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Some Further Thoughts on the Death of Robin Williams

I have seen it all when it comes to the death of Robin Williams.  I have seen people defending him for committing suicide (some even calling it a brave decision).  I have seen people defending his right to take his life in the midst of his depression.  I have seen both worldly and Christians cheering on Williams as an actor.  I have seen people having “Williams Memorial” parties where they sit and watch Williams’ movies to celebrate his life (and his death I guess).  I have seen some Christians cheering Williams burning in eternal hell (no I am not kidding).  I have seen even one Christian rejoicing that Williams is now healed and in the presence of the King.

I have seen it all.

Williams’ death sparks a conversation about death that worldly people don’t want to face and that is that we all will die.  All of us will face the great equalizer in death.  On the same day that Robin Williams committed suicide, over 146,000 people died as well.  In the end, the 146,000 people who died the same day as Robin Williams are all the same: dead.  Their money, fame, fortune, poverty, disease, etc. could not help them.  They are all dead.  They all will end up the same as you and I: worm’s food (unless you cremate them).  From dust we came and from dust we shall return (Genesis 3:19).

Now in this post let me just address a few things.  First, as disciples of Jesus I don’t think we should make light of the death of anyone.  In Acts 12 the wicked Herod has James the brother of John killed (Acts 12:2) and he wants to kill Peter (Acts 12:3) but God hears the cries of the saints and He rescues Peter from sure death (Acts 12:5-11).  Later on, God strikes down Herod (Acts 12:20-23).  What you don’t see is the Church rejoicing in this.  You find the gospel going forth (Acts 12:24) but nothing is said that the Church rejoiced that Herod was killed.  Herod, no doubt, was an enemy of the gospel but the Church allowed God to handle Herod and they accepted His judgment.

My point is that the Church didn’t rejoice in killing of their enemies.  Paul the Apostle wrote in Romans 12:19-21 something completely different about this.  He wrote:

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Jesus said that we were to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48) to be like our Father in heaven.  

I don’t see room for disciples rejoicing that Robin Williams is dead or celebrating that he is in hell.  This is not from the Lord.  

That said, I don’t see that disciples should use Robin Williams as an example either.  This was a wicked man.  Let us not play games here about this.  Here was a man who had a vulgar mouth, made jokes about God Almighty, ridiculed Christ, was addicted to drugs and alcohol, etc.  That is only his public sins.  This was not a “good” man as some are saying.  This was a typical man.  A wicked man (Romans 3:10).  

Yet Williams is no different than us.  Without Christ and His grace, I too would be hell-bound (Titus 3:4-7).  Were it not for the grace of God in my life, I too would be lost in my sins (Ephesians 2:4).  Were it not for the cross, I too could be chasing women, addicted to drugs, bound up in my sins.  It was the grace of God and His grace alone that saved me.  It is tempting to belittle Williams and not see our own sinfulness and the grace of God intervening in our lives to save us.  Let us not ridicule Williams for his sinful life without stopping and pondering the grace of God in our lives.  In the words of Steven Curtis Chapman, let us “remember our chains.”  

Before a holy God none of us are worthy.  Before a holy God none of us deserve heaven.  We deserve His just wrath.  But thanks be to God for rescuing us from our sins (Romans 5:8-9).  It was not me that saved myself from the wrath of God.  It was God in Christ saving me from His wrath (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  As Dr. R.C. Sproul wrote, “We are being saved from the wrath of God by the sacrifice of God.”  I didn’t earn this salvation.  I didn’t make myself worthy to be saved by being a little better than Robin Williams.  I am saved only by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).  

I pray that this truth, the truth of God’s grace, will flow in our minds and hearts as we consider the death of those around us.  We too will die but what separates us from the world is the Lord Jesus and HIs grace (John 11:25; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57).  We are not like the world who grieve because they have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13) but we rejoice that Christ is risen from the dead and He is our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  Christ alone saved us from death and He alone gives us the assurance that there is more than the grave.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/14/2014 at 12:00 PM

Why Total Inability Must Be Studied Before Evangelism

God is love.  God is forgiving.  God is good.  God is merciful.  God wants the best for us.  These are all arguments I have heard from people when out preaching the gospel when I confront them with the reality of their sins and the fact that they will stand before a holy God and give an account for their lives (Romans 14:12; Hebrews 9:27).  Sinners believe that since God is love (1 John 4:8) and since God is good and kind, they will be allowed (despite their sins and rebellion against Him) into His heaven.  I have shown sinners through the Law that they are lost and dead in their sins (Romans 3:19-20; Ephesians 2:1-3) and yet they still think they will go to heaven because they have heard that God is love and therefore He will ignore their sins and give them eternal life.

The fact is that God is loving and kind and Paul the Apostle said that this is meant to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4).  God is indeed love as 1 John 4:8 states but we must remember that He is also just.  Exodus 34:6-7 reads:

6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Psalm 33:5 says that God loves righteousness and justice.  The Bible says in 1 John 3:7 tells us that whoever practices righteousness is righteous.  It is not enough to claim that we are righteous in Christ by imputation but ignore the fact that we are to be righteous practically.  Scripture is clear that we are to pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14) and to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  This holiness comes both by our standing in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 10:10, 14) and in our walking in the Spirit as His grace enables us (Galatians 5:16-17).  Scripture is clear that a disciple can forsake their sins by God’s grace (Titus 2:11-12; cf. 1 Corinthian 10:13).  I admit that I am not able to overcome sin by my power but only by the grace of God (Romans 6:1-14).

When preparing to do evangelism, I believe that one doctrine that is key that we must place in the hearts of disciples is the doctrine of total inability.  Sinners are unable to be saved apart from the work of God (Ephesians 2:4-5).  Sinners love their sins and do not seek God (Romans 3:10-18).  Sinners hate God and want to serve their flesh and not the truth (Romans 1:18-32).

Arminius wrote that the fall of man brought the domination of sin into our beings.  He wrote:

But man was not so confirmed in this state of innocence, as to be incapable of being moved, by the representation presented to him of some good, (whether it was of an inferior kind and relating to this animal life, or of a superior-kind and relating to spiritual life,) inordinately and unlawfully to look upon it and to desire it, and of his own spontaneous as well as free motion, and through a preposterous desire for that good, to decline from the obedience which had been prescribed to him. Nay, having turned away from the light of his own mind and his chief good, which is God, or, at least, having turned towards that chief good not in the manner in which he ought to have done, and besides having turned in mind and heart towards an inferior good, he transgressed the command given to him for life. By this foul deed, he precipitated himself from that noble and elevated condition into a state of the deepest infelicity, which is Under The Dominion of Sin. For “to whom any one yields himself a servant to obey,” (Rom. vi, 16,) and “of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage,” and is his regularly assigned slave. (2 Pet. ii, 19.)

Arminius then went on to write about the free will of mankind by showing that our will is warped by sin:

In this state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace. For Christ has said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” St. Augustine, after having diligently meditated upon each word in this passage, speaks thus: “Christ does not say, without me ye can do but Little; neither does He say, without me ye can do any Arduous Thing, nor without me ye can do it with difficulty. But he says, without me ye can do Nothing! Nor does he say, without me ye cannot complete any thing; but without me ye can do Nothing.” That this may be made more manifestly to appear, we will separately consider the mind, the affections or will, and the capability, as contra-distinguished from them, as well as the life itself of an unregenerate man.

Anyone then who would claim either that Arminius believed in a pelagian view of free will or that Arminianism is focused on free will would be wrong since Arminius believed that the fall brought corruption to the human race.  Further, anyone claiming to be an Arminian and would deny that we are total unable to come to Christ apart from His grace would not be a true Arminian.  Arminius clearly taught that sinners are incapable of saving themselves or even repenting apart from enabling grace.

However, Arminius was clear that God’s grace enabled sinner’s will to be freed to believe the gospel.  Just as Calvinists would not argue that God forces people to be saved against their wills but He makes them willing to believe, Arminius taught that God’s grace enables sinners to believe and be saved.  He wrote:

“What then, you ask, does free will do? I reply with brevity, it saves. Take away FREE WILL, and nothing will be left to be saved. Take away GRACE, and nothing will be left as the source of salvation. This work [of salvation] cannot be effected without two parties — one, from whom it may come: the other, to whom or in whom it may be wrought. God is the author of salvation. Free will is only capable of being saved. No one, except God, is able to bestow salvation; and nothing, except free will, is capable of receiving it.”

Arminius was absolutely correct here.  Were it not for the grace of God, none could be saved.  Were it not for free will, none could truly receive this gift of salvation.  In fact, salvation could not be called a gift if the willing person is not willing to either receive or reject the offer of eternal life (Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 6:1-2).

Arminius taught that the grace of God is what enables us to be saved.  This is lengthy but worth reading from Arminius on grace:

In reference to Divine Grace, I believe, 1. It is a gratuitous affection by which God is kindly affected towards a miserable sinner, and according to which he, in the first place, gives his Son, “that whosoever believers in him might have eternal life,” and, afterwards, he justifies him in Christ Jesus and for his sake, and adopts him into the right of sons, unto salvation. 2. It is an infusion (both into the human understanding and into the will and affections,) of all those gifts of the Holy Spirit which appertain to the regeneration and renewing of man — such as faith, hope, charity, &c.; for, without these gracious gifts, man is not sufficient to think, will, or do any thing that is good. 3. It is that perpetual assistance and continued aid of the Holy Spirit, according to which He acts upon and excites to good the man who has been already renewed, by infusing into him salutary cogitations, and by inspiring him with good desires, that he may thus actually will whatever is good; and according to which God may then will and work together with man, that man may perform whatever he wills.

In this manner, I ascribe to grace the commencement, the continuance and the consummation of all good, and to such an extent do I carry its influence, that a man, though already regenerate, can neither conceive, will, nor do any good at all, nor resist any evil temptation, without this preventing and exciting, this following and co-operating grace. From this statement it will clearly appear, that I by no means do injustice to grace, by attributing, as it is reported of me, too much to man’s free-will. For the whole controversy reduces itself to the solution of this question, “is the grace of God a certain irresistible force?” That is, the controversy does not relate to those actions or operations which may be ascribed to grace, (for I acknowledge and inculcate as many of these actions or operations as any man ever did,) but it relates solely to the mode of operation, whether it be irresistible or not. With respect to which, I believe, according to the scriptures, that many persons resist the Holy Spirit and reject the grace that is offered.

Grace is what enables us to be saved.  God’s grace was fully revealed in His Son (John 1:17; Titus 2:11).  God’s grace now reaches out to lost sinners through the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:14-17).  The gospel is a gospel of grace.  The gospel points to the reality that while we are unable to save ourselves (Isaiah 64:6), God’s grace was revealed in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthian 15:1-4).  The gospel focuses on the reality of Christ dying to take away our sins (Galatians 1:4).

We must show people that they are incapable of saving themselves.  Their sins condemn them.  The only perfect one is the Lord Jesus (1 Peter 2:22).  Jesus alone is able to save us by His grace (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  In fact, Jesus is the only way to God because of sin (John 14:6).  The Bible is clear in 1 Timothy 2:5-6 that there is one God and one mediator between a holy God and sinful humanity, Jesus Christ the righteous one.  1 John 2:2 says that He is propitiation before a holy God.  In other words, Jesus turns away the wrath of God against sin.  He is the sinners only hope.

By showing sinners (and disciples) that we are unable to come to Christ apart from His grace and that we are dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1-3), we are teaching people the truth that God alone saves.  John 1:12-13 is absolutely clear on this issue as is John 6:44, 66.  We see this truth also in the conversion of Lydia in Acts 16:14-15.  The Lord opens the hearts of sinners when the gospel is preached.  When sinners believe the gospel (by His grace), He saves sinners by His grace (Romans 1:16-17; 3:22-24; 10:4, 9-10; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).

I pray that we would not give in to the spirit of this age that wants to paint humanity as good and upright and capable of saving themselves.  I pray that our evangelism does not come across as an appeal from a desperate God who is just sitting there waiting for sinners to make the first step toward Him.  We must preach the gospel biblically and accurately as this glorifies God and truly saves the lost.

Jesus Pleading With the Jews To Be Saved

John 10:26 is a key passage for Calvinism and its doctrine of unconditional election and irresistible grace.  The verse reads:

“But you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.”

It is taught from John 10:26 that Jesus was telling the unbelieving Jews that they did not believe (John 10:26) simply because they were not His sheep.  If they (these unbelieving Jews) were really His sheep, they would believe in Him but since they do not believe, they are not His sheep.

There are many problems with such a view.  First, Jesus is not teaching the unbelieving Jews here some deep theological teaching about divine election and saying, in essence, “You are not part of the elect otherwise you would believe in Me.”  In fact, He makes it clear through His works that He wants them to believe (John 10:26, 37-38).

Further, bear in mind that Jesus is speaking to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24).  Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  Jesus teaches in Luke 15 all about lost sheep and lost coins and lost sons.  He wants these sinners, these unbelieving Jews to repent and believe the gospel.

Lastly, John 10:37-38 is important here.  The passages reads:

37 “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

Jesus tells these Jews that the works He did testify to Him being the true Messiah.  His test to the Jews here in verse 37 is that if His miracles were not from the Father, don’t believe in Him.  But in verse 38 Jesus is clear that if in fact His works come from the Father then believe in Him.  He is calling them to believe!

Paul, in Romans 11, is clear that unbelieving Jews is able to be grafted back into the household of God by faith (Romans 11:23).

On a final note.  I am not arguing here that mankind can just believe when they want.  Obviously true faith arises from the work of the Spirit.  Yet the Spirit works through the preaching of the gospel to draw sinners to the Savior (John 6:44), He convicts the sinner of sin (John 16:8-11) and He saves the sinner who believes the gospel (John 3:3-7; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).  But notice that the Spirit does not believe for us (a point even Calvinists admit to by the way).  The key point here is not whether the Spirit draws the sinner or whether He regenerates the sinner but rather can the sinner resist the Spirit.  Calvinists believe that the Spirit cannot be resisted by the elect.  The Arminian differs with this view arguing that when can resist the Spirit.  We believe this because we see this in Scripture even with the ministry of our Lord Jesus both here and in other passages such as Acts 7:51.

Even in the Old Testament we find the Jews rejecting the word of God.  Jeremiah 6:10 reads:

To whom shall I speak and give warning,
that they may hear?
Behold, their ears are uncircumcised,
they cannot listen;
behold, the word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn;
they take no pleasure in it.

God goes on in Jeremiah 7:23-26 to say why He sent them prophets:

23 But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. 25 From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. 26 Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.

And bear in mind who the Lord God is speaking to and about.  If this was the case with the Jews in Jeremiah 6:10; 7:23-26, how much more through the Lord Jesus in John 10 for “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11) but “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

Does A Literal Reading of John 3:16 Destroy Arminianism?

I was listening to an apologetic call-in program that happens to be hosted by a Calvinist.  I actually enjoy the podcast and appreciate his defense of the faith however he does often get sidetracked by Calvinism.  For example, in a recent broadcast he spent his time defending unconditional election and he spent his time seeking to prove that John 3:16 does not teach unlimited atonement.  I want to focus on the issue of John 3:16 for a moment here.

Young’s Literal Translation has John 3:16 like this:

for God did so love the world, that His Son — the only begotten — He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during.

This Calvinist took John 3:16 and he sought to prove that Jesus did in fact die only for the elect based on the literal reading.  His focus was on “every one who is believing in Him” and sought to show that those who believe are only the elect.

Let me point out several things about this.  First, the literal reading does not affect Arminianism in the least bit.  In fact, John 3:16 is still a powerful verse for Arminianism’s doctrine of unlimited limited atonement.  After all, Arminianism rejects universalism and we believe and teach that only those who place their saving faith in Jesus are truly saved (as do Calvinists).  In that case, John 3:16 in its literal reading does not add one thing nor take away one thing from the Arminian-Calvinist debate.

Secondly, we agree that every one who is believing in Him may not perish.  We believe that salvation is based completely on Christ Jesus and that only those who justified by faith and those who remain in faith in Christ Jesus are truly the elect of God.  Believing must continue from start to finish (1 Corinthians 15:3; Colossians 1:21-23).  Our salvation is secure if we are in Christ Jesus by faith (Jude 24-25).  The promise of God is to keep us as we abide in Christ (John 15:1-11; 2 Corinthians 1:24).  Thus believing is necessary for initial salvation and for continued salvation (Hebrews 3:6-19; 6:4-20; 10:19-39).  The blood of Jesus washes away our sins when we initially come to God in faith and repentance (Acts 2:37-38; 3:19; 16:30-34; 17:30-31; 22:16; Ephesians 1:7) but we must walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7).  This is continuing to trust Jesus by faith that He alone saves us by His grace.

Thirdly, if John 3:16 were the only passage we had for unlimited limited atonement, Arminianism would be in trouble.  Thankfully it is not.  We have a host of passages of Scripture that emphasize the love of God for all.  Consider just a few such as 1 Timothy 2:3-6; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:14.  The call of Acts 2:38-39 goes out to all.  While Calvinists acknowledge the general call to repentance, they deny that God will grant repentance to all who come to Him but only to His elect (John 6:37 – a passage I will deal with in another post).  Arminians point to 1 Timothy 4:10 which is clear that only the elect are those who come to Christ for salvation but this does not deny that He is the Savior of all people in the sense that He gave His life for all so that whosoever may come and be saved (John 3:14-18; Romans 10:13).

And finally, I found it interesting that in this dialogue, the Calvinist brother pointed to Colossians 2:14 as proof that Jesus died only for the elect.  He said that the elect’s sin were nailed to the cross.  I was wondering if the Calvinist believes that he was born sinless.  If Colossians 2:14 means that Jesus shed His blood to take away the sin’s of the elect then surely at the cross, at the moment Jesus died, He died to secure the elect’s salvation.  This is a point most Calvinists will accept.  Yet if this premise is true then why do Calvinists deny either A) eternal justification since God chose His elect before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) or B) that the elect are born sinless since Christ died for the elect’s sin already.  In other words, if Bill is part of the elect and he was born in 1977 then logically Christ died nearly 2000 years ago for Bill based on the Calvinist reading of Colossians 2:14.  Bill then was born sinless since, according to Calvinism, Bill cannot be punished for his sins twice (this would be double jeopardy).  The typical Calvinist response is that Bill’s sins were not forgiven until he was effectually drawn to Christ by the sovereign grace of God.  Yet what about Colossians 2:14?  If Christ died for Bill, Bill, in the mind of God, was chosen in Christ before time began (Eph. 1:4 again) and Bill was eternally justified before God because God, in His absolute sovereignty, knew that Bill would believe the gospel and be saved.  Bill never had any sins because God knew that Bill was elect even before time began and God gave His Son to die for Bill so that Bill could be legally justified before God.

I know that much of this is philosophical in nature but I hope you see my point.  The Arminian reply to all this is simple: Bill was saved when the Spirit of God opened his eyes through the preaching of the gospel (John 6:44) and by faith Bill was justified before God (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).  The entire work of salvation belongs to God alone (John 1:12-13) but God does not believe for Bill.  Bill must believe to be saved and this only happens because of the grace of God (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 notice the calling through the gospel and not by anything else in this text).  Bill’s salvation is based completely on Christ Jesus alone and he becomes the elect of God when he repents and believes the gospel.

The blood of Jesus is sufficient for all to be saved but only is appropriated to those who repent and believe the gospel (John 3:36).  A point I think we all agree on.  May we preach the blood of Jesus to all!

Jesus Bore My Sins, The Wrath of a Holy God

The gospel causes me to do two things.  First, the gospel makes me realize my utter sinfulness before a holy God.  I have no righteousness apart from that which He imputes to me (Isaiah 64:6).  I cannot earn the favor of this holy God.  My sins have buried me in despair and I see how wicked I appear before this holy and just God.  How can I approach this holy One?  How can I find peace with Him who is perfect and I a sinner?

But the gospel also shows me the grace of God, that He would send His one and only Son to die for me, this wicked sinner.  The gospel is the goodness of God expressed in His Son.  The gospel is the love of God expressed in His Son.  The gospel does shout that I am sinful, condemned to die for my sins against this God but the gospel also shouts, “Grace to it” (Zechariah 4:7).  I see my wickedness but I see His beauty when I look at the gospel of our God (Romans 1:1).

The gospel reveals to me that Jesus has bore my sins.  He took the wrath of God in my place.  Isaiah prophesied about this Christ and His work in Isaiah 53.  I will place the entire passage here for us to mediate upon and see the wonder of the grace of God at work in His Son:

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?

9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Notice verse 10.  It was the will of the LORD to crush Him!  The will of God was that His perfect Son would bear my sins.  2 Corinthians 5:21 reads,

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Peter 2:22-24 says,

22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Hebrews 2:9 reads,

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

The perfect, holy, blameless, righteous Son of God bore my sins on the cross.  He died in my place.  He suffered for me.  His blood was shed to wash away my sins (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7) and by His stripes I am now healed.  He bore the wrath of a holy God for me!

Romans 5:8-9 reads,

8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 assures us that Jesus has saved us from the wrath to come.

On the cross, the Lord Jesus died so that I might live.  He offered Himself to God for my sins.  In that moment, on the cross, the holy Son bore the wrath of a holy God against me.  That is the glorious gospel!  The gospel is not a picture so that I can feel moved to obedience.  I cannot obey a holy God enough to please Him nor can I perfectly obey Him all my life (Romans 8:8).  I need forgiveness.  I need grace.  I get both in the Son.  The cross is not a mere example of a holy God honoring His Law but it is the perfect Son bearing the wrath that the condemned sinner should bear and will bear if they don’t repent.  The sole reason that I can now be saved from God is the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray that we all would honor the Son for His glorious work on the cross!  Salvation is available only because of His work (Romans 3:21-26).  Jesus died for our sins (Galatians 1:4) and He was raised for our justification (Romans 4:24-25).  We can now be forgiven and justified before a holy God because of the work of Christ and the work of Christ alone (Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).  Throughout all eternity we will worship the Lamb who bore our sins (Revelation 5:13-14).

Apostasy (or Whatever) is Always Tragic

I have been a disciple of Jesus since 1992.  Over those years I have seen many people come and go in regard to Christianity.  I could tell you one sad story after another of people who fell away from the faith.  We could debate whether they were ever saved to begin with but what is the point?  Apostasy (or whatever) is always tragic.  It should break our hearts to meet “former” Christians who once seemed to love the Lord, hungered for His presence, spent countless hours in prayer, and witnessed to others.  Some of my friends who have fallen away include men who once preached the gospel (whether they were saved is another issue but they did preach the gospel in truth).  I have known guys I went to college with who once loved to gather and pray and today they are shells of what they once were.  I have had friends ruin their marriages by adultery and left their wives for other women (and their faith as well).

Apostasy is always tragic.  Whether you deny they were saved or not, let’s agree here that they must repent.  We long for them to repent!  I pray you do.  We should not gloat over a person falling away from Christ.  We should weep and it should warn us as well (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Humility must be maintained when it comes to how we view “former” Christians.  Proverbs 16:18 reads, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  Proverbs 18:12 reads, “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.”  Galatians 6:1 reminds us to watch ourselves when we are dealing with someone caught in any transgression.  Galatians 6:3 is clear: “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”  We must guard against the temptation to look down on those who fall away.  We can become prideful and think that we will never sin like they have sinned.  We boast they were are secure in Christ and that  nothing will ever turn us away from following Jesus (like Peter in Matthew 26:33).  But beware of this. Beware of pride and an attitude that says, “I will never fall into the same sin they did.”

I assure you that those who have turned away from Christ, at some point, probably never dreamed they would.  I can still remember the prayers of one man I know who fell away and how earnest he was in his prayers.  This man would go witnessing with me in college.  He would often cry out for revival in our nation.  Yet today he is living in complete rebellion against God.  He wants nothing of the kingdom.  Nothing!  He claims to be agnostic now and believes Christianity to be nothing more than a joke.  Yet if I could go back to 1996 and talk to this man I am sure he would have said that he loved Jesus, would never fall away and would assure you that he would always be a child of God.

I am not writing this to scare you or myself.  I pray daily for the Lord to help me hate sin.  I don’t want to sin (1 John 2:1).  I want to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Yet I see that it is easy to slip into pride and think that I won’t fall away from Christ.  I won’t give in to sin.  I will be strong when temptation comes. I will stand secure in Christ.  I pray that I will but I must rest in Christ alone to help me.  I cannot overcome sin by my will power.  I cannot overcome sin by promises.  I overcome sin by the grace of God (Titus 2:12).  I remain steadfast in Christ through faith in Him and a focus upon Him (Hebrews 12:1-2).  I fear Him lest I deny Him (Romans 11:20-22).

I don’t live in insecurity.  I do trust the promises of God to keep me (Jude 24-25) but I also look to Jesus alone to help me overcome (1 John 5:1-4).  I know that I am not saved by my works but by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who died to save me (Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7).  My salvation is found only in Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:3-6) and I rest in His work (John 19:30; Hebrews 10:10, 14) knowing that He saved me and He is sanctifying me for His glory (Ephesians 1:3-14).

For those we know who have turned away from Christ, let us pray for them to repent.  Whether they were never saved to begin with is another issue altogether.  We believe that a person is saved through Christ Jesus but they must remain in Christ to be saved and remain saved.  Even my Calvinist brethren teach that a person who does not persevere in the faith is not a true disciple of Jesus and I agree.  A true disciple of Jesus is one who keeps their eyes on Jesus and looks to Him alone to save them, to keep them, and to give them eternal life (John 8:51).  Let us pray for those who have turned away to truly come to know this Savior and find rest in Him.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/16/2014 at 8:07 PM

Looking to Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Today was just a bad day.  If it could go wrong, it did.  I drive a truck for a living and was broke down for over 9 hours.  Then I drove a man’s care back to my work after he came to take over the route for me only to break down in his car with a dead battery.  What should have been a relative easy day turned into one of those bad days.

In comparison, I know there are many more worst things that could have happen.  One man (not a believer by the way) replied to me, “Hey, it could have been worst.  You could have been killed in the truck.”  That put my day into perspective.

Forgive me for my complaining (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  Today was one of those days where I just didn’t “feel” saved.  It wasn’t that I was seeking to grieve the Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30) but I just wasn’t feeling too sanctified today.  I wanted to just go home and do nothing.  I didn’t want to read my Bible.  I didn’t want to pray.  I didn’t want to do anything.  I just wanted to sit.

Thankfully I have a faithful high priest who understands my struggles (Hebrews 4:14-16).  The more I walk with Jesus the more I realize that I need His grace each and every day.  I need Him to help me live a holy life (Hebrews 12:14).  I need His grace to help me to be a faithful witness for His glory and honor (Titus 2:11-14).  I need His grace to help me when I fall short of the glory of God (Hebrews 7:25; 9:14).  My salvation is based on the work of Jesus and by grace through faith I am saved (Acts 15:11; Ephesians 2:8-9).  This grace is at work in my life to stand firm for the gospel in spite of my flesh, the world, or the devil.  God’s grace is there to help me be more like Christ (Romans 6:1-23).  That is my heart’s cry.  I hate my sins.  I despise my flesh and my laziness.  I long to honor the  Lord Jesus in all that I say or do (Colossians 3:17) but I do fall short of His perfection (Mark 12:29-31).

The cure for all this is to keep my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).  1 John 1:7 speaks of this daily cleansing like this:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

The Greek tense of 1 John 1:7 is such that this cleansing is not just a one time cleansing but an ongoing cleansing.  The blood of Jesus cleanses me and continues to cleanse me.  He is making me holy by His grace (Hebrews 10:10, 14; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).  I hear His call to holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16) and I long to be pure and holy.  While I do fall short (James 3:2), His grace is there to help me get up and continue to strive for holiness.

Praise God for His enabling and powerful grace!

For more on this I recommend the book by Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace.  

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