VIDEO If God is Sovereign, How Can Man Be Free?

July 24, 2013

Tough Questions Christians Face: 2008 West Coast Conference

The Scriptures teach that God is sovereign over all. The Scriptures also teach that man is responsible for his actions. Are the two teachings contradictory? In this session Dr. R.C. Sproul will address the perennial questions surrounding the relation between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man.

Christ has redeemed us to be a light that directs others to Him. Fulfilling this call requires us to be able to deal with the most difficult questions asked about the Christian faith. If we are unprepared for the darkness around us, it will be harder to counter it with the truth of God’s Word.

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A Fragrance and a Letter – Do It Yourself

A Fragrance and a Letter
rose bushes

We are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:15

Every time I get close to a rosebush or a bouquet of flowers, I’m unable to resist the temptation to pull a flower toward my nose to savor the fragrance. The sweet aroma lifts up my heart and triggers good feelings within me.

Writing to the Christians in Corinth centuries ago, the apostle Paul says that because we belong to Christ, God “uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Cor. 2:14). Through His strength we can live a victorious life, exchanging our selfishness for His love and kindness and proclaiming the goodness of His salvation. When we do this, we are indeed a sweet fragrance to God.

Paul then switches to a second image, describing Christians as a “letter from Christ” (3:3). The letter of our lives is not written with ordinary ink, but by the Spirit of God. God changes us by writing His Word on our hearts for others to read.

Both word pictures encourage us to allow the beauty of Christ to be seen in us so we can point people to Him. He is the One who, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:2, “loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Lord, let Your splendor fill my life, that I may draw people to You. Help me walk in the way that spreads the fragrance of Your love to others.

Our actions speak louder than our words.

By Lawrence Darmani

Do It Yourself (2)
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…bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ… —2 Corinthians 10:5

Determinedly Discipline Other Things. This is another difficult aspect of the strenuous nature of sainthood. Paul said, according to the Moffatt translation of this verse, “…I take every project prisoner to make it obey Christ….” So much Christian work today has never been disciplined, but has simply come into being by impulse! In our Lord’s life every project was disciplined to the will of His Father. There was never the slightest tendency to follow the impulse of His own will as distinct from His Father’s will— “the Son can do nothing of Himself…” (John 5:19). Then compare this with what we do— we take “every thought” or project that comes to us by impulse and jump into action immediately, instead of imprisoning and disciplining ourselves to obey Christ.

Practical work for Christians is greatly overemphasized today, and the saints who are “bringing every thought [and project] into captivity” are criticized and told that they are not determined, and that they lack zeal for God or zeal for the souls of others. But true determination and zeal are found in obeying God, not in the inclination to serve Him that arises from our own undisciplined human nature. It is inconceivable, but true nevertheless, that saints are not “bringing every thought [and project] into captivity,” but are simply doing work for God that has been instigated by their own human nature, and has not been made spiritual through determined discipline.

We have a tendency to forget that a person is not only committed to Jesus Christ for salvation, but is also committed, responsible, and accountable to Jesus Christ’s view of God, the world, and of sin and the devil. This means that each person must recognize the responsibility to “be transformed by the renewing of [his] mind….” (Romans 12:2).

Beware of pronouncing any verdict on the life of faith if you are not living it. Not Knowing Whither, 900 R

Oswald Chambers

Salvation: The Work of Our Sovereign God

Ephesians 2:1-10

Salvation refers to the freedom gained when God rescues someone from slavery to sin and makes that person part of His family. This deliverance is accomplished only through His Son Jesus, who died in our place so we might be reconciled to the Father (Col. 1:22). This statement often evokes questions:

What if I try to live morally right, working hard at my job and being good to my family—won’t God accept me? Such questions assume that the Lord saves us on the basis of the way we live. But Romans 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, not even one.” In God’s sight, even our virtuous acts are like dirty rags (Isa. 64:6). Holy God will not have dealings with unrighteous people except through the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Won’t the Lord accept us because of His goodness? God is loving and good, but He is also just. He won’t overlook sin, no matter how small we think it is. Pride makes us reject the idea that we need forgiveness or cleansing from sin.

If we serve in our church or help the poor in God’s name, aren’t we part of His family? Good works do not solve our sin problem or reconcile us to God. Only Jesus does (Rom. 5:1). Good works are an important result of salvation, as opposed to a basis for it.

Salvation is a work of God’s grace, not the product of man’s effort. When we respond to the Spirit’s prompting, believe in Jesus, and are born again as God’s children (John 3:3), we can be assured of our place in heaven. How sure are you?

To Be or Not to Be

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

The verb “to be,” in its various forms and tenses, enjoys wide usage throughout Scripture. Verses employing it, as it relates to us, contain many of the greatest and most precious truths. Consider the following sampling.

Past tense: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God” (v. 10). “You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). “You, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled” (Colossians 1:21).

Present tense: “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven” (Romans 4:7). “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (1 Peter 1:5). “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10). “Beloved, now are we the sons of God” (1 John 3:2). “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him” (Colossians 2:9-10). Note also our text verse.

Future tense: “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. . . . and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:3-5). JDM

A Divine Visitation

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual [people], but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. —1 Corinthians 3:1

I believe that it might be well for us if we just stopped all of our business and got quiet and worshiped God and waited on Him. It doesn’t make me popular when I remind you that we are a carnal bunch, but it is true, nevertheless, that the body of Christians is carnal. The Lord’s people ought to be a sanctified, pure, clean people, but we are a carnal crowd. We are carnal in our attitudes, in our tastes and carnal in many things. Our young people often are not reverent in our Christian services. We have so degraded our religious tastes that our Christian service is largely exhibitionism. We desperately need a divine visitation—for our situation will never be cured by sermons! It will never be cured until the Church of Christ has suddenly been confronted with what one man called the mysterium tremendium—the fearful mystery that is God, the fearful majesty that is God. This is what the Holy Spirit does. He brings the wonderful mystery that is God to us, and presents Him to the human spirit.

Oh Lord, deliver me from carnal attitudes, actions and desires. Give me this morning a divine visitation to purify and cleanse me. Let me sense today the majesty and awesomeness of the “mysterium tremendium” as I wait upon You. Amen.

Without Divine Illumination, Theology Is Dead

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:5

Surely God has something to say to the pure in heart which He cannot say to the man of sinful life. But what He has to say is not theological, it is spiritual, and spiritual truths cannot be received in the ordinary way of nature!

“The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” So wrote the Apostle Paul to the believers at Corinth.

Our Lord referred to this kind of Spirit-enlightened knowledge many times. To Him it was the fruit of a divine illumination, not contrary to but altogether beyond mere intellectual light.

The necessity for spiritual illumination before we can grasp spiritual truths is taught throughout the entire New Testament and it is altogether in accord with the teachings of the Psalms, the Proverbs and the Prophets. The New Testament draws a sharp line between the natural mind and the mind that has been touched by divine fire. When Peter made his good confession, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” our Lord replied, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”

The sum of what I am saying is that there is an illumination, divinely bestowed, without which theological truth is information and nothing more. While this illumination is never given apart from theology, it is entirely possible to have theology without the illumination!

The World Is Scared

Look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. LUKE 21:28

A fear-stricken church cannot help a scared world; and it needs to be said that surely a fear-ridden Christian has never examined his or her defense!

No one can blame humans for being afraid. Beyond the continuing times of crisis and terror and violence, God has also warned that the world is in a baptism of fire, sooner or later. God has declared this by the voice of all of the holy prophets since time began—there is no escaping it!

Bible-reading Christians should be the last persons on earth to give way to hysteria. We have been given a prophetic preview of all those things that are to come to pass upon the earth. Can anything take us unaware?

We who are in God’s secret place of safety must begin to talk and act like it! We, above all who dwell on the earth, should be calm, hopeful, buoyant and cheerful. We will never convince the scared world that there is peace and assurance at the cross if we continue to exhibit the same fears as those who make no profession of Christianity!

Lord, I pray that Your peace will show through my behavior today. Give me an opportunity to help someone who is dealing with fear or pain.