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Hold Fast What You Have

Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
Revelation 3:11

As those who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, and who have before us the prize of our calling on high of God in Christ Jesus, we are but little concerned with the rapid flitting by of the times and seasons. If it has any voice for us, it is only to remind us that the night is far spent, and the day is at hand; and that it behoves us to have our loins girt about, and our lights burning, in the prospect of the speedy return of our Lord.

One special aspect of our responsibility in view of this prospect is brought before us in the scripture at the head of this paper. It is found in the message to Philadelphia. Passing by the question now as to what constitutes Philadelphia — a question of ever-increasing importance, and which ere long, if the Lord will, may be fully discussed — attention may yet be directed to the fact that overcoming in this church is totally different from that in the other six. In the five preceding churches  -  with the exception perhaps of Smyrna — it is overcoming by separation, or preservation, from the evil in their respective spheres of responsibility. In Laodicea it is by getting out of one state into another; in a word, by acquisition of what is lacking. But overcoming in Philadelphia is simply maintaining — maintaining that which is already possessed. Thus, "Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh (i.e. by holding fast) "will I make a pillar in the temple of my God," etc. The encouragement to hold fast, the reader will mark, is the Lord's coming. "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast," etc.

Another thing is obvious. The need of the exhortation sprung and springs from the fact that there was a danger of losing the precious heritage which had been entrusted to them. Hence to retain the truth would involve conflict, as it has ever done all down the line of the history of the Church until the present moment, and as it will increasingly do until the Lord descends from heaven to gather His own into His presence for ever.

Will our readers therefore suffer the word of exhortation? The conviction has been forced upon us, and it is deepened daily, that the one important thing, the one incumbent responsibility at the present moment, is to "hold that fast which we have." With some — as the saints in Sardis for example — the first duty is to recover that which they have lost; for pulpits from which once were proclaimed the doctrines of grace and the all-sufficiency of the Scriptures are now filled, in many cases, with the advocates of a rationalistic infidelity or of Romish superstitions. Many, on the other hand, and ourselves amongst the number, can thank God that they have hitherto been preserved from the desolating influences of evil doctrine. Our danger is of a subtler kind. It is not open enemies that we have to dread; every true soldier of the faith delights in warfare with such. Our foes are rather they of our own household — foes therefore in the garb of friends — those who stand by and permit the truth to be frittered away. It cannot indeed be denied that truths which, when first recovered and proclaimed, were used of God to rouse thousands of His people out of their slumbers, and which encouraged many to forsake all they held dear for the joy of fuller communion with the mind of the Lord, and for the still deeper joy of a more intimate knowledge of Himself, are now either loosely held — held in a way that involves no reproach, no cross — or being tacitly surrendered.

If this tendency increases, the question of Pilate may again be heard, "What is truth?" The truth is Christ, every part of it being but a ray of the glory that shines from His glorified face at the right hand of God. To hold fast that which we have therefore is to hold fast the truth of all that He is in His person, in His work, in His union with His people, in His headship of the body, in all the relationships into which He, in grace, has entered with His own in all the offices which He condescends to fill, and, in a word, in all His divine unfoldings in the precepts He has given to His people. Well then may He challenge us to hold that fast which we have, because it is in reality fidelity to Himself which is thus enjoined. Who of us is willing, by the grace of God, to respond to His appeal? To do so must, we again remind you, involve conflict. Take, for example, the truest Philadelphian the Church has ever seen  -  the apostle Paul. Was there ever a moment in his history after his conversion when he could rest from warfare, and from warfare for the truth with those who bore the name of Christ equally with himself? At Antioch he was utterly alone: Barnabas for the moment forsook him, and Peter was the chief adversary, so that Paul had to withstand him to the face. (Galations 2) What a temptation it must have been to a tender heart like that of Paul's to have yielded the point in charity for the sake of peace! If he had, what would have been the consequence? This we cannot tell; but it is certain that at that moment the maintenance of the truth of God depended entirely on the fidelity of Paul. He was the only one in that Church at Antioch who held that fast which he had; and if he had let the standard fall, what other hand was there to grasp, and to raise it aloft once again, and to lead on to victory? Nor is this a solitary example. Again and again, in times of danger and controversy, he is found alone, and solely because he would not, through the mercy of God, sacrifice one iota of the sacred deposit which the Lord Himself had committed to his charge. So now in proportion to our fidelity we shall be alone; and it may yet again become true, as the prophet declares, that he that departeth from evil will be accounted mad. (Isaaiah. 59:15, marginal rendering.)

Do we then advocate controversy? Nothing is more withering to the soul — for it is a deadly poison — than controversy, as usually understood. No; what we plead for is a full ministration of Christ, and faithfulness in the defence of the whole truth of Christ. But even if the truth is held and defended apart from Christ, it is of no value, rather an immense damage to the soul. Hence none but those who are walking in communion with a living Christ can bold that fast which they have, in the sense of this scripture; for no keenness of intellect, no argumentative power, will avail in this battle; nothing but the word of God wielded in the power of the Holy Ghost. On this account the exhortation is prefaced by the announcement, "Behold, I come quickly." The Lord would thus have His soldiers fight as momentarily expecting to see Him face to face. A hymn puts the question

"Shall we of the way be weary,
When we see the Master's face?"

In like manner, who could tire in the conflict for Christ and His truth, when our hearts are cheered and warmed by the expectation of being caught away from the midst of the strife to meet the Lord in the air?

One caution is necessary. If as the days grow darker, and the characteristics of the perilous times are more and more manifested, conflict for the truth should, as it must, become hotter and hotter, let us with all the more diligence keep our hearts. We must cherish constant and tender affection for all the saints of God, and this can only be done as long as our hearts are in communion with the heart of Christ. If conflict makes us hard or severe, we must unsparingly judge ourselves. Like Israel in the land under Joshua, after every battle we must return to Gilgal, so that in all our warfare only the weapons of the Spirit of God may be employed. (See 2 Corintians. 11:6.)

May the Lord Himself raise up and qualify many who shall be faithful standard-bearers for Him and His truth in this day of confusion and error! E. D.

Eward Dennet Christian Friend, vol. 9, 1883, p. 10.
Updated: 15 May 2016

 

What is the Kingdom of God?

What is the Kingdom of God?

Where does the confusion arise?

There is much confusion amongst Christians as to what the kingdom of God is. This mainly arises because the modern Church places no distinction between the covenants that relate only to Israel and those covenants that pertain to the church (they use replacement theology which is a false theology). In essence, these people also place the commencement of the new dispensation (that of the church age) at the white page in the Bible that separates Malachi from Matthew, when in fact the church age commenced in Acts chapter 2. God sent the Holy Spirit at the commencement of the age of grace (church age) in order to convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:7-11). The first event the Holy Spirit attended is described in Acts 2:

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:4

This is important to understand, because in the first half of Matthew (before chapter 13) Jesus speaks as the Messiah coming as King to the Nation of Israel, but the Nation of Israel rejects Him (says he is from Satan, that is, they blaspheme him), and eventually kills him at Calvary. Note that although at his place of death he was called the 'King of the Jews' (John 19:19), he had neither throne nor kingdom – this is still to come. Instead, at this time, Jesus Christ turns to the disciples and privately teaches them about the coming ages, where the gentiles, who believe, will be blessed, and along with Jews who put their faith in Yeshua, form the Church, which has Yeshua (Christ) as her head.

The church does not have a King, but High Priest

The events in Acts are not the commencement of the kingdom of God, but rather the start of the Church of God (Acts 20:28). Therefore, the simple answer to the question is, since the Kingdom of God is where the king is, or put another way, a kingdom has a throne, a king, a people, a land and it is where the king rules, and since Church does not have a throne, it cannot be the Kingdom of God, indeed, it cannot be a kingdom at all. However, we know that Jesus came as a prophet, speaking on behalf of God, both about current issues and future events (prophecies).

For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. John 12:49

Jesus Christ the Messiah will return as a judge at a future date, which we read in the Revelation, and which will usher in the Messianic Kingdom where Jesus will rule from His rightful throne in Zion (see Psalm 87 etc.). So what is he now? The answer – he is a priest, indeed a high priest. The book of Hebrews, in exquisite detail, shows that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is a priest, not of the order of Aaron, who could not take away the guilt of sin, but a priest of the order of Melchizedek:

As He also says in another place: "you are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek"; Hebrews 5:6

The Kingdom of God is not the Church, and Christ is not the King over the Church (although he is a King – in the same way Melchizedek was both king and priest), but at this time he is acting in his role as the great high priest:

Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. Hebrews 8:1-2

For a Christian this is an important truth: God sees us through the cross of Christ washed clean by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is our High Priest who is just and able to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), and is an advocate for us, for all times – because his work is complete.

And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. Hebrews 10:11-13

This does not mean Jesus is not King, for indeed he is surely King – but he has not established his Kingdom yet, for His people have rejected him. Note Paul's exclamation to Timothy;

[Christ Jesus] … He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords
1 Timothy 6:15 (See also Revelation 1:5 etc.)

Israel, however, was promised a King

Moses states that Israel would have a king when they got to the land of Canaan and possessed it:

"When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me'" Deuteronomy 17:14

his is a real king (Isaiah 9:6-7, Revelation 11:15 etc.), sitting on a real throne (Luke 1:32 etc.), who rules a real people (Leviticus 26:40-42, Daniel 7:14, Isaiah 2:3, Isaiah 10:20, Obadiah 17-21 etc.), that occupy a real land (Daniel 7:14, Zechariah 14:9), ruling by law (Isaiah 2:3, Zechariah 14:16-19 ); it is not, as many Christians suppose, a metaphor for something else.

So why isn't the Kingdom in place?

The reason there is no king in Israel, is because of Israel's corporate sin and rejection of their Messiah. In Scripture we see;

  • The coming kingdom was predicted by Isaiah (11:6-9)
  • The people sinned before God and abrogated their part in the covenant made at the time of Moses (Deuteronomy 28:15ff, Hosea 5)
  • The Kingdom was offered by the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:5-7)
  • The Kingdom was rejected along with its king (Matthew 12:24-36)
  • Kingdom was postponed (Matthew 13, Romans 9-12)

However, Jesus prophesised that there would be a king at a future time (Matthew 24:14; 25:31 plus many references in the Old Testament). And this king would be the Lord Jesus Christ, Yeshua the Messiah, whose kingdom will encompass the whole world, and whose throne will be in Jerusalem, and would last for ever.

At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of Jehovah, to Jerusalem; Jeremiah 3:17a

I will return again to My place Till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me." Hosea 5:15 (See also Hosea 6:1-3)

And Jehovah shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Jehovah, and his name one. Zechariah 14:9

In the meantime, God has established the Church (Matthew 16:18; 28:18-20 etc.) made up of men and women (of any nation) who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8

And He [The Christ] is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. Colossians 1:18

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

When will the kingdom be restored?

When Israel calls upon the name of God again, the Kingdom will be restored:

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.  Psalms 118:26 – see also Matthew 13:39

And it shall come to pass in all the land," Says the LORD, "That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, But one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; And each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.' " Zechariah 13:8-9

he actual timing of the establishment of the kingdom is explained in Revelation while all the characteristics of the throne and its King is discussed in many placed in the Old Testament.  In the Revelation we find the time-course of the tribulation laid out, although much of its details can be found in the Old Testament. The tribulation will bring about the preaching of the gospel (Matthew 24:14, Revelation 7:1-17), while God judges the earth, whereupon a certain number of people will be saved (Tribulation saints) and who are sealed. These sealed ones will proclaim the gospel in the Tribulation and therefore will fulfill Matthew 24:14.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14

he judgement rids the earth of those that hate God and those who rebel against God, while a remnant will turn to God. God then establishes His Kingdom, ruling over Israel and the nations – the Messianic Kingdom (sometimes called the Millennial Kingdom), which runs for 1000 years (see Revelation 19). This period is followed by the Everlasting Kingdom (Revelation 22).

David L Simon  (25 April 2016)
What is the Kingdom of God?

David L Simon
Updated: 26 Apr 2016

 

God moves in a mysterious way

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

William Cowper (1731-1800)
Updated: 17 Apr 2016

 

The issue of adding works to the doctrine of salvation

“Outside the doctrines related to the Person and work of Christ, there is no truth more far-reaching in its implications and no fact more to be defended than that salvation in all its limitless magnitude is secured, so far as human responsibility is concerned, by believing on Christ as Saviour. To this one requirement no other obligation may be added without violence to the Scriptures and total disruption of the essential doctrine of salvation by grace alone.

Only ignorance or reprehensible inattention to the structure of a right Soteriology will attempt to intrude some form of human works with its supposed merit into…the principle of…grace.”

Quoted from: Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. 3, Dallas Seminary Press, Dallas, TX, 1948, p. 371.

Jim McGowan Dispensationalism and the Nature of the Church: Are Repentance and Confession “Requirements” for Salvation?
Updated: 10 Apr 2016

 

Salvation is Through Faith Only (Sola Fide)

Salvation is Through Faith Only (Sola Fide)

Some Bible References for Consideration

Faith is to believe, to believe means:-

To trust, to have confidence in, to have reliance upon, to depend upon Jesus alone (God's promises) for one's eternal safe destiny of the soul.

pisteuō (ποιέω) "to believe," also "to be persuaded of," and hence, "to place confidence in, to trust," signifies, in this sense of the word, reliance upon, not mere credence. It is most frequent in the writings of the Apostle John, especially the Gospel. He does not use the noun (see below). For the Lord's first use of the verb, see John 1:50. Of the writers of the Gospels, Matthew uses the verb ten times, Mark ten, Luke nine, John ninety-nine. In Acts 5:14 the present participle of the verb is translated "believers." See COMMIT, INTRUST, TRUST.[1]

The Bible says at least 200 times that you can only be saved through faith, and faith alone

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not be afraid, Abram….And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness."
Genesis 15:1,6.

Note that salvation is open to everyone – it is to whoever believes

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." John 5:24

Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent." John 6:28-29

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. John 6:47

And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; John 16:8-9

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. John 20:30-31

And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Acts 16:30-31

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Romans 1:16

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Faith provides no merit to the believer – it is non-meritorious

Everything we do is unclean and what we do does no please God

But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. Isaiah 64:6

Our works, or the things we do cannot be credited as faith – a person earning a wage does not thank her or his employer for the 'gift' on payday.

"Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favour, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness." Romans 4:4-5

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

Faith gives God all the credit thus giving Him all the glory

I am the LORD, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another, Nor My praise to carved images. Isaiah 42:8

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Romans 3:27.

See also Ephesians 2:8-9

If we boast we are giving glory to one's self: faith gives glory to God

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Faith provides an offense of the gospel – it wounds pride, because the sinner finds he or her cannot approach God on his or her own terms.

And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision [symbolism for working for salvation], why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. Galatians 5:11

What to believe

Believe that Jesus Is the Son of God, that is Jesus is diety

Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins. John 8:24

Who is "He" – the I Am from Exodus 3:14, that is deity.

And He said to them, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. John 8:23

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. John 20:30-31

Believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again on the third day

For I delivered to you first of all [of first importance] that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

How not to believe

Believing is not merely an intellectual acceptance of a fact. It is trusting, accepting, having confidence in, and relying upon Jesus Christ. Note the following warning from James:

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! James 2:19. See also Matthew 8:28,29 (The demons not only knew Jesus was the Son of God, but that their time was short), Acts 19:15.

Points for Evangelising[2]

You are a sinner before a holy God

Bible: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23

The penalty for your sin is death

Bible: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Genesis 2:17

Bible: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

But: God in His infinite love provided His Son Jesus Christ who died for you and paid your sin penalty

Bible: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

But: You can be saved from hell by depending upon Jesus Christ alone to save you by believing that Jesus if the Son of God.

Bible: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God Ephesians 2:8

But: God wants you to know with absolute certainty that you are saved and have eternal life

Bible: These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. 1 John 5:13

Bible: "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." John 5:24

Bible: Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. John 6:47

[1] W. E. Vine (1940), Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Hendrickson, Nashville reprint, 411. (< http://www.menfak.no/bibelprog/vines?word=%AFt0000260 > (Accessed 5 March 2016)

David L Simon (5 March 2016)
\Doctrine\Salvation is through Faith only

David L Simon
Updated: 06 Mar 2016

 

Why Atonement is Unlimited

Why atonement is unlimited

A Bible Perspective

The atonement is the keystone of how God reconciles humans to himself. This he does by substituting Christ, His son, for each of us, for purpose of punishment of sin. This Christ did "once for all" (Romans 6:10, Hebrews 9:12, 10:10) by dying in our place (sin is punishable by death). There are some purporting to be Christians, and no doubt some are indeed saved, who state that the atonement of God is not sufficient for all people, but is limited to a certain select class. This is not true and is a lie. The proposition states that God is someone limited in his power to save people, and that the Bible is in error by indicating Christ came to save the whole world – both are not true. The limitation of the extent of salvation offered by God is caused by humans, not God. To be saved one needs to accept salvation, through faith – believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31). This is no different from a life-saver extending an arm of salvation to a drowning victim, who rejects it (compare with Revelation 3:20). The victim drowns, but the life-saver is not at fault.

The greatest mistake by those who hold to limited atonement is the failure to read Scripture as each author intended, and more than that, as the Holy Spirit requires. This is underpinned by the failure to read each word in the context in which it was placed. The foremost and most important rule in reading the Bible is discerning the context of each and every word. This is no place to go into the simple science of reading the Bible but suffice to point out that this rule is the basis of most, if not all, languages. Humans everywhere automatically discern the context of each word in a message in order to interpret the message. English readers should know this better than most since a single word in English can have multiple, in deed, in some cases 10's of meanings, especially in the spoken word, from which only the context can be used discern the correct meaning. For example, take the word "run" in this meaningless sentence. A person who runs a bus company takes her dog for a run each morning, while leaving her computer running, before deciding upon the most profitable bus run.

The same goes for the word "world" in the Bible. It can mean the whole planet and all that is in it, or it can mean all the people we know about. Deniers of Christ's unlimited atonement turn to John 12:19 and state the verse indicates the world means a subset of the world's population, because, the entire world did not go after Jesus, therefore, in every other place, the meaning is a subset of the world. They miss the context, in particular the tone of the remark. The Pharisees were very annoyed that Jesus had raised Lazarus who was telling everyone about what Jesus had done. By Lazarus telling people about his ordeal, many were following Jesus and not the Pharisees, and their egos were being somewhat squashed. In much annoyance, and probably in anger, they use hyperbole:[1] and stated; "You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world [my emphasis] has gone after Him!" (John 12:19). We all do this – we use hyperbole to get a point across, and like in this case the meaning is clear – we are not lying, just using words to emphasise a point – the context is clear and we are deluding no one.  (Taking this lunacy to the full extent means that God only created a bit of the universe, not all of it – but then again the apostate Christian does not even believe God created the world! The earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. Psalms 24:1).

Other portions of the Bible use the word 'world' to mean every person. One such verse we all should know:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17

The word "world" (kosmos in Greek) is used four times in these two verses. The context indicates only one legitimate meaning; the verse refers to the whole world and its entire population. Nowhere here and elsewhere when speaking of the salvation of Christ is Christ's salvation limited to only some people. There no scientific reason at all to suppose the writer, quoting Jesus, wants to confer the notion that God loved only part of the world, for whom Jesus was sent to save, and that Jesus came only to save part of the world, and only not condemn part of the world, and that only part of the word would be saved. Such a meaning is utter nonsense. In the science of understanding the meaning of a message, both theology and secular, this error is called 'illegitimate totality transfer'[2], which simply means the words have been taken out of context, and out of context means no context, thus voiding any meaning of the words.

Why do we know that the extent of Atonement is unlimited? The following Bible verses help humans understand the power of God's grace.

John in his first letter clearly states that not only is the propitiation of Christ for our sins, but also for the whole world. Thus he states we need to ponder not our own individual self, but the fact that God's efficacy is great enough for everyone in the world. The trouble is most reject the gospel and many have not heard the gospel.

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.  1 John 2:2

καὶ αὐτὸς ἱλασμός ἐστι περὶ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, οὐπερὶ τῶν ἡμετέρων δὲ μόνον, ἀλλὰκαὶ περὶ ὅλου του ͂κόσμου

Christ is the savour of all men; those that believe avail themselves of this salvation, others will, on death find it too late. That is, there are groups of people, (1)  all people and these all are savable and (2) are those that are saved.

For to this end we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10

Since all men are savable, and thus salvation is open to every single person, evangelists need to preach to everyone the truth that God commands every person to repent.

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent Acts 17:30

The writer to the Hebrews ensures the reader understands that Christ, who is superior to man, and in particular Aaron, died for everyone, not a certain class or group.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9

Peter clearly points out that salvation is for everyone, but those that deny Christ will be destroyed,

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 Peter 2:1

John writes a gospel to demonstrate, and prove, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (John 20:31). He writes that the greatest prophet that ever lived (Luke 7:28), John the Baptist, when he saw Jesus Christ, announced to the that this person, Jesus, was the Messiah, the Lamb of God who was here to take away the sin of the world – all of it, not part of it.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  John 1:29

John 3:16 is known to all Christians –as remarked above, there is not one valid reason to limit the verse to some subclass of people – God loved the whole world.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17

Even in the early days of Jesus' ministry, the people came to know that Christ was the Saviour of the whole world, not just of the Jews. In John 4:42, Jesus is speaking to unsaved and aliens of Israel, the Samaritans, who learn that Jesus as much more than just a prophet of Israel.

Then they [Samaritans] said to the woman, "Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world." John 4:42

The world cannot provide the substance to keep us alive – for we all die, yet the bread of heaven, which is Jesus, can sustain us for ever. For it is in the atoning blood of Jesus we find eternal life, for he was to give his life – here emphasising physical death, which he did and which he did by the offering up of his body, making himself an offering, that is a propitiatory sacrifice for sin.

I [Jesus Christ] am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."  John 6:51

Jesus, discussing his impending death and its significance states that the purpose of his atoning death is to draw all peoples to himself, not some subset or only some elected class.

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." John 12:32

Since God wants to draw all peoples to himself, he tells us the method of acquiring that salvation – it is through faith, as it always had been. Anyone – not just some subset – who hears the gospel, will be saved.

And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. John 12:47

Christ's death on the cross was to deal with sin that alienated mankind from himself. Christ's dying was for the purpose of reconciling the world to Himself – not just some elected class.

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19

Timothy, a pastor of a gentile church in Ephesus is reminded on more than one occasion that the gospel is for all people. Paul reminds Timothy that God desires all men to be saved – this refutes the lie that God created some men for the sole purpose of destruction. All humans have a choice – obey God or disobey God. It is apostasy, and indeed blasphemy, to state that God on one hand desires all people to be saved, but on the other hand, he only offers salvation to some people – for this would make God a liar, which cannot be (Titus 1:2).

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time 1 Timothy 2:4-6

Likewise, Titus was in charge of a gentile church, and Paul reminds Titus that salvation is placed in front of all men (anthropos, meaning all humans), not some subset.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men Titus 2:11

In summary, atonement, which means substitution (see Isaiah 53:3-6), is the basis of the gospel. The atonement death of Jesus Christ, who shed his blood on the cross of Calvary, is available to all people. For this reason we must preach to all people (Luke 24:46, 47) in order that they may come to the saving knowledge of Christ.

[1] Hyperbole is simply the use of over-exaggeration for the purpose of creating a strong emphasis or impression, or an unforgettable remark; it is not intended to be taken literally. Hyperbole often appears in secular literature and the Bible. For example: "the bag weighed a tonne". The Hebrews were very good at it: Also the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones 2 Chronicles 1:15b

[2] Illegitimate totality transfer assumes that all the uses that occur at a given time apply in any given instance. This fallacy is derived from the idea that the meaning of a word in a particular context is much broader than the context itself allows and may entail the entire range of a word's meaning. Put another way, this fallacy "assumes that a word carries all of its senses in any one passage" (Darrell Bock, in Introducing NT Interpretation, p. 110).

David L Simon 21 February 2016
\Doctrine\Why atonement is unlimited

David L Simon
Updated: 21 Feb 2016

 

Election and Free Will - What the Bible Says

Election vs Free Will

Some Bible References for Consideration

Main Ideas

The bible allows free will but in His sovereignty, God exercises election, that is, the Bible expresses both election and free will.

Election in terms of salvation can only be viewed by the saved person. An unsaved person has no consciousness of it.

Election is an action of God towards humans, while free will is an action of humans.

Election occurred in the past and relates to how a saved person obtains the position he or she finds his or her self.

Election does not necessarily relate to salvation – it however does relate to God's eternal purpose.

Election

Election is not all about salvation

Israel was elected, but not all of Israel will be saved.

Deuteronomy 4:37

And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power.

Romans 9:6

But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel

But the choice God made had nothing to do with any quality or quantity found in Abraham or his decedents

Deuteronomy 7:7

The LORD did not set His love on you [Israel] nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples

2. Cyrus was chosen by God some 200 years before he was born to bring the exiled people of God back to their promised land. There is no evidence he was saved, indeed, the contrary, for Isaiah 45:4 states that "you have not known me". See also Ezra 1:1-3.

Isaiah 45:1-4

"Thus says the LORD to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held-- To subdue nations before him And loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut: 'I will go before you And make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze And cut the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the LORD, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant's sake, And Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me.

3. Christ was chosen (elected) by His Father to bring justice to the Gentiles

Isaiah 42:1

Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.

4. During the tribulation there will be elect people. This understanding is important, as too many seem to believe election only pertains to the church (during the tribulation the Church is with God – it does not suffer judgement). Israel will evangelise the world as commanded in Matthew 28:28 (Revelation 7:3-8), and some will be saved – these form the elect of the tribulation mentioned in Matthew 24

Matthew 24:22

And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.

5. Church believers have been elected, and are called the 'elect of God'.

Colossians 3:12

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;

Titus 1:1

Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness

The apostle John writes to a Christian lady in order to warn Christians against receiving false doctrine, in particular doctrine that does not respect the person of Christ as coming in the flesh (2 John 1:7).

2 John 1:1

The Elder, To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth

 

Read More

Election cannot be understood separately from the entire character of God

The Bible does not speak of election in isolation to the character of God. Indeed it can be said that election is in harmony with God's character and always connected to it. For this reason we need to rest in who He is (Psalm 37:7). Election of God involves at least the following:

God's will

God's will is His own; it is far beyond anything we can comprehend.

Ephesians 1:5

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will

Isaiah 55:8-9

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Love

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Glory

Election is for the sake of God to demonstrate His glory – it cannot be separated from this.

Ephesians 1:4-5,11

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, …

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.

Jude 1:24-25

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.

God's Eternal Purpose

The destination of a saved person is embodied in the inheritance provided by the Father in Christ, which has been worked out before the world was created. God's purpose was within the counsels of His will – His good pleasure, not some evil.

Ephesians 1:11

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will

God's desire that all be saved

Unlike the view of extremists in this topic, the Bible is clear that God wants everyone to be saved, but since not everyone will accept him, some will be lost (John 1:11).

1 Timothy 2:3-4

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Election and the Divine Sovereignty of God

Election preempts

Election is an action ahead of time – that is, it preempts and therefore one who is elected is preemptorally chosen.

Election is unconditional

God does not place a condition on election, that is, it is not true to say that if you do something (good) God will elect you for an everlasting inheritance (or anything else). It is faith that allows righteousness to be imputed not works.

Election comes from the Father

No one can come to the Father unless the Father first draws him. Note here the 'to draw' is the same word used when a net is taken aboard a boat – it's drawing against a resistance. For Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).

John 6:44

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws (ἑλκύω to drag) him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:65

And he [Jesus] said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

A practical example of this is given in a few verses further on in John chapter six, in relation to the 12 disciples, which Jesus had chosen, although from the disciple's point of view they had chosen to leave their nets (Matthew 4:20; Mark 1:18). In each case Jesus gave the invitation "come follow me" (Matthew 4:19), and each on his own volition followed Jesus. However, from Jesus' view point he had chosen them:

John 15:16

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you

John 6:70

Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

Simon Peter follows Christ, at Jesus' invitation, but it is not Simon Peter's own intellect that worked out the Jesus is the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16), but rather the Father who gave him this knowledge. Humans do not have innate knowledge of God, but God can elect to provide the knowledge to an individual. Jesus askes Simon Peter a question and gets the right answer – a deep and meaningful answer:

Matthew 16:15-16

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

However, Jesus points out this knowledge if not of Peter's doing but of the Father.

Matthew 16:17

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Election pertains to those who are saved

Those that believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are those that are elected (ordained).

Acts 13:48

And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained [lit. arranged] to eternal life believed.

Lydia was saved and become a useful vessel for Christ in the church at Thyatira, but it was not Lydia that opened her heart to the gospel, but the Father who opened it. This shows the pattern of salvation as Jesus spoke about in John 6:44: The Word is preached -> the Word is heard -> God opens the heart -> the person choses to believe -> the person is saved.

Acts 16:14

And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

The purpose of election is conforming to God's will

The process of election is spelt out by the Apostle Paul in Romans. Many use this verse to abrogate their responsibility to preach the Word. They state that those God "foreknew" are saved, therefore, there is no need to hear to gospel, therefore there is no need to teach or preach the gospel, yet Scripture (Romans 10:15, 1 Corinthians 1:17, 2 Timothy 4:2 etc.) is adamant that the gospel must be preached so it can heard, else Lydia (Acts 16;14) would not have been saved, nor the jailer in Acts (Acts 16:30,31). Humans have a responsibility – see below; Romans 8:29-30 sets out the process of being glorified, it does not negate our free will, merely highlights it.

Romans 8:29-30

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Election's purpose is for good works

Ephesians 2:10 (JND)

 For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has before prepared that we should walk in them.

Election is the prerogative of God

Romans chapter 9 sets out the sovereignty of God in relation to election. It tells of the counter-cultural action of God that set a first-born aside, to be ruled by the second born – this was God's prerogative.

Romans 9:11-12 (JND)

The children [Esau and Jacob] indeed being not yet born, or having done anything good or worthless (that the purpose of God according to election might abide, not of works, but of him that calls), it was said to her [Rachel, their mother], The greater shall serve the less.

Any objection to this view point, in particular those of a culture where the firstborn is particularly blessed, is answered by Paul thus, ending with a rhetorical but obvious question:

Romans 9:18-20

Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?" But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?"

Election pertains to Individuals

Jeremiah

Jeremiah 1:4-5

Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations."

Paul

It is interesting to note that Paul did not have a choice about who he preached the gospel to: it was the Gentiles, but included kings and the Jews. We are saved for a purposed, and that purposed is not ours but rather God's (Ephesians 2:10).

Galatians 1:15, 16

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood

Acts 9:15-16

But the Lord said [the Apostle Peter] to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."

Rufus and others

Romans 16:13

Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.

A lady

2 John 1:1

The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth,

Groups

Disciples

John 15:16

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you

Messianic Jews

1 Peter 1:1-2

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.

Election that means rejection

Judas

Judas was rejected by God and is spoken of by Jesus in the terms of election, for the purpose of ensuring people know that Christ is the Son of God (the purpose of John's gospel)

John 13:18-19

I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, 'He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.' I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.

Pharaoh

Pharaoh rejected God six times (the number of man) before God rejected him, and hardened his heart – see Exodus chapter 8-11.

Exodus 11:9-10

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt." Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, and the LORD hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.

Romans 9:22

What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,

Israel who reject Christ

1 Peter 2:7-8

So the honour is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone," and "A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

Free Will or the responsibility of Humans

Humans are created in God's image or His likeness

All people are created after the image of God; we are not exactly like God, for we are not God, and furthermore we have fallen, but we have the characteristics of Adam, the first to be made in God's image. Some like to suggest that this ceased with the fall but God did not remake Adam, and even in New Testament times men of God understood people were made in the likeness of God – James 3:9.

Genesis 1:26-27

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Genesis 9:6

"Whoever sheds man's blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.

James 3:9

Therewith bless we the Lord and Father, and therewith curse we men made after the likeness of God.

Humans must make choices

God placed the tree of knowledge of good and evil into the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9) in order for man, created in God's image, to have the ability to carry out certain functions that God created in each, which would not otherwise have been exercised, noting that each person was made after God's own image (Genesis 1:26,27; Genesis 5:23 etc). That function was to be able to make a choice to rebel against God. If there was no method for man to be able to rebel against God there would be no method for God to demonstrate the magnitude of His love in showing grace to humans. Humans from the beginning could choose to obey or rebel against God.

Humans need to do something to be saved – they must believe

It is very obvious that humans have a choice of believing or not believing in God. Abraham was certainly chosen by God, but without believing, righteousness could not be imputed to him.

Genesis 15:6

And he [Abram] believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

Romans 4:16,22

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all

He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."

The foundation of salvation is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus clearly teaches that it is not from our earthy bodies or own efforts that we can be saved: we are required to be born again, but to be reborn we need to believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

In practical terms a person seeking salvation only needs to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and he or she shall be saved.

Acts 16:30-31

And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."

Due to our free well we have a choice of repenting or continuing in sin, and for this reason, Christ orders his disciples to preach repentance and forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:47).

Acts 17:30

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent

The Bible Teaches Election and Free Will

Jesus Christ was elected to be killed by the Jews for the sake of all, but it was Christ's free will that made the choice to obey his Father and it was purposed that the Jews would kill the Messiah.

John 6:38

For I [Jesus Christ] have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

Here we have the purpose of God who elected that the Christ would die at the hands of wicked men, but it was the choice of men to kill this innocent man, the Son of God.

Acts 2:23

This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

Isaiah 53:10

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.

The wife is chosen by the husband, but the woman has a choice: accept or reject:

Ephesians 5:23

For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body.

Rejecting False Teaching

Regeneration is not needed for faith

Some contend that faith is elected and follows regeneration hence making the need for the gospel of no effect. It places the horse before the cart. Scripture reflects the councils and economy of God. It is consistent from beginning to end. God has not changed His mind: faith has ALWAYS been required for righteousness to be imputed (Read Romans 9 -12). The Scriptures never state or even intimate that regeneration is required for faith. The outline that Jesus provides in John chapter three is clear and adequate to demonstrate that new birth (regeneration) follows believing in the only begotten Son of God.

Faith is not a gift, but a right that can be exercised by any person

Some take Ephesians 2:8-9 as evidence that faith is a gift of God, hence elected to a person, negating the need for free will (or the gospel to be preached).

Ephesians 2:8-9

For ye are saved by grace, through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is God's gift: not on the principle of works, that no one might boast.

This attitude arises from failing to read the verses correctly – God chose Greek as the vehicle to deliver the gospel because it is such an extraordinary rich language but very precise in its construct. Words, especially verbs and nouns have particular characteristics in the Greek that is poorly, if at all, reflected in English. These characteristics ensure that every verb is matched exactly to the noun on which the action is taking place or has taken place. In Ephesians 2:8,9 faith is not the gift, but salvation is. This aligns with all of Scripture – we cannot save ourselves and we cannot work for our salvation but we can accept the gift of salvation, provided as an unmerited favour (which is what grace means) from God the Father, through the Lord Jesus Christ. For the Greek scholars in this verse 'faith' is a noun "πίστις which is provided in the feminine genitive singular form (πιστεως), where 'gift' also a noun "δῶρον" is provided in as the neuter nominative singular form (δωρον) (the nominative names the main topic of this sentence – gift). The verb is 'saved' "σώζω" in the perfect participle middle (or passive) neuter masculine plural. The issue surrounds the word "this" (τοῦτο) which is a neuter (singular) pronoun, and working out to which noun is it referring – faith or grace. Bill Mounce clearly explains the rule needed to decide what the antecedent is (Antecedents and Faith (Eph 2:8-9))[1]. He writes "The answer is to know a little Greek! When Greek wants to refer back to a general though, perhaps a phrase, the pronoun can be in the neuter. 'This is not of yourselves' does not refer specifically to πίστεως but rather to the entire salvific process, of which faith obviously is a part. It is the entire salvific process that is God's gracious gift and is not part of our own doing. It is a gift." Grace (dative) is the cause of our salvation, whereby faith is the means. Isaiah is an example that testifies to this fact.

Further information

Landmarks and Stumblingblocks: The Doctrine of Election Misplaced. C. H. Mackintosh.

 

[1] William Mounce October 2011 "Bill Mounce's Blog" https://billmounce.com/blog/antecedents-and-faith-eph-2-8-9 Accessed 30 January 2016

David L Simon  (31 January 2016)
Doctrine\Election and Free Will - What the Bible Says

David L Simon
Updated: 31 Jan 2016

 

Why Did Jesus Come?

Christmas is the time to demonstrate the Messiah came into this world, and the purpose of His coming. In essence Christmas must not stop at the birth of Jesus because Christ came for a specific, pre-planned purpose.

1. The Messiah was Sent by His Father

Christ came willingly with the purpose of saving the world. When asked as to whether Jesus was the Christ by the Samaritan woman by the well (John 4:29), Jesus responds to his disciples who are concerned about food, thus: "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." (John 4:34). Christ was sent into the world (John 20:21) to make atonement for our sins (1 John 4:10).

Later when asked about his authority to teach, since it was apparent he had not received any earthly credentials, he responds: "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me." (John 7:16). His authority came from the father: "For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak." (John 12:49).

A number of times Jesus alludes to the fact that if he is accepted, then that one is accepting his Father, God, who sent him (Matt 10:40, Mark 9:37, Luke 9:48). Indeed the one who believes in the Son – Jesus Christ, the Messiah, believe in the one who sent him – the Father (John 12:44).
The Gospel of John indicates 24 times that Jesus was sent by the Father. Most pointedly he states he was sent to do the work of the Father (John 9:4), which includes speaking the words of the Father. Indeed Christ states he did not speak his own words, but those of the Father: For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. (John 12:49).

Furthermore, the son was sent for a pre-planned purpose. Paul in the Letter to the Ephesians speaks of the gospel as a mystery (ie a thing hidden), which was made known to the world, which he, God, had "purposed himself" (Ephesians 1:9). In other words, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit had replanned exactly what was to happen, in particular the roles of each of the Godhead along with the timing of the revelation of how God was going to save His people. Therefore, Christ came with a purpose – to save the lost (Luke 19:10).

2. The Messiah Was Sent to Deal with a Helpless People

We are reminded in Roman 6:6 that humans were utterly helpless in regard their salvation – a great gulf exists between God and man, and indeed, we were alienated from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18), having no hope (Ephesians 2:12). For when we were still without strength (ἀσθενής meaning feeble, impotent, sick, translated 'powerless' by JB Phillips), in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)

The Roman's verse indicates we all miss the mark and cannot ever hit it demonstrating the sinfulness of sin – God hates every false way (Psalm 118:7, Proverbs 6:16). Hate is a very powerful word – and God hates sin, which oppresses us. But God did not leave humans to our own devices. He understood that we were oppressed by sin (Luke 4:18) from which we are incapable of escaping. Isaiah states of the Messiah "Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke?" (Isaiah 58:6). The oppression of sin seems to go unnoticed by humans, although we live in a 24 hour media circus – with each evil act comprehensively and immediately reported, until the most evil acts becomes benign – then they fade from our consciousness. Why is it after some many decades is domestic violence not a thing of the past? Why do we see road rage, angry drunken people kill and maim, adults exploit young children, men exploit women for their sexual gratitude – and all this is in a civilized society, not the backblocks of Syria of Libya? Because all people are enslaved to sin and the only one that can break the chains of sin is Jesus Christ.

Paul puts it thus: "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 5:6). This means that Christ came at the right time, and he came to deal with weak and helpless people – Jesus did not came to save the righteous but the sinners (Luke 5:32).

3. Jesus came because He is the Saviour.

Christ came to save (Luke 19:10), because he was able to: This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15). To this end we have witnesses – John the apostle wrote:  "And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Saviour of the world." (1 John 4:14). It was only the Messiah that was able to appease the Father, and offer a sacrifice that would pay the entire debt of sin of each man and woman who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus came to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:43). That is, Jesus (Yeshua) the Messiah came to make intercession for the transgressors – those that sinned (Isaiah 54). For God laid the iniquity of us all upon him, which he bore on the cross at Calvary: "He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." (Hebrews 9:26b). Indeed those saved have been bought at a price, as the Apostle Paul states: "For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." (1 Corinthians 6:20).

Why did Jesus Not Come?

1. Jesus did not come to call the righteous (Luke 5:32). Those not sick do not need a doctor, but those that are, require one that is competent and able to heal (Luke 5:31).

2. Jesus did not come to condemn or judge the world (John 12:47) – he came to save the world (John 8:16). He did come however to judge sin – to show how sinful sin was. He did this by fulfilling the law which shows the sinfulness of sin (Romans 7:13), and in his death he demonstrated the magnitude of holiness showing up the sinfulness of mankind.

3. He did not come to abolish the law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17).

4. He did not come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28. Mark 10:43-45) – he came to serve his Father, which he did with distinction.

This message was inspired by Alistair Begg who preached on this subject on 29 December 2015 – see < https://www.truthforlife.org/resources/sermon/why-did-jesus-come/ > (Accessed 3 January 2015)

David L Simon Reference
Updated: 03 Jan 2016

 

What is the Cross of Christ all About?

The deepest note of the Cross is not what our Lord suffered as seeing the sin and degradation of men, great as that was, but what He suffered in His own person at the hands of a holy God when, to accomplish propitiation (which means "God, be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18: 13) ed.), "His soul" was made "an offering for sin." He saw indeed how men opposed the light He brought and ruined themselves, but far beyond that. He "poured out His soul unto death. He was numbered with the transgressors and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." THAT IS THE CROSS.

F B Hole Scripture Truth, 1916, Vol. 8.
Updated: 02 May 2014

 

With Harps and With Viols

With harps and with viols,
there stand a great throng
in the presence of Jesus,
and sing this new song:

Refrain:
Unto him who hath loved us
and washed us from sin,
unto him be the glory forever. Amen.

All these once were sinners,
defiled in his sight,
now arrayed in pure garments
in praise they unite: [Refrain)

He maketh the rebel
a priest and a king,
He hath bought us and taught us
this new song to sing: [Refrain]

How helpless and hopeless
we sinners had been,
If he never had loved us
till cleansed from our sin: [Refrain]

Aloud in his praises
our voices shall ring,
so that others believing,
this new song shall sing: [Refrain]

Arthur T Pierson (1837 - 1911)
Updated: 21 Feb 2016

 

But now is Christ risen from the dead

"But now is Christ risen from the dead."—1 Corinthians 15:20.

The whole system of Christianity rests upon the fact that "Christ is risen from the dead;" for, "If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain: ye are yet in your sins." The divinity of Christ finds its surest proof in His resurrection, since He was "Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." It would not be unreasonable to doubt His Deity if He had not risen. Moreover, Christ's sovereignty depends upon His resurrection, "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living." Again, our justification, that choice blessing of the covenant, is linked with Christ's triumphant victory over death and the grave; for "He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." Nay, more, our very regeneration is connected with His resurrection, for we are "Begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." And most certainly our ultimate resurrection rests here, for, "If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." If Christ be not risen, then shall we not rise; but if He be risen then they who are asleep in Christ have not perished, but in their flesh shall surely behold their God. Thus, the silver thread of resurrection runs through all the believer's blessings, from his regeneration onwards to his eternal glory, and binds them together. How important then will this glorious fact be in his estimation, and how will he rejoice that beyond a doubt it is established, that "now is Christ risen from the dead."

"The promise is fulfill'd,
Redemption's work is done,
Justice with mercy's reconciled,
For God has raised His Son."

C H Spurgeon Morning by Morning - January
Updated: 05 Apr 2015

 

Contact the author

If you find a grammatical error, spelling error, broken hyperlink or some other error on these pages please contact me mentioning the page title and location.


Updated: 08 Jun 2015

 

Using this website

The weakness of any Christian website is the failure of the author to truly know the mind of God - his weakness due to sin (and there will be weaknesses) can always be revealed if checked against the Bible. Therefore, it is urged that anyone using this web site must check the information against the Holy Scriptures - for the test of any such information, by any person, is against the Canon. For this reason the Canon is called simply that - deriving its name from 'cane' meaning measuring stick. Even the early Christians checked what the Apostle Paul had spoken against Scripture in order to test its veracity. You need to do the same.

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11 (NIV)

Furthermore, we must test all things:

Test [prove] all things; hold fast what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:22


Updated: 11 Jan 2015

 

What's in the title of this website

The heading comes from John 3:16, perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible. It indicates that salvation is by faith and not by works. That is, one cannot ever achieve rightness before God by one's own effort. What one cannot forget is the rest of the text - John 3:16 does not stand alone:

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

And this is the condemnation, that light [Jesus Christ] is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.


Updated: 16 Apr 2011

 

Bibles used in this website

KJV = King James Version of the Bible
NIV = New International Version of the Bible original work copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
NKJV = New King James Version original work copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc

ESV = The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Others used

JND = New Translation by John Nelson Darby (1890)
Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (Literal, Textus Receptus, King James Version), Baker Books, Michigan, 1980
Strong's = Strong's Concordance, Hebrew and Greek Lexicon (either Riverside Book and Bible House, or an on-line version)


Updated: 16 Apr 2011