nature of God and the nature of temptation as well.

We are strongly told that God is faithful, who will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that we may be able to bear it.
But, this is where we encounter the Paradox of Divine Faithfulness again. THE GOD who promised to be with us even in the hour of testing is the one who is said to have left Hezekiah alone in order for him to be tested…

When the Chroniclers tell us that God withdrew from or left Hezekiah alone, the Hebrew word used is azab – to leave, to forsake, to loose. What is paradoxical is that the Bible uses this same word azab to remind us that God will never leave us nor forsake us again and again in the Scriptures.

Moses says to all Israel:
"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." (Deu 31:6 NKJ)
Moses tells to Joshua:
"And the LORD, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with (Deu 31:8 NKJ)
GOD says to Joshua:
"No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. (Jos 1:5 NKJ)
David said to his son Solomon, "Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God-- my God-- will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD (1Ch 28:20 NKJ)
Solomon prays:
"May the LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us nor forsake us, (1Ki 8:57 NKJ)

The Writer of Hebrews tells the Christians:
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Heb 13:5 NKJ)

THE PROMISE IS CLEAR: GOD WILL NEVER LEAVE NOR FORSAKE…

And yet we are told that Hezekiah was left alone by God.
What does it mean to be left alone?
What does it mean to be tested?

I don’t think there is any person here who has not experienced at sometime in his life a feeling that he is left alone and that the tests of life are too hard beyond strength.

One of the greatest cries in history was when from the cross, Jesus cried, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Mat 27:46 NKJ)

In the midst of his fiery trial Job calls out in chapter 23:3-9
Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, That I might come to His seat! (Job 23:3 NKJ)
"Look, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him; When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. (Job 23:9 NKJ)

The paradox is painful because it is also true at the same time that the God who forsakes at the time of our test is the same God who is there to hold us up.

Here is the point of Job’s victory: verse 10
But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10 NKJ)

David prays to God:
Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation. (Psa 27:9 NKJ)

Jesus taught us to pray
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. (Mat 6:13 NKJ)

1. God’s Withdrawal in the Time of our Testing Does Not Mean God’s Abandonment of His People. God only abandons those who have been tested and proven to be thoroughly godless (Rom.1:24).
2. God’s Withdrawal in the Time of our Testing Does Not Mean God’s Presence is Not With Us. This is impossible; because He is everywhere, and secondly because His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us can never change. So, how is it possible for God to leave us alone and at the same time be with us? How is it possible for the Son of God, God Himself, to cry out “My God and My God, why have you forsaken me?” This is the paradox of divine faithfulness: He leaves us and still He is with us.
3. God’s Withdrawal in the Time of Testing is not in order to make us fall, but in order to allow our faith to be seen as it is; in order for our love to be seen as it is. After Abraham was tested, God said “now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." (Gen 22:12 NKJ). Peter talks about our faith coming out of the fire of trials as pure gold. Testing is not in order to make us fall but to reveal to us what we are and where we are so that we can move forward. There is difference between exercise and test. Exercises help us be strong, but it is only a test that leads us to the next level.
4. God’s Withdrawal in the Time of Testing does not mean that God is Not with us in the Hour of Testing. He promised to walk with us when we walk through fire, through waters…
5. God’s Withdrawal in the Time of Testing is Real. But, His Presence is also equally Real. That’s why Christ who cried to God on the Cross, “Why have you forsaken me” could also say “Father, into Your hands I submit my Spirit”. We experience this withdrawal in the form of the silence of God, the absence of any feeling of God’s power, the great pressure of the trial that seems to almost crush us. Paul tells of one such experience in 2Cor.1:8-10, He says, “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, (2Co 1:8-10 NKJ)
6. We must differentiate between TESTING and TEMPTATION. The goal of temptation is to cause someone to fall into sin. The goal of testing is to help us move forward. God never tempts anyone. The devil is the tempter. James tells us to be careful not to say when we are tempted that we are tempted by God, for God never tempts anyone nor is tempted.
7. Prayer is the door of faith that connects us to the invisible. Therefore, Jesus said “Watch and pray so that you do not enter into temptation.” It is through prayer that one stays connected with the God who is still with us, while He has also withdrawn from us. Therefore, James says that when we face trials and we realize we lack wisdom, we must ask it of God. Solomon reminds us to fear God first for it is the beginning of wisdom and then says that we must not rely on our own understanding, not be wise in our own eyes, but trust in the Lord with all our heart. Not to live as if God is not there, but to walk in the Spirit and be led by the Spirit. Hezekiah missed this. He had become OVER CONFIDENT, so much that he thought prayer was not necessary. When he was about to die, he prayed with tears; but, now all that passion had died. There is nothing more godless and infernal/ hellish than a prayerless lifestyle. We must pray that God will not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. And, we must pray for each other.

GOD IS FAITHFUL, the Bible says. who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

When trials come, what is more important is not how fiery the trial is, or how overpowering and strong it looks like; what is more important for us is to BELIEVE and be unshaken in this faith that GOD IS FAITHFUL. THIS FAITH IN THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD IS THE KEY TO OUR VICTORY OVER THE FLESH, THE WORLD, AND THE DEVIL.
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The Paradox of Divine Faithfulness - Part 1: Infinity At A Cost

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1Jo 1:9 NKJ)

The universe is not a free lunch. Nothing is free under the sun though some may think it is or wish it is. And if we see or receive something that is free, it is because somebody had paid for it.
Somebody has got to pay anyway.

-In any act of charity, the giver incurs the expense
-In any forgiving of debts, the creditor has to bear the loss

Generosity is a great virtue because God Himself is generous. Forgiving others is a great virtue because our God Himself is a forgiving God. But, then we generally understand that man cannot be compared with God.

It is understood by some that God is only and just the “Wholly Other” the One who has no comparative in this universe.

Sometimes, you may have heard people say, “Well, I’m not God; God can forgive so much, but I am not God”

We read about the miracles of Jesus and are stunned by the greatness of power. We read about Jesus turning water into wine at Cana and the miracle of feeding the 5000 men (besides women and children) with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, and we feel like saying, “Wow! This can only be the hand of God, the One who is infinite in His riches and unlimited in power!” “His resources never deplete though used from day to day, His treasures have no minuses nor pluses though there are debits on a daily basis.”

But, let's think of this. In John 6:12 after the miracle of multiplication of loaves and fish, when all are filled, why does Jesus say, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost." (Joh 6:12 NKJ)

Why does the Infinite One need to gather fragments?? What does loss mean to God??

This is the cardinal truth of the Gospel. And the truth is that though God is infinite in His Power and in His Wisdom, profit and loss matter to Him. The fact is God also has to pay the price for what he does in a universe which is not a free lunch. Now, this may seem very blasphemous for some who think that God is not like man to suffer loss or gain due to His infinite nature. However, a little pondering over the scriptures will unravel many significant truths.

- In His Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin, Jesus portrays God as someone who goes after the one lost one… Why should He do that if His resources are infinite? Why doesn’t He let the world and everything perish and create another new world? I believe it is because He is not willing to lose anything that truly belongs to Him, and He is not willing to let go. He will redeem His own no matter what price He has to pay for it. And you and I know the price He paid.
- In the Temptation of Jesus when the devil tempted Jesus, his first question was “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread”. Isn’t that the general tendency of humanity towards God, even the tendency of some Christians. We believe in a God who can turn stones into bread, we love fairy tales and magical worlds where wishes come true and fantasies materialize the moment they arise. But, Jesus rebuked the devil with the Word, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” In other words, though it is true that man needs bread and works for bread to eat and live, what does it matter to live a life that is opposed to the word of God and is going to hell? Bread can sustain man on earth, but God is sovereign over the universe. Life is not just about eating and drinking.

I believe one reason why the Son of God refused to turn stones into bread was because He knew that the Universe is not a free lunch and He Himself was the Price that Heaven paid in order for the Kingdom of God to come on earth. MIRACLES also have an economic value, a purpose, and are not meant for squandering on personal hunger. Jesus knew He was not going to die by hunger; that was the word of God, and so there was no rationale for turning stones into bread. Also, a Son of Man who turned stones into bread to feed his belly will know nothing of the price that humans pay in order to eat their bread.

Students of apologetics can find here some hints to the biblical answer to the haunting problem of evil in the world. God lets the world according to the principle of sowing and reaping. He allows suffering because the very principle of returns and fruitfulness involves the possibility of both profit and loss.

If you follow our line of argument, we have been meditating on the topic THE COST OF DIVINE FAITHFULNESS.

Faithfulness is a cardinal virtue of God because it relates to God Himself to who He is. It is an aspect attribute of Truth. The other aspects of Truth are righteousness, justice, and integrity.
Faithfulness, Righteousness, Integrity, and Justice are aspects of Truth which is a cardinal virtue of God. Therefore, we have the statement, “God cannot deny Himself” (2Tim.2:13). In other words, God is true to Himself, is faithful to His own nature and being. We don’t find expressions equal to God being merciful to Himself or kind to Himself or so on; because mercy, grace, and kindness are in relation to the universe, but Truth is cardinal and internal to God.
But, you may say, well that is true about anyone… However, we know that is different with men. Almost reverse. We are usually untrue to ourselves, faithless to ourselves; but on the other hand self-pitying, self-compassionate, self-kind, selfish and plagued with every kind of depression, emotional breakdowns, and psychological distress. Therefore, we read "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself." (2Ti 2:13 NKJ)

"God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Num 23:19 NKJ)

It is impossible for God to be unfaithful because He is consistently true, He is Light. There is no darkness in Him.

Now, God is also merciful, kind, and longsuffering. Lamentations 3:22-23 says
Through the LORD'S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (Lam 3:22-23 NKJ)

In other words, God is faithful in showing His mercies and His compassions. Which means again that even the mercies and compassions or God do not stand by themselves but are consistent because of the faithful nature of God. But, faithful to what?
1. To HIMSELF – To Who He Is
2. To HIS Established Rule
3. To His Covenant
4. To His Promises
But, when there is a defaulting side, then God’s mercy comes into play and mercy is a costly affair and when God shows mercy on man, it is at a price He has to pay.

The Cost of God’s Faithfulness to His Own Nature of Justice and Mercy was His Own Son. And He paid the price. That’s why you and I are here.

We must not forget the Cross when we talk of the faithfulness of God. Even when we were faithless, He did not deny Himself. Even when His disciples denied Him, he did not deny Himself.

He is Infinite; yet, He suffers loss
He is Infinite; yet, He pays the price of redemption.

Again, God is Self-sufficient, and no loss is loss to Him. When man rejects God, it is man who loses. Yet, Jesus spoke about the lost and His mission to seek and save them.

That's the Paradox of Divine Faithfulness, because He will not let go what He knows He can redeem, though it cost Him Himself.


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What Did Jesus Mean When He Said His Time Had Not Yet Come?

In John 2:4, when the mother of Jesus shares with Him her concern that the hosts at Cana had run out of the wedding wine, Jesus replies to her that His time had not yet come. But, then He goes ahead and turns water into wine. So, why did He say that His time had not yet come? What did He mean by it?

Again in John 7:6, when His unbelieving brothers suggest to Him to go to Jerusalem and show His works there so that people could see and believe, He answers that His time had not yet come but their time was always ready. Then, He tells them to go up to the feast and that He wasn't coming because His time had not fully yet come. However, when after they go, He secretly does go up to Jerusalem. So, what did He really mean when He said His time hadn't fully come? Did it mean that the time when He went up to Jerusalem was time He was actually talking about? Or did it mean something else?

The Gospel of John has strong purposes in highlighting certain phrases and "time has not come" and "time has come" are important motif phrases. Thus, later on, the Gospel doesn't forget to tell us what this "time" was all about:
John 12:23 – Hour Has Come for the Son to Be Glorified
John 13:1 – Hour Has Come to Depart To the Father
John 17:1 – Hour Has Come to Glorify Son, so That Son Will Glorify Father
Evidently, the hour and time that Jesus was talking about was His time to be glorified by the Father.

In contrast, Mary was more concerned about the earthly glory and respect of the wedding and the brothers were also thinking in terms of earthly honor and glory, which was what Christ came against... To destroy the old world of sin and sinful self-respect and bring in a new order of submission to the Father and His will.

No matter what He did, "this world" could never accept Him, for "this world" or "this worldly order (cosmos)" was characterized by open rebellion to God and His Son. It could only crucify Him and put Him to shame.

But, the glory of the Father was in this, that what the world considered to be the dishonoring and defacing of the Son of God, He turned it into the hour of glory of Him.....

Jesus didn't perform the miracle at Cana because of the concern of Mary or go to Jerusalem because of the concern of His brothers--their concerns belonged to this worldly order and framework of honor, recognition, and respect; He worked in a different framework of time, the time-framework of His Father's cosmic arrangement of things. In Him, the end of the old and the beginning of the new are cosmically fulfilled; for those who accept Him, new life, and for those who reject Him, eternal alienation from the life of God.
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Does Perfectionism Help?

Nothing better answers this question than the ancient adage:

[Imagine a rider fall off a horse that stumbles because it loses its shoe]

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The moral is evident: Never undermine even a little, seemingly insignificant, nail.

However, we can put this proverb a bit differently to gain another valuable lesson:

[Imagine a farrier who refuses to shoe a horse because he can't find his perfect nail]

For want of a perfect nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a perfect horseshoe nail.

In this second version, the problem is not a want/lack of nails, but a non-acceptance of anything considered to be less than perfect. There are two problems with this form of want:

1. The Absolute Version: One may define "perfect" as the best of all or the most excellent of all, the ideal one. However, let's ask who determines which is the perfect nail? Again, is the shoe or the horse or the rider as perfect as this desire for the perfect nail?

2. The Relative Version: One may define "perfect" as that which best suits its object; in this case, the nail that best suits/fits the shoe. The farrier has the option of using other nails and achieve the same results; however, he refuses to compromise.

But, why should a helpful nail that is available at the right time be considered a substitute? A nail in need is a nail indeed.


PS:
Q. Is this being utilitarian in definitions?
A. Jesus, in His Parable of the Good Samaritan, defined a neighbor as not someone defined by society (i.e. caste-community-intrinsic definition) but someone who acts as a neighbor in time of need (function-intrinsic definition), even if he was unacceptable in the person's immediate society. Also, He called as His mother and brethren those who heard God's word and obeyed it (Luke 8:21)
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Two Faces of Anger

In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble. (Exod 15:7)

The Bible differentiates between two kinds of anger: one that has a diabolical, evil, and ugly face; and the other that has a holy, righteous, and majestic face.

Ugly anger is based on selfishness, lust, and pride.
Majestic anger is based on love, purity, and truth.

Ugly anger works evil.
Righteous anger works good.

Ugly anger is impatient and destructive.
Holy anger is patient and constructive.

Ugly anger makes one's face look ugly.
Righteous anger makes one's face glow with majesty.

The Bible doesn't say "Do not be angry", but it warns against anger that is based on lust, desire for revenge, pride, and every form of sin.

(Eph.4:26; Gal.5:19-21)
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Say the Words...

Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs." (Jn.21:15)

Even Jesus asked Peter to verbalize his love for Him. Certainly, if Peter had at sometime denied Jesus saying "I do not know Him", it was more important to confess now his deep love for the Master. Does God need to hear an "I love you" from us? I strongly believe, yes. Not because He is in need of love as such, but because at the essence of relationship lies communication, and communication involves confession and verbalization of thoughts and feelings. Isn't that the reason why worship is not a rite but an act of truth and spirit?

If it is important for God to hear us express how much we love Him and adore Him, it is also important for us as humans to verbalize love and esteem for each other. The other must hear our deepest appreciation. Of course, we express love and gratitude through acts and gifts, but these cannot take the place of verbal expression.

Peter had never said "I love You, Lord! He may have never. But, Jesus knew him and drew him to where he could confess his faith, love, and commitment to his Master. Words are important; they are integral to any covenant, contract, or agreement. We have vows, oaths, and promises; and, in all this, the foundation is truth, faith, and trust. Jesus said that Yes must be Yes and No be No. May the God of Truth keep our hearts in His faith so that we be fearless and unashamed in the verbalization of our faith, hope, and love.

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The Power of Godly Fear (Hebrews)

1. Christ was Heard Because of His Godly Fear (Heb.5:7)
Who in the days of his flesh, having offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and having been heard for his godly fear (Heb.5:7)

2. Noah was Moved by His Godly Fear (Heb.11:7)
By faith Noah, being warned of God concerning things not seen as yet, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; through which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Heb.11:7)

3. We are Called to Worship in Godly Fear (Heb.12:28)
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (Heb.12:28)
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10 Truths About Godliness in 1 Timothy

GODLINESS means devotion to God, reverential fear of God, a life that prioritizes God and His preferential will above all things, commitment to the plan and purpose of God, a life that is in tune with heaven.

1. Godliness is the lifestyle God desires us to live on earth (1Tim.2:2)
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

2. Godliness is coupled with Honesty (reverence) or (1Tim.2:2).

3. Godliness guides the way we dress or behave in public (1Tim.2:10)
in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.

4. The Birth, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus are called the Mystery of Godliness (1Tim.3:16)
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.

5. One can train oneself in Godliness (1Tim.4:7)
But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.

6. Godliness has profit in this life and the life to come (1Tim.4:8)
For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

7. Godliness is the measuring rod to know if a theology is right or wrong (1Tim.6:3)
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness

8. Godliness cannot be commercialized (1Tim.6:3-5)
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness,he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.

9. Godliness needs only Contentment to be fully profitable (1Tim.6:6)
Now godliness with contentment is great gain.

10. Godliness must be pursued (1Tim.6:11)
But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.
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When God Asks for A Favor

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." (Joh 4:7)

~This is not the first time when God asks someone for a favor, but actually intends to do great things for that person. We know the story of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath. Elijah asked this widow, who was hoping to only die, to bring him some water in a vessel, and then called out to also bring him something to eat (1Kgs.17:9-11). The widow felt this to be too demanding, but only later realized that she had been chosen by God to be saved in the serving of God's purposes. When Jesus approached Peter in his failure of having caught no fish through the night's vigilant toil, He first asked him to move the boat a little away from the shore so that He could teach the crowd; only after that did He do a miracle that completely transformed Peter's life and showed him the purpose he was created for. Do we recognize Jesus when He comes and asks us, "Give me a drink."?
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Three H's of Marriage from Hebrews 13:4

"Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge." (Heb 13:4)
1. Marriage is Honourable. Not something to be ashamed of, not a sin, but considered  honorable by God.
2. Marriage is Holy. Bed must be undefiled. Marriage is a sacred and holy relationship between a woman and a man. It must not be violated in any way.
3. Marriage is Heavenly. Whom God joins, let no man put asunder. God is the Judge who is Lord over the marital covenant. He will judge adulterers and whoremongers; those who are unfaithful to the marriage covenant, have carnal lustings and who go after prostitutes.
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Problems With the Doctrine of Unconditional "Eternal Security"

The Doctrine of “Eternal Security” teaches that a person who has come to a salvific knowledge of Jesus Christ will never turn away from Christ and “lose” his salvation. The doctrine violates several scriptural assumptions and assumes, among many things, that God is ultimately responsible for evil in the world. Contrary to that position, we maintain that a person who has come to know Christ can depart away from faith in Him and lose the privilege of salvation. While the controversy is a large one (with roots dating back to the Augustinian-Pelagian controversy related to depravity and freedom), it is evident from all scriptural, rational, and empirical facts that the doctrine of eternal security violates key assumptions of scripture, reason, and experience. While we respect the religiosity of peoples, religiosity and zeal are not evidences for truthfulness of doctrine (Rom.10:2). One can have zeal for emphasis on the grace of God and still be misinterpreting the grace of God in a way that is against the revelation of God. One can be zealous for his opinion out of ignorance. This strongly beckons each of us to pay careful attention to our study of scriptures; that we do not blindly follow a theological system unwarrantedly, when the Word is in our hands for personal perusal.
Following are some reasons why the doctrine of unconditional security cannot be considered as biblically tenable:
  1. Salvation is not a gift apart from Christ. Therefore, to lose faith in Christ means to lose Christ and His salvation.
  2. To be “born again” doesn’t mean constitutional regeneration; neither the body nor the soul nor the spirit undergoes involuntary [constitutional] transformation in this event. To be born by the word means to respond by faith to the word (Heb.4:1,2). To be born by the Spirit is to respond to the voice of the Spirit in the positive (Jn.3:3,7). Regeneration is not involuntary in the faith-response aspect. However, regeneration in the resurrection or transformation of this vile body to conform to His glorious one will be by the act of God on the Final Day (Phil.3:21).
  3. Justification is not apart from Christ. To deny Christ by works means to return to the unjustified position.
  4. God desires all men to be saved; however, only those who believe (by free choice, not by mechanical compulsion) receive eternal life and the right to be called the sons of God.
  5. Eternal life is not apart from the life of the Triune God- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 
  6. To have the Spirit means to have love, which is the fruit of the Spirit; he that doesn’t have love doesn’t have life (1Jn.3:15).
  7. Christians are asked to watch against the root of bitterness, which can destroy self and others (Heb.12:15).
  8. Jesus warned of ravenous wolves that came to destroy the sheep (Matt.7:15); if the destruction was not possible, the warning would be meaningless.
  9. To argue that God is playing a game in which the dices move, but they are ultimately moved by God is to reduce the moral world into a mechanical system, which in turn reduces God into a sadist sovereign, if “moral freedom” is still insisted upon. To say that God gives people moral freedom but arranges things in a way that they will always fall into sin is to ultimately point at God as the author of evil.  This is blasphemy against God.
  10. Some non-biblical traditions maintain that the life, nature, and destiny of humans has been predetermined by either past events, by forces of nature, by some impersonal law, or by the writ of God. For such, freedom and determinism are compatible. However, no law court will accept the theory of determinism in condemning the guilty for making evil choices in their right mind. Even if one were to say that he was just a "cog" in the evil machine or system, every person is held responsible for the acts that he chooses. If events are predetermined, then all thought-events are also predetermined. If thought-events (of thinking) are predetermined, then truth is a property of causality. If truth is a property of causality, then any conclusion would be true, as in pluralism. If two contradictory statements (say, Calvinism and non-Calvinism) are true at the same time, then the law of non-contradiction must be false. But, the only way one can say that the law of non-contradiction is false is by asserting the law. Therefore, the law of non-contradiction stands, unless one resorts to a form of supra-rationalism that turns to a mystic supra-experience believed to transcend this-worldly experience, which, this-worldly experience, some regard as illusory and insufficient (as in forms of Eastern mysticism). But, the Bible strongly upholds propositional truth, and propositions submit to the law of non-contradiction.Therefore, again, predeterminism cannot be seen as compatible with freedom, and freedom is the property of truth.
  11. To maintain that we have freedom and yet are compelled [as in compatibilism] is to remove the basis of truth and try to hang it upon nothing. While one notes the epistemic possibility of both freedom and determinism in the mind, as in the Kantian Antinomies, reason demands that truth be unaffected by the causal relations of the world and possess the property of freedom. The Laws of Logic (of Identity, Non-contradiction, and the Excluded Middle) are fundamental to truth-commitment (or else one can't be singular in assertion; if everything can be true, then nothing is true). The either/or exclusion is an essential condition of truth. So, while our coming to knowledge of truth is contingent on several events (hearing, understanding, communication principles..), the faith-response (or truth-commitment) as a voluntary act cannot be both determined (involuntary) and free (voluntary) at the same time; it is either/or.
  12. To say that freedom doesn’t exist is to commit the same error of removing the basis of truth and asserting something as true at the same time. If freedom doesn’t exist, truth and error no longer exist as free categories of perception. But, if truth doesn’t exist, the statement “We are irresistibly compelled and yet free” becomes self-contradictory. How does one know that the statement is true if truth is no longer absolute and transcendent?
  13. The doctrine of eternal security is not open to falsification, violating an empirical principle of verification. How can you refute a statement if it is constructed in a way that doesn’t admit of refutation? But, this limitation is only empirical and not scriptural. For instance, if we point out a person and say that “See, he was saved but now is lost,” the objection would be “He is lost because he was never saved in the first place.” Such a definition doesn’t admit of empirical falsification. However, we have many scriptural assertions that testify against the presuppositions, assumptions, and conclusions of the doctrine of eternal security.
  14. The “Be not deceived” warnings in the Bible are directed towards Christians warning them to watch against deception so that they don’t perish (1Cor.6:9-10; Gal.6:7-8).
  15. Christians are warned that those who sow to the flesh and live according to the flesh will reap corruption and death (perdition); but, they who sow to the Spirit and mortify the deeds of the body by the Spirit will reap everlasting life (Gal.6:8; Rom.8:13).
  16. The Sovereignty of God in Romans 9 doesn’t contradict faith as the condition for salvation. God has the right to save anyone who responds to His call and enters His vineyard. He has the right to equally reward the first-comers (Jews) and the latecomers (Tax collectors, sinners, gentiles) alike. (Rom.9; Matt.20:1-16).
  17. In the empirical, we know who is Christ’s sheep and who is not by their faith-response to Jesus, the sheep hear His voice (Jn.10:26-27). However, this doesn’t mean that some have been created as Christ’s sheep and some are created as not His sheep. The truth is that everything and everyone has been created by Christ and for Christ, giving Him the sole right of redemption of the whole flock. However, only those who make the choice to choose Christ are His sheep, and they stand and fall by their choice.
  18. Humanity fell by one man’s choice; but, each human is saved by his own single choice.Therefore, in the resurrection, the saints are a multitude of sons (not sons, grandsons, and great grandsons).
  19. A number of compellers do exist behind every choice; however, they do not absolutely determine a person’s choice; therefore, a person is ultimately responsible for the choice that he makes (either between good and evil; or between a lesser evil and a greater evil). It means God doesn’t predestine human choices.
  20. The election of people like Cyrus (Isa.44:28), Jeremiah (Jer.1:5), John (Lk.1:13), and Paul (Gal.1:15) is according to God's foreknowledge and purposes. The ever-present Spirit who appoints, empowers, and leads God's servants is the eternal Spirit with God transcending time. His acts in time are, therefore, also complete from the foundation of the world. Thus, God doesn't just foreknow things that are going to be, but also foreknows (or say intimately knows) what He will do (as done and complete) in history (Heb.4:3). "For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past.." (Ps 90:4). Thus, "God will choose", "God chooses," and "God chose", while tenses of temporality to us, are one and the same in divine knowledge. He doesn't need to remember and recollect things as if in time; He knows and His knowledge is complete, including His own actions in history, without compelling world-events mechanically but providentially controlling events by His immanent presence and power in the world. Yet, this control doesn't conflict with human free-will when it comes to their freedom to choose between God and self. God knows beyond time, those who obey His Spirit in time and those who are appointed by Him in time. The knowledge is one and indivisible. It is not like God decides He is going to create a Cyrus who would not fail to exactly do what God desires; but, it is that there is a Cyrus in history, among those God created, whom the Spirit identifies and appoints for the work of God, and this is known to God before the foundation of the world. It is not that His knowledge before the foundation of the world (or beyond time) is different from His knowledge after the end of the world. God's knowledge is complete, indivisible, and eternal.
  21. Jesus commanded people to strive to enter in at the narrow gate (Matt.7:13; Luke 13:24) before the gate shuts down. It implies that humans are responsible for choosing life or death.
  22. Jesus warned that not all who say “Lord, Lord” shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of the Father. This implies that man is morally held responsible for “doing” the will of the Father. (Matt.7:21)
  23. Jesus tells to the others who don’t do the will of the Father, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity”. If God ordained these people to perdition, then it would mean that God ordained them to work iniquity in order to condemn them; which is a blasphemous thesis, for it depicts God as the author of sin.
  24. Jesus pronounced woe upon Chorazin and Bethsaida and the other cities because they did not repent though God had given them greater evidences to compel repentance than He had given to Tyre and Sidon (Matt.11:21,22). It implies that God expected these cities to repent, but they chose not to repent and so inherited a greater woe. The woe was commensurate with the degree of evidences God gave.
  25. In the Parable of the Sower and the Seed (Matt.13:1-8, 18-24), it is evident that Jesus doesn’t treat the human heart as a passive ground; but, as a volitional faculty. The Parable is descriptive but not normative. It uses “ground” as an illustration, not as an example.
  26. The tares in the Parable of Wheat and Tares (Matt.13:24-30) are sown by the enemy while men slept. It is a picture of unbelievers mixed up with believers in the kingdom of God, and a reminder that before the End of the Age, the visible kingdom of God will be a mixed multitude. This anticipates the final separation of wheat from tares at the End of the Age. It certainly does not mean that God created a greater segment of humanity as tares and handed it over to Satan to sow among the wheat of the Son of God. That is absurd.
  27. In the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matt.18:23-35), a forgiven man's forgiveness became invalid and was withdrawn the moment it was found that he violated the principles of mercy by behaving according to the law and not according to mercy with regard to others. His forgiveness was withdrawn the moment it was found he failed to forgive others. How can one be forgiven and then be "unforgiven" again? We have the answer in this Parable.
  28. The terms “children of the wicked one” (Matt.13:38), “of that wicked one” (1Jn.3:12), “of the devil” (1Jn.3:8), and “your father the devil” (Jn.8:44) do not imply that these people were created by the devil or originated from the devil. They also don’t mean that God created these for the devil. For, the Bible is very clear that “all things were created by Him, and for Him” (Col.1:16).
  29. The Bible nowhere looks at unbelievers as lesser-than-human or a little-higher-than-animal beings. The "regenerate-unregenerate" view of Calvinism implies that unbelievers are beings whose spirits are dead and who are, in a constitutional way, inferior to believers in matters of spiritual and ethical ability. However, this view is not supported by Scriptures, which states that all humans are made in the image and likeness of God, and expects everyone who hears the voice of the Spirit (for without the Spirit no one can say "Jesus is Lord"), to respond to the Spirit. Even those who believe are not excusable; for if they don't continue in faith, they will be cut off (Rom.11:19-21). The difference between unbelievers and believers is not physical-spiritual constitution but faith. The unbelievers do not have faith; the believers have faith. This must be the reason why evangelism is urgent in order that those who do not have faith will clearly and correctly hear the word of faith and believe.
  30. Jesus said, “he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matt.24:13); He DIDN’T SAY “he who is saved shall endure to the end.”
  31. The blessed will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world, not because the kingdom was prepared for them, but because they clothed Christ when He was naked, visited Him when He was sick, and came to Him when He was in prison (Matt.25:31-40). In other words, God has prepared the kingdom for those who would choose to inherit the kingdom by walking and working towards and not against the kingdom.
  32. People are ultimately responsible for having their hearts hardened to the effect that having eyes they do not see and having ears they do not hear (Mark 8:17,18).
  33. Divine abandonment of those who harden their hearts to the testimony of God in creation and through the Spirit doesn’t mean that God created them as the abandoned; but, God abandons them because God sees that they have made an irreversible choice to reject God (Heb.3:7; Rom.1:21-28;2Thess.2:10-12).
  34. Grace is resistible. God's grace is God's gift and this gift is only given to those who receive it by faith (Rom.4:16). The word of God is the word of faith that a person receives in order to believe (Rom.10:8). People can resist this word of faith (Acts 7:51).
  35. Jesus said that unless people repented, they would all perish (Luke 13:3). In other words, salvation is not unconditional but conditional; the condition is repentance and faith.
  36. In the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree, Jesus intercedes for the fig tree to be given more time for it to bear fruit. It proves that God gives everyone opportunity to repent; such an opportunity would be meaningless if the opportunity didn’t exist (in the sense that there was no possibility for the fig tree to bear fruit). Those who argue that God gives the opportunity to prove to the lost that they are inherently lost, are hinging their arguments on the “justice” of God rather than on the “mercies” of God. However, the fact that God gives opportunity to repent is proof of His mercy, for His justice is already evident without the opportunity to repent. He is longsuffering because He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (Luke 13:6-9; 2Pet.3:9).
  37. John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son. Here the word “world” means all humanity. Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (Jn.3:17). If only the “sheep” were intended here, then the word “world” would not be used; for, again it says in verse 19, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light….”
  38. People reject the light of God not because they are created for condemnation; they reject the light because their deeds are evil and therefore they hate the light that exposes their wickedness (Jn.3:19-20). It refers to people who know the truth and still reject it. However, those who know the truth and respond positively come to the light and are not afraid to come into the light (Jn.3:21).
  39. Even though Jesus is the Son of God, yet in His ministry in flesh on earth, He submitted to the Father and to the election of God. Therefore, He said, “All that the Father gives me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” (Jn.6:37). In fact, Jesus Himself is sent by the Father, i.e. in obedience to the sending. Therefore, He says again, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (Jn.6:44). These verses do not mean that the Father has chosen some to be saved and appointed some to be lost. They only recognize the Father as the Designer, the Elector, the Commissioner, and the Sender. He is the Chief Architect of our salvation. Thus, while people are saved by their faith-response to Jesus, it is the Father who has the sole authority to give these to Jesus because it is the Father who primarily teaches them (Jn.6:45-48), and anyone who accepts the Father will certainly accept Christ (Jn.8:42).
  40. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand....” (John 10:28-29) does not mean that a person himself will not choose to drift from and neglect this great salvation (Heb.2:1-2). Jesus meant to say that whoever commits himself to Him is protected by Him and no one can snatch anyone who commits to Christ from His hand. This does not rule out the possibility of the sheep exercising their freewill to depart from Christ, in which case they will no longer can be identified as belonging to the flock. John 10 asserts the omnipotent power of Jesus Christ. The Jews were desiring to kill Jesus the True Shepherd (which in human terms would mean the destruction and scattering of the sheep); however, Jesus asserts that no man can take His life; it is He who lays His life down and takes it back again (Jn.10:17,18). He has power over His life and power to give life to His sheep; He is a Shepherd who will not fail to keep His sheep. However, again, those who reject faith in Christ are not identified as sheep, because being sheep (a figure used) here is not an independent quality apart from Christ, it is the quality of relationship with Christ.
  41. The salvation relationship with Christ is compared to the relationship between a vine and its branches (John 15). God removes every branch that does not bear Christ-like fruit (Jn.15:2). Anyone who chooses to not abide in Christ becomes as castaway (Jn.15:6).
  42. Jesus refers to future believers in Him as “those who will believe in Me” (Jn.17:20), indicating divine foreknowledge as not predetermining faith, but being a foreknowledge of those who will believe.
  43. “And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48) becomes clear when read along with Acts 13:45-47: “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. “For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’’ The Jews thought that they were the only chosen ones; however, it was they who rejected everlasting life (Acts 13:46); but, the Gospel that they rejected was embraced by the Gentiles who were despised by the Jews. But, even the Gentiles were appointed for eternal life. In other words, God had from the foundation of the world foreknew and set apart “those who will believe” and appointed them for eternal life, and these appointed ones were from among both Jews and Gentiles (Rom.8:29,30).
  44. Acts 16:14 talks about God opening the heart of Lydia to heed the things spoken by Paul. This verse means that God gave Lydia understanding of the words that Paul was speaking (1Jn.5:20; 2Cor.3:16; 4:6). God will only give understanding to those who seek understanding; but, those who choose to not listen to the voice of God will be abandoned to the hardening of their hearts (Jn.3:19-21; 2Thess.2:10-12; Heb.3:13)
  45. It is a fact that while everyone is expected to have faith, not all have faith. The reason is simply that they don’t believe. Divine faith is not based on something (like a predestination or logic or set of circumstances or evidence). Faith itself is the ground and evidence (Heb.11:1; Col.1:23). A person’s choice to not believe is the final reference of responsibility for his act of unbelief. It is the ground of his action and the fruit that he reaps.
  46. Faith is certainly a gift of God and there is also a special gift of faith (Eph.2:8; 1Cor.12:9); however, it is possible to reject faith (1Tim.1:19).
  47. No one can say "Jesus is Lord" without the Holy Spirit (1Cor.12:3); however, it is possible for someone to also reject the Holy Spirit(Heb.3:7; 10:29; 6:4-6).
  48. Romans 2:4-5 reminds us that God’s goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering is intended to lead us to repentance; however, there are those who harden themselves and become subjects of divine wrath. If God had created some people as vessels of wrath, then His forbearance would become meaningless.
  49. Romans 2:7-11 points out that God will judge people according to their actions, whether they are of faith or of unbelief. Those who seek for glory, honor, and immortality through their patient continuance in good actions will inherit eternal life; but, those who are self-seeking and disobedient to the truth will inherit tribulation and anguish. God is impartial in His judgment, which impartiality takes into account all ontological (nature of being), circumstantial (situations of life), and teleological (purpose) aspects of a person.
  50. Divine mercy is not a contingent quality of God. God doesn’t need to display wrath on many in order to display mercy on some. Divine mercy is an infinite quality in the same manner that divine wrath is of infinite nature. Those who choose divine wrath (i.e., rebellion and disobedience) inherit infinite condemnation; those who seek divine mercy inherit eternal life.
  51. Only those who believe are justified freely by His grace (Rom.3:22-26; 4:13-16), apart from the law. The Bible never connects volitional faith with boasting (as if volitional faith undermines the sovereignty of God). The very presence of faith excludes boasting, because faith is an act of surrender, not an act of personal merit (Rom.3:27). The law of works includes boasting. The law of faith excludes boasting.
  52. God is the prime witness of Himself. He speaks to every heart through His created things, His goodness, His wisdom, and His word. His witness to each heart is well-timed so that His revelation is clear in the moment when it pleases Him to reveal (Gal.1:15-16). His witness is particular to each person, and sufficient to convince one fully of the truth; so, that those who reject the revelation of God, reject it willfully. If one is unconvinced by other means, He can break through in a personal revelation that is irrefutable (1Tim.1:16). The divine witness is irrefutable; therefore, the world is without excuse (Rom.1:20).
  53. While all men inherit death because of Adam’s sin, all men will not unconditionally inherit life because of the righteousness of Christ (Romans 5). Faith is the condition for justification. While in Adam, death “spread to all men” (Rom.5:12), in Christ righteousness is “imputed” to those who believe (Rom.4:24). In Adam, one talks of generations to whom death is passed by one man. In Christ, every person is given the opportunity to make his/her personal, independent, choice and be justified. Those who make this second, independent, Adamic choice to persist in the autonomy of Adam will inherit Second Death. Those who accept the Death of Christ (the Last Adam) will inherit the newness of eternal life of the Resurrected Second Man (1Cor.15:47).
  54. Obedience is not mechanical but voluntary and those who make the voluntary choice to become slaves to sin are led by sin to death; but those who choose obedience are led by obedience to righteousness, have fruit to holiness, and in the end, inherit everlasting life (Rom.6:16,22).
  55. Justification and walk in the Spirit go hand in hand, because justification is in accordance to the law of the Spirit of life (not the law of sin and death); faith is conglomerate with spiritual mindedness (Rom.8:1-14).
  56. Predestination follows foreknowledge; not vice versa (Rom.8:29). God foreknows His children eternally; thus, His knowledge of His children is immediate and intimate, irrespective of time. While in a human sense we speak of Him as foreknowing those “who will believe”, this foreknowledge of God is unlike human knowledge that is subject to the passage and duration of time. Those who respond with faith to Christ and receive the right to be called the children of God are, thus, eternally known to God as His children; but, they don’t become children because He foreknows them (this is impossible); He foreknows them because they make the choice to obey the Spirit; this response to the Spirit is eternally known by God.
  57. Romans 9 is still dealing with the Jewish-Gentile issue. Paul wishes to clarify that the perishing of many Jews is only because they fail to understand that “those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as seed” (Rom.9:8). For, if the physical seed was in view here then God would not have rejected Esau when He accepted Jacob, for both were the physical children of Isaac, the child of promise. But, God rejected Esau because He had elected Jacob. Similarly, the physical nation of Israel cannot claim salvation because they are the physical seed of Jacob. Nor can they claim salvation because they have been given the law. The mercy of God is not based on our physical race or meritorious religion; the very concept of mercy implies that all of us are in the state of condemnation. Grace cannot be given to those who trust in their own righteousness to deliver them. Grace is given to the humble who come to His throne seeking mercy, not rewards (Rom.9:31,32; James 4:6; Lk.18:9-14).
  58. “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion” (Rom. 9:15) asserts that no man can claim divine mercy on the basis of his physical origin or religious works. The very call of God is His act of grace. As in the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matt.20:1-19), God reserves the right to give to those who respond to His call as He chooses to give. In this matter, the Jew has no advantage over Gentile, except in the fact that they were entrusted with the words of God (Rom.3:1).
  59. “He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens” (Rom.9:18) doesn’t mean that God created some people with hardened hearts or He hardens the heart of some people so that they never get even one opportunity to make a free decision to obey Christ. On the other hand, He withdraws His grace from those who choose not to submit to Him, thus resisting His Spirit of grace (2Chr.36:13;Heb.10:29; 2Thess.2:10-12; Dan.5:20). Ultimately, it is the one who hardens his heart who is responsible for hardening his heart (1Sam.6:6; Psa.95:8; Matt.13:20,21). God hardens the hearts of people by speaking to them His word; the same word that melts the hearts of some, hardens the hearts of others. People harden their heart because the moment the hear the word, it stands in conflict with their lusts and pride and they raise walls and assault against the word because they choose not to believe the word (Dan.5:20; 2Kgs.17:4; Jer.19:15; Heb.3:13).
  60. “Who has resisted His will?” (Rom.9:19) means that no one can resist the personal and purposive will of God, what He wishes, prefers, intends, and chooses to do. It doesn’t mean that people cannot resist the prescriptive will of God; for, people do choose to disobey the will of God.
  61. When interpreting illustrations and parables, one must watch against attribute-confusion. For instance, in the Parable of the Sower and the Seed, the human heart is likened to the ground; however, it does not mean that the human heart is passive like the ground. The human heart possesses the attribute of freewill which the ground does not possess. It is dangerous to use a parable or illustration as proof of a doctrine by interpreting every aspect of the story or illustration as an element of doctrine. The purpose of an illustration is to help one come closer to an understanding of the truth. Thus, when Romans 9:21-23 talks about vessels of mercy and vessels of destruction, one must not imagine that humans are passive, moral vessels created by God with good and evil natures; that would be self-contradictory. The clay is not a moral being; but, a human is. God creates moral beings, but He does not create morally evil beings or morally good beings. For, the very concept of “morality” carries with it the condition of freedom of choice. God fashioned all people alike (Psa.33:15; Eccl.7:29); however, each person is responsible for choosing to be a vessel of honor or a vessel of dishonor (2Tim.2:20-21).
  62. The point of Romans 11 is clear when it warns Christians to beware of pride and negligence: “Because of unbelief they [Jews] were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” (Rom.11:20-22). While the analogy helps us to understand to some extent our relationship with Christ, the doctrinal statement makes it very clear that we, as branches, possess the free choice to abide or to not abide in His goodness. Our salvation is conditional upon our faith. Similarly, the ones who “do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again” (Rom.11:23). God will only graft in those who believe.
  63. Justification cannot be separated from righteous living; in fact, as righteousness is by faith, so by faith does one also live righteously (Rom.6:16-20). Righteous living is the proof of justification (Rom.8:1).
  64. One doesn’t lose life as long as the foundation is Christ; however, if one defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him (1Cor.3:14-17). In other words, there is only one foundation, Jesus Christ, and there is no salvation for anyone apart from Christ. Salvation is not like a candy that someone gives as a gift to a person; salvation is more like a foundation of a house or like a tree. Only the person who stands on the foundation called Christ and who abides in the Vine will be saved. Immaturity is not the reason for loss of salvation. The Corinthians were exercising spiritual gifts, but they were still not strong and mature. Paul says that such people will lose their reward; however they themselves will be saved, yet so as through fire. Jesus told that those who practice charity in order to be seen by men will lose their reward (Matt.6:1-3); Paul said that if he preached the Gospel willingly, he has a reward (1Cor.9:17). Thus, the Bible does talk about having rewards and losing rewards on the Day of Judgment. However, those who defile the temple, i.e. work against Christ and bring corruption in the Body of Christ, like Jezebel did in the Church of Thyatira, will be destroyed (Rev.2:20-23; 2Cor.11:13-15). There is a difference between immaturity and sinful rebellion. The former relates to ignorance of truth and weakness of will; the latter is willful persistence in sin. The epistle warns against both, which means both are possible states that Christians can be in.
  65. 1Corinthians 5:5 talks about delivering a sexually immoral person to Satan so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. This is a reference to church discipline. It does not indicate that a person who is removed from Christian fellowship, and persists in his sinfulness without any repentance, will not lose his original salvation but be saved on the Last Day. That is abuse of Scripture; for the Scripture is very clear in this matter that the goal of church discipline is to lead the sinner to repentance (not to a hardened heart), without which there is no entry into the kingdom of heaven (2Cor.2:5-11; 7:9-11; Rev.2:5).
  66. Paul gives Old Testament examples to warn that those who do not continue in faith will be destroyed like the Israelites were destroyed in the wilderness (1Cor.10:1-12). It is impossible for someone to act in rebellion against God in this life and expect to still be saved in the hereafter.
  67. Paul says that he disciplines his body and brings it into subjection lest, when he had preached to others, he himself should become disqualified (1Cor.9:27); then he goes on to give examples from the Old Testament of people who were saved, baptized, and partook of Christ, but were destroyed because of a lack of discipline.
  68. Paul warns the Galatians that those who practice the works of flesh such as adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal.5:21).
  69. The epistle to Ephesians declares the counsel of God to the Church and declares the mystery of His will by which God chose, in Christ, the saints (both Jew and Gentile) before the foundation of the world. However, Christians are warned to not be deceived by empty words that try to take God’s grace for granted; they are warned that “no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” and so to not let anyone deceive them with “empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience;” therefore, Christians are commanded to not partake with them (Eph.5:5-7).
  70. Christians are called upon to don the whole armor of God so that they may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil in the evil day (Eph.6:10-8). If there was no threat, then this exhortation would be meaningless. It is clear here that Christians have personal freedom and responsibility to act in order to stand against the tactics of the devil.
  71. Though Peter was about to deny Jesus three times, Jesus prayed for Peter that he may not be lost. He set an example for us so that we would also help those who are weak and, though they love Christ, fall down sometimes (Lk.22:31; Gal.6:1). HoweverJesus did not pray for Judas Iscariot, because Judas had made an irreversible decision to betray Jesus. There are some who commit the mortal sin (1Jn.5:16; Jer.7:16).
  72. Christians are commanded to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God who works in them both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Phil.2:12-13). Thus, while salvation is not by works of the law (not the result of obedience to the law), yet there can be no salvation without works (fruits of repentance and faith). Sinners who try to keep the letter of the law in order to be saved forget that the law was originally given to them because of their sins (1Tim.1:9) and because of their hardness of hearts (Matt.19:8). The law exposes sin and condemns the sinner (Rom.3:20). To work unto salvation and to work out salvation are two different things. To work unto salvation means to be in a state of sinfulness and, then do things in order to merit salvation; which is impossible, because the wages of sin is already death. To work out salvation means to do works from the position of salvation; it implies that the person has already been justified and must now continue in his faith and repentance in order to receive the end of his faith, i.e. the salvation of his soul (1Pet.1:9).
  73. Paul himself testified that he regards earthly things are rubbish for the sake of the knowledge of Christ and presses forward in order to attain to the resurrection from the dead (Phil.3:8-21). However, those who walk with their minds set on earthly things are the enemies of the cross of Christ and their end is destruction (Phil.3:18-19).
  74. We are told that only those who continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the Gospel will be presented holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight (Col.1:22-23).
  75. Each Christian is responsible for his own sanctification, that he should abstain from sexual immorality, from passion of lust, and from defrauding his brother; because God is the avenger of all such; for, He has called us to holiness. Therefore, anyone who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has given to us the Holy Spirit (1Thess.4:4-8). It is antithetical to say that one has accepted the Holy Spirit when one is openly acting in a defile manner. God proved the seriousness of this matter when He struck Ananias and Sapphira dead for conspiring to lie against the Holy Spirit in Acts 5.
  76. Mere confession with lips is not enough; confession through works is important (Tit.1:16).
  77. The “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Tit.3:5) do not refer to constitutional regeneration in the sense that one substantially becomes a new creation when he accepts Christ. Those who believe in constitutional regeneration now argue that it is impossible for those who have been regenerated to become un-regenerated again. However, the Bible talks of constitutional regeneration as only a future event at the time of rapture and resurrection. The “washing of regeneration” refers to the washing of sins, i.e. justification through faith in Christ by identifying with His death and resurrection (Rom.6). Those who have believed in God are called to be careful to “maintain good works” (Tit.3:8). After the resurrection, there will be no possibility of losing salvation. However, in this life, salvation in the sense of constitutional regeneration is a future event towards which we are called to move by faith. Constitutional depravity cannot be compartmentalized into depravity of soul, spirit, and body. Depravity affects the entire man. The very fact that Christians still have the “shame perspective” that was the result of the fruit of knowledge is proof of the presence of depravity. God still uses linen, lightning, and shadowy symbols to communicate with man. At present, no man (not even John and the apostles) have seen the resurrected Christ, the New Man, as He is, because we are still in the body of death. But, at the resurrection, we shall be as He is for we shall see Him as He is (1Jn.3:2). At present, we only see Him through the eyes of faith. The Gospel of Salvation is not just about believing in Jesus and going to heaven; it’s about the hope of resurrection, the new life. Those who have this hope purify themselves (1Jn.3:3; Rom.12:1,2).
  78. Salvation is eternally secured to us, objectively, by the perfect work of Christ (Heb.9:12; 10:10,14); however, we can only, subjectively, stand in it by faith (Heb.10:26-27,35).
  79. Calvinism usually argues that it is impossible for someone who is “born-again” to become “unborn-again”; however, this argument is based on a false conception of “born-again” as an event of constitutional regeneration of the spirit, as if eternal life can be possessed apart from the life of Christ. On the contrary, the Bible asserts that constitutional regeneration is a future event that will happen at the Second Coming of Christ. To be “born again” now means to receive newness of life by being justified and sanctified by the blood of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit who indwells those who receive Jesus (Rom.8:15; Tit.3:5). Therefore, falling away bears more serious consequences (Heb.10:29).
  80. Calvinism also is skeptical of how it could be possible that once God has become our Father, He could return to not being our Father (if salvation can be lost). This again is based on the false notion of God becoming our Father in addition to being the Father of Christ, which is preposterous. We are only children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal.3:26). One cannot claim to be a child of God if he no longer submits to Christ, as Jesus said to the Jews, “If God were your Father, ye would love me…” (Jn.8:42). The central Person, the Source and the Mediator of our salvation is Christ; apart from the Son there is no sonship.
  81. The guarantee of the Spirit (Eph.1:14; 4:30) does not mean the guarantee of salvation despite of our falling away from faith. The guarantee is invalidated when the testimony of the Spirit is resisted and denied. Rejection of the testimony of the Spirit concerning Christ is the sin unto death.
  82. Salvation and Calling is not according to our works but according to God's purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began (2Tim.1:9). Condemnation is the just result of our works; but, God purposed to save us and provided for us salvation and calling according to this purpose and grace before time began. 
  83. Christians are warned against drifting away from the things they have heard for, one cannot afford to neglect so great a salvation (Heb.2:1-2). People can slowly drift away from the faith of Christ by falling prey to the seductions of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Therefore, these warnings exist.
  84. Our present, past, and future partaking of Christ is conditioned by the following warning: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God [warning]; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” [present] lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ [present perfect] if we hold the beginning of our confidence [past] steadfast to the end [future]” (Heb.3:12-14, parenthetics mine). In other words, the partaking is nullified if one does not hold the beginning of confidence steadfast to the end. Also, the voice of the Spirit is always present as “Today” with the warning “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…” In other words, repentance, faith, and obedience to the Spirit must be a daily experience till the end. We are called to live and walk in the Spirit.
  85. The Bible commands us to be diligent to enter the rest of God (the work that He has completed from the foundation of the world), and warns us against falling due to disobedience like the Israelites fell in the wilderness (Heb.4:1-11). "Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it." (Heb. 4:1). The promise still remains, and we are warned lest we seem to have come short of it as the Israelites did and perished in the wilderness. "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience" (Heb.4:11).
  86. The Bible states that it is impossible for those who have been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit (not just in appearance, but in reality), and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame (Heb.6:4-6). To crucify is an act of rejection; to be crucified with is the act of identification. Those who reject Christ after having tasted the heavenly gift are guilty of willful rejection (or apostasy, which is different from original rejection), an act deserving more severe punishment (Heb.10:29). In original rejection, a person rejects Christ at the outset and, thereby, never tastes "the heavenly gift"; in apostasy, the person accepts the Gospel, but later on turns his back on Christ in a willful rejection, committing the sin of betrayal. It is impossible to renew such a person "again" to repentance, because he crucifies "again" for himself the Son of God, and puts Him to an open shame. Therefore, it is important that we keep the first faith; that each one of us "show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end," (Heb 6:11 )
  87. The earth that bears thorns and thistles instead of herbs to the one who cultivates it is rejected (Heb.6:7-8).
  88. We are commanded to show the same diligence as we have shown in the past to the full assurance of hope until the end (Heb.6:11). In other words, a reference to a past diligence in the way is not enough; one must be diligent in this way to the end.
  89. The sluggish, the unbelieving, and the impatient cannot inherit the promises of God (Heb.6:12).
  90. There is no salvation for the person who sinned willfully after having received the knowledge of truth, who “trampled the Son of God under foot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace” (Heb.10:26,29). This is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The very fact that this person was sanctified by the blood of Christ, which he now counts as a common thing, is proof that someone who is sanctified by the blood can willfully fall away and fall into the vengeful hands of the living God.
  91. Those who draw back out of lack of endurance, draw back to perdition (Heb.10:36-39).
  92. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but can be justified by grace through faith in the blood of Christ (Rom.3:23-25); however, anyone who falls short of the grace of God will find no place for repentance (Heb.12:15-17).
  93. Those who refuse Him who speaks, i.e. Christ, cannot escape judgment (Heb.12:25). This statement was written to Christians.
  94. Hebrews 10:14 states that Christ has, by His one sacrifice, perfected forever them that are sanctified. This refers to the sufficiency and perfection of Christ’s atoning sacrifice which He offered by the eternal Spirit (Heb.9:14), thus eternally nullifying the writ of law against us, and also granting to us eternal life. It does not mean that people become perfect in spirit when they accept Christ. Christians are complete in Christ, not complete in themselves (Col.2:10).
  95. Christians are called to be diligent to make their call and election sure, so that they may not stumble, and so that an entrance will be supplied to them abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2Pet.1:10-11).
  96. There are those who had earlier escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but became entangled in them and overcome by them again. Peter says thatit would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them (2Pet.2:20,21). These are the ones who try to allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have “actually escape from those who live in error” (2Pet.2:18). The latter end is worse for them than the beginning.
  97. Peter warns Christians to be sober and vigilant, because the devil prowls about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1Pet.2:8). The Bible indicates that there are people who fall prey to the devil due to pride or because of their lustful cravings and lack of self-control (1Tim.3:6; 1Cor.7:5;1Tim.5:12,15;
  98. In the eternal foreknowledge of God, those who fall away are sons of perdition, not because they have not actually known Christ, but because though they knew Christ, they willfully denied Him(1Jn.2:19; 2Tim.2:19; Jn.17:12; Rom.1:20-32).
  99. “Born again” is a present term related to the “Today” voice of the Eternal (not past-present-future conditioned) Spirit. Though we can talk of a past point of having received the Word, the Word gives incorruptible life because it is eternally present and incorruptible, it “lives and abides forever” (1Pet.1:23). Therefore, anyone who has been “born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1Jn.3:9), not in the sense of temporal generation, but impartation of God’s eternal life. This goes along with the following declarations too: “For as many as are led by the Spirit [by the “Today” voice of the Spirit], these are the sons of God” (Rom.8:14, parenthetics mine), “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus [relationship akin to Vine and branches], who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom.8:1, parenthetics mine), “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom.8:13), “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal.5:16).
  100. 2Peter 2:1 refers to false prophets and false teachers as among those whom Christ bought; however, they perish because they deny the Lord.
  101. Therefore, those who walk according to the lusts of the flesh and do not have the fruit of the Spirit, do not actually have eternal life (1Jn.3:14,15).
  102. Jude asks Christians to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints and to guard against ungodly men who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. He reminds that “the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (Jude 1:5).
  103. Philippians 1:6 promises that He who has begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. However, the Christian must also note that God will not complete the good work that He started in us unless we also work out our salvation with fear and trembling; for, if He were solely responsible for our salvation, then He would not have destroyed the Israelites in the wilderness for their unbelief.
  104. The objection is raised that if one says that salvation can be lost, then anytime a person sins, he becomes unsaved and every time he repents, he becomes saved again. Suppose a person suddenly died during one of these “unsaved” moments, he would end up in hell. This they say is not in keeping with the sovereignty and mercy of God. However, this objection proceeds from the erroneous view that every act of sinning means falling away from faith, which is not true. For instance, Peter denied Jesus, but it didn’t mean he had rejected Christ. Therefore, he wept bitterly later and Christ was able to restore him back after His resurrection. Christians are told to restore a person who is overtaken in a fault, being watchful lest they themselves are tempted (Gal.6:1). Not all sin is unpardonable; the only sin that is unpardonable is the sin of unbelief, because there can be no pardon except through faith.
  105. The presence of doubts at times doesn’t make one an unbeliever, because doubt is not committed unbelief. A person might observe some doubts arise in his mind at times, however, they are soon quelled and put to silence as he seeks the Lord. One good example of this is the situation of Asaph in Psalm 73, and the situation of Job in the book of Job. Similarly, one who has not heard the Gospel message clearly has not been given the clear-cut chance to choose unbelief. However, those who know and choose not to believe suffer condemnation (Jn.3:16-20; Jude 1:5). Thus, a person who does not have the faith of Christ may fall into, at least, one of these three positions: ignorance, or doubt, or unbelief. The Bible says that God overlooks sins during the times of ignorance (Acts 17:30); however, that does not excuse people from judgment according to conscience (Rom.1:19-32; 2:12-16). The situation of doubt is a temporary time of suspension and not of decision; it is volatile and can lead to either belief or unbelief. However, those who choose unbelief forfeit the salvation of God. Is it possible for someone who has accepted the Gospel to forfeit faith and salvation? Yes, it is. People can drift away from faith (Heb.2:1), make shipwreck of their faith (1Tim.1:19), and can fall away from faith (2Pet.3:17; Heb.6:6; 2Thess.2:3). 
  106. Sovereignty of God doesn’t imply that there can be no free creatures who may be given freedom to freely exercise moral choices in the world of God. Sovereignty only means that God is all in all, and anyone who opposes the sovereign power of God is judged by God because God is the sovereign Judge of the universe (Dan.4:17; Psa.96:10; 98:9; Acts 17:31). Sovereignty means that there is no power above God and God is the Most Supreme.
  107. However, anyone who persists in sin without a trace of repentance, shows by his actions that he neither has the love of Christ nor has faith in Christ. One cannot say one loves Christ unless he shows by his actions that he obeys Christ’s commandments (Jn.14:15,21; 15:10; 1Jn.5:3).
  108. The Book of Revelation is very crucial to understanding the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls. Faithfulness, endurance, witness, and an overcoming life are important truths that are emphasized and must not be ignored. The Book begins with a vision of Jesus to John and letters to 7 Churches of Asia Minor. Each of the books speaks in connection with God’s plan of salvation. The Church of Ephesusis praised for her works, labor, patience, righteousness, wisdom, and perseverance; however, she is given the warning that she has left her first love and is commanded to repent and do the first works, or else Christ would come quickly and remove her lampstand from its place (Rev.2:1-5). She is told that it is the overcomer who will be given to eat from the tree of life. In other words, those who do not live an overcoming life will be disqualified from partaking of the tree of life, which is a symbol of partaking of eternal life.
  109. The Church of Smyrna is told that he who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death (Rev.2:11). It implies that those who do not overcome will be hurt by second death. To overcome here, of course, means to stand fast in the faith and love of Jesus Christ to the end.
  110. The Church of Pergamos is told to repent and warned that Christ will come and fight against those hold on to the doctrine of Balaam who taught compromise with the world and spiritual adultery (Rev.2:14-15). Only those who overcome will be given the hidden manna and a white stone with a new name that no one knows except him who receives it (Rev.2:17). God is a jealous God and will not tolerate any form of spiritual adultery with the world (James 4:4). The hidden manna and the white stone speaks of the intimacy of Christ with the church, who is to Christ a garden enclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed (Song 4:12).
  111. To the Church in Thyatira, He says that He appreciates their works, love, service, faith, and patience; however, He is against their toleration of Jezebel, the false prophetess who was teaching and seducing Christ’s servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things offered to idols. He warns that He would come and give to each one according to their works. He tells the Church to hold fast what she has till He returns. The overcomer, that is the one who keeps Christ’s works until the end, will be given power over the nations and the morning star (adoption, redemption of our body, manifestation of the sons of God, the glorious liberty of the children of God, Rev.2:18-29, Rom.8:19,21,23; Job 38:7;2Pet.1:19, Rev.22:16). Each time we are called to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
  112. The Church in Sardis is called to strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, and is warned that if she doesn’t watch, Christ will come upon her as a thief (Rev.3:2-3). He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments (a sign of readiness at His coming) and Christ will not blot his name from the Book of Life (Rev.3:5). In other words, those who do not overcome will be blotted out of the Book of Life.
  113. Christ tells the Church in Philadelphia that He will make the overcomer a pillar in the temple of God and write on him the name of His God and the name of the city of God, the New Jerusalem, and write on him Christ’s new name (Rev.3:12). Though the overcomer had a little strength, he kept Christ’s word and did not deny His Name; therefore, Christ will make him the strongest portion of the temple, the pillar; and since he didn’t deny His name, Christ will write on Him the names of God, of the city of New Jerusalem, and Christ’s new name. Evidently, those who deny Christ (especially through their actions) will not inherit any of these things. This is not just about rewards, but about a place in the City of God.
  114. The Laodicean Church is reproved for her lukewarmness and is warned that Christ will spit her out.Only those who overcome will be granted to sit with Christ on His throne (Rev.3:16,21). All these warnings, reproofs, and exhortations convey the message that salvation is not a once-saved-forever-saved thing; it is a relationship with Christ of intimate love (Ephesus), of faithfulness unto death (Smyrna), of purity in life (Pergamos), of keeping Christ’s works until the end (Thyatira), of readiness and watchfulness (Sardis), and keeping Christ’s word until the end (Philadelphia), and of passion with Christ and not a status quo, apathetic relationship with the world (Laodicea)
  115. Revelation 21:7-8 promises that the Christian who overcomes shall inherit all things and God will be his God and he shall by God’s son, but the cowardly (who abandon Christ out of fear), unbelieving (who abandon Christ because His sayings are too difficult), abominable (who do things that are hateful in God’s eyes), murderers (who are governed by hate), sexually immoral (who practice perversion and infidelity), sorcerers (who partner with demons), idolaters (who reject God’s person and turn to created objects), and liars (deceivers and self-deceived) will have their part in the lake of fire which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Rev.21:8).
  116. John warned that if anyone adds to the prophecy of the book, God will add to him the plagues written in the book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of God’s prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in the book (Rev.22:18-19).
  117. Mark 10:21-22 indicates that though Jesus loved the rich young man, yet He could not save him as long as the man didn't do things above the requirements of the law. The rich young man claimed to keep the law, but the works of the law cannot save a person. One had to deny self, take up his cross, and follow Christ in order to enter life. Denial and following Christ are not works of law, but works of faith
  118. Jesus states that it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God; but, it what is impossible for man is possible for God. This doesn't mean that God will compel some rich people to involuntarily make a voluntary faith-response; this is self-contradictory. It also does not mean that with God it is possible to save those who trust in riches than trust in God (Mark 10:24); for God cannot do unrighteousness. "With man it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible" must be understood along with  "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." (Mark 9:23). This applies not just to healing but to all aspects of our receiving from God (Gal.3:2,5).

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Last updated on July 24,2015
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