Category Archives: Election

God’s Heart Toward The Living Dead

Right now God is in a state of holding back, or rather as Romans 2:5 says “storing up” His wrath while His enemies roam the earth. His wrath is kindled; it may now be pressing in on them, but is not yet being fully poured out on living people. As long as a person has breath they are experiencing God’s amazing mercy every single day.

We have discussed that God feels anger towards unregenerate men while they live. But what other feelings might He have towards them? What is His heart for the people of this earth? Continue reading

Will God Regret To Punish?

Jeremiah 23:19-20 “Behold, the storm of the Lord! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has accomplished the intents of his heart.

What is it like for God to at last pour out His wrath on a life poorly lived? How does He feel about this? There was a time when I imagined that God did this with great reluctance, tears in His eyes, and looking away. It was almost as if the situation was out of His control as He pronounced final judgement. Continue reading

Can Unbelievers Please God?

There are scriptures that proclaim the love that God has for human beings so lavishly that it almost feels wrong.  Once a person understands what they were in their natural state before God it seems unthinkable that God would set His affection so highly on such fallen creatures.  We will get into these stunning scriptures soon, but first I want to ask:  Who does God delight in?  Who does He take pleasure in? Continue reading

He Has Mercy On Whom He Wills

The doctrine of election is an important truth that greatly helps us to properly understand, humbly accept, and greatly appreciate the love of God displayed in Christ’s death.  The emphasis in scripture has always been that God freely sets His special love and affection on particular people.  I know that I’m stepping on toes.  I’m aware that I’m dwindling down my audience, but scripturally it is impossible to avoid this topic if I’m going to discuss the love of God in depth.  Consider God’s chosen people Israel:

“The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.  It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath the he swore to your fathers… (Deuteronomy 7:6-8)” Continue reading

And Such Were Some Of You

1Corinthians 6:9 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Sometimes I feel quite done with this world.  I hear about the atrocities that men commit and must admit I’d rather stop my ears.  People’s hearts in this world are so cold, hard and impartial to others that it is shocking.  More and more often I hear news reports that verify what the Bible has taught us from the beginning: that mankind is radically evil.  We needn’t be nearly as afraid of bears and lions, tsunamis and earthquakes, as of the evil that is in people’s hearts.

Sometimes, if you’re like me you feel a sense of despair and you just want Jesus to come back now.  How can He be so patient?  As wrong as I know it is, there are times I feel like Jonah.  “Lord, they continue to do evil and why do you let it go on?  Come at last in your fury and let all vengeance belong to you.  Wipe the wicked from the face of the earth.”

It is not necessarily sinful to anticipate, long for, and even pray for the Lord to hasten His judgement.  David, after worshipping God in awe that God would so love and care for Him, suddenly turns from intimate and heartfelt praise to say “Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!  O men of blood depart from me (Psalm 139:19)!”  I confess I find it unfortunate that so few people talk about verses 19-24 of Psalm 139.

However, I think that whenever we come face to face with a foul mouthed God hating sinner, a news report about the latest child pornography ring, or the headline about the latest thief who bludgeoned an elderly person- we need stop and think through these words: “And such were some of you.  But…”

I used to have this resolution of Jonathan Edward’s taped up beside my bed.  I find it mightily convicting, humbling, and effective:

“Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.”

Does my own heart contribute any pure goodness that would prevent me from committing the same crimes as others if I were given the same opportunity and circumstances?  No.  As Christians I think it is possible (but wrong!) to slip into an attitude of moral superiority, with disgust and disdain towards the people of the world, instead of recognizing that it is only because of God’s grace we have been kept from certain sins.  I see nothing wrong with feeling disgusted by sin and in fact we are probably not disturbed enough by it.  However, there is something wrong when we stop identifying ourselves as a part of the same fallen race, capable of the same level of depravity apart from the grace of God.  We should never look down our noses at other sinful people as if we had something on them.

I have heard people complain, also very much like Jonah, that God should not forgive certain kinds of people.  If we think this way, we have too high a view of self, and too low a view of the mercy of God poured through the cross of Christ.  Is there a point at which God will give people up to their debased mind with no further chance of hope?  Yes there is (Romans 1:21-32, Hebrews 6:1-6).  But can finite humans know when or whether God should do that?  No.

The potential for a person to come to Christ has nothing to do with how many good things they think they have done, nor how many unspeakable sins they might have committed.  Jesus simply said “No one comes to me unless the Father who sent me draws him (John 6:44),” and that “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail (John 6:63).”  God says “’I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’  So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy…He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills (Romans 9:15-16,18).”

Without getting too deep into theology and to put it plainly, He can have mercy on whomever He wants to, whether it is little-goody-two-shoes or a mass murderer.  If we are Christians this should provoke gratitude towards God in our hearts for the gift of salvation, as well as a strong desire for all people everywhere to be given the gift of repentance and faith.  God is a great saviour; His arm is never too short to save!  Jesus Christ has paid the debt in full for whoever would cry out to Him.  If Jesus Christ was willing to bare the wrath of God that was headed for rapists and thieves, then why would I not desire that all people be saved?  Why should I lose hope for anyone?  And if I needed that same saviour to shed the same blood for my crimes, why should I sneer at other sinners who need the very same thing?

“There is a fountain filled with blood

That flows from Emmanuel’s veins

And sinners plunged beneath that flood

Lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoice to see

That fountain in his day

And there may I though

Vile as he

Wash all my sins away!”

I want to get personal for a moment as I close.  There is no certain “type of person” that Jesus saves, other than that He came for sinners who would confess that they were sinners.  I think sometimes our view of His love and ability to save people wherever they are at is too low.  I was a foul person with a crude mouth, a thief with a strong taste for rebellion, acting in pride and ignorance every day of my life.  Sometimes that’s all we see of a person on the outside.

I have no interest in excusing sin or making people the victim of their own sin.  No, we are willing participants in sin with no excuse.  But people would have never thought that I laid awake guilty at night, that I feared there was a God who would send me to Hell if I died, and that I hated myself more and more for my sin each day.  You might know people, or simply see them on the street making a scene, but you have no idea what God might be doing in their heart.  It’s not our place to judge unbelievers, but to tell them the gospel that can save their soul and change their life.  God can redeem anyone, and He is all the hope we need in this dark world.  He will either save the wretched sinner, or in the end He will rid the earth of all who remain in their wickedness- but either way, justice will have been dealt and He will receive all glory due to His name.  And we, the redeemed, will cover our mouths, bow the knee, and thank the God who loved and spared us.

So may our attitude be this:  Lord come and bring both your Justice and your Peace to this world.  But until you come, have mercy on sinners Lord, to whatever extent may glorify you as Most High, Gracious, Forgiving, and Merciful God.  Thank you Lord for forgiving me of many shameful acts, and sparing me from those I could have easily committed.  All credit goes to You.  May we be merciful, who have been shown so much mercy.  Put the gospel on our lips and let the light of Christ shine from our hearts.  Amen.

Of My Own Free Will?

One day the Bright and Morning Star arose in my heart.  I was sitting in the shadows of death, a prisoner bound and condemned to die.  My hands hung limp at my side and I had run out of the strength to try and free myself from my chains.  Glimpses of light here and there offered hope, but always they eluded me.  The darkness, with its strange appeal, crowded closer in each day.  My eyes we sore and weary of seeking a way out.  The darkness, though I knew it bound me, seemed to me the only way.  I tried to resist its approach, but how could I?  It didn’t only come from outside, it sprung up from within, overflowing from my own heart.

What were these words upon my tongue?  Lies.  Blasphemy.  Hatred.  I walked among a people of unclean lips.  My tongue had been a rudder to steer hell’s own ship.  Wickedness sprang forth from wellsprings of deceit.  The overflow of my hard heart had caused my Father’s grief.

Yes lonely, lost, and helpless I sat but not so that any should pity me.  Willingly, wickedly, and guilty I sat.  The cost of following Christ?  Too high.  His standards?  Unattainable, so why even try?

I was deceived by Satan and knew it.  I recognized his voice and followed in his ways.  Can you hear the depth of deception in the words I wrote at this point in my life?  Read this and try to tell me that I chose Christ of my own good sense, that I deserved salvation, that I was not a willing and passionate participant in sinning against a Holy God.

“But tonight,
Tonight we have surpassed the screaming corridor
And we’ve lost sight of both the darkness and the light.
Tonight I’ll take your hand and we’ll walk backwards,
For if we forget our sins we can forge this fight.

The serpent sings a lullaby,
And we shall dance the night away
For never have we been more blessed
Then right now throwing our lives away.”

The strange thing is that in those days I would call myself a Christian, yet at the same time knew that I was a fake.  I even wrote about being a fraud.

“The falling words slit upwards
Streaking shards of guilt across
The sun rise,
A shadowing display is peaking through
The blinds,
And I am terrified the world will know
That I am a disguise.”

And in song lyrics that I wrote:

“Which part of me is dead?

The part I fake,

The part that struggles to say no.

It’s easy to tell them who I want to be

It’s easy to criticize everyone but me

Every night I pray

But what happens to God during the day?”

The truth is by my own free will I remained in that prison cell, refusing to take the only way out.  I knew that God hated my sin, that if I died I would find myself in Hell, and even that living for Jesus was a noble and better way.  I even admired those who did.  But sin captivated my heart; it was my identity and was to me the thing that both kept me breathing and strangled my breath at the same time.  Christ required me to forsake my sin, and though a worthy act, I could not make myself want to do such a thing.

Isaiah 42:6-7 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.”

Matthew 4:16 “The people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

One day the Bright and Morning Star arose in my heart.

The light broke forth into my prison cell, my shackles were shattered, and my blind eyes were opened to see the Glory of Jesus Christ standing before me.  Knowing intellectually that Jesus Christ saves sinners, and having that truth explode within your heart are two very different things.  Suddenly the words made sense: “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!  I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see!”  I felt my wretchedness tear me up within, and suddenly understood that Jesus had a profound interest in saving wretches.  It wasn’t empty words; it was truth and He was truth.  There He stood, the way, the truth and the life and He stretched out His hand to me.

I would have never invited Him.  I could never have found the way or the will to get my chained body off of the cold prison floor, to venture over to His Kingdom’s door and invite myself in.  I was a seething enemy with no true appetite for Christ.

“And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviour’s blood?  Died He for me, who caused His pain, for me who Him to death pursued…‘Tis mercy all immense and free, for Oh my God it found out me.” –Charles Wesley. 

He took my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh.  Once cold towards God and unfeeling towards man, He burst the bonds that restricted me from loving anything more than myself.  Slowly my heart began to beat and I felt the presence of God dwell within.

When imprisoned the cross left me guilty, but when He opened my eyes the cross made me free.  When the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.

Life once empty and dry was now full to overflowing.  Mountains, trees, flowers, and sunsets that had lost to me their grandeur now seemed to break forth with great clapping and praise.

His statutes – once so burdensome, became life and delight for me.

Christ picked me up out of the miry clay

He carried me from darkness into brightest day

He set me on an eternal rock

Upheld forever, He has wrought

Himself in me and it would be

Impossible that I could walk away.

 

Salvation is a gift.  It is free and undeserved.  It is Christ’s soul purchasing work.

Did I choose Him?  Can a dead man tell Himself to “Live?”  But rather God says “When I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’  I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ (Ez 16:8).”

 John 5:21 “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.”

John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail.”

John 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain.”

All Glory be to God alone for His salvation to men, and His redeeming love for sinful people.

“Long my imprisoned spirit lay,

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray;

I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

No condemnation now I dread;

Jesus and all in Him is mine;

Alive in Him, my living Head

And clothed in righteousness divine,

Bold I approach the eternal throne

And claim the crown through Christ my own.”

Charles Wesley

Part 6: His Call For You

1Corinthians 2:14 “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

We discussed above that it is salvation that Jesus talked about as being impossible for men, but possible with God.  You may have tried in your own strength and wisdom to comprehend the Bible and even to live like a Christian and found yourself greatly discouraged and frustrated.  Such was the case with me.  You cannot rightly understand the gospel, nor respond to it, in and of your own desire or striving.  It must be spiritually understood, and this can only be granted as a gift from God.  Our lack of capability serves a glorious purpose: “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God (1Cor 1:29),”and “that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God (1Cor 2:5).” Continue reading

Part 5: His Call Is For All, But Not All Will Come

John 7:37 “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”

Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Romans 10:13 “For whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Matthew 16:24 “If anyone would come after me…”

Continue reading

To Reconcile Our Differences

This is another addition to my introduction for “The Complex Nature Of God’s Heart For Lost People.”  I felt that I should be more upfront about what I intend to learn more about and expound upon.  Please understand that this piece is not intended to explain or go into depth about the doctrine.  It is what it is- an introduction and basis upon which to build the things that I will write later.

To Reconcile Our Differences, So That We All May Rightly and In Unity Embrace God’s Heart For Lost People. Continue reading