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The Wednesday Word: Did Jesus put God First?

Jesus loved God’s Law with a passion and upheld it at every turnaround. When asked about the greatest commandment, He affirmed that it was to love God with all the heart and mind (Matthew 22:36-39; Luke 10:26-28). According to Christ, there could be no competition and no rivals when it came to following and loving the Father.

But then Jesus loses the plot … or does He? He begins to teach that we should follow Him with the same kind of loyalty we give to God. Listen to Him and consider if these are the words of a good, moral man:

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37).

“Whosoever of you that forsakes not all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

According to Jesus, if we love our families more than we love Him, we are not worthy of Him, and if anything claims our affection and keeps us from following Him, we are disqualified as disciples.

This is strange, for remember, it was prophesied in Isaiah 42:21 that Christ would magnify God’s Law and make it honourable. However, it sounds like He is doing the very opposite. In fact, it seems He’s setting Himself up as a rival to God for He’s demanding first place. A good man would encourage people to love and follow God first and foremost! Jesus, however, by requiring absolute loyalty to Himself blocks the way for us to keep the great commandment. He’s demanding the same type of loyalty and love that only God should have.

Then He dares to say,

“If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

But what about God’s commandment to love Him with all? Christ is now demanding we keep His law as a sign of love. This surely is strange, for Christ said,

“Think not that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets; I have come not to destroy (them) but to fulfil (them)¨(Matthew 5:17).

How can Christ claim that He is there to fulfil God’s Law, and yet show such apparent disregard for it? If He loved the Law, then he would want to establish it and not take people away from it!

Furthermore, He says,

“He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father¨(John 14:22).

What? Can this be right? We know that Jesus believed the great commandment about loving God with all, but now He implies that we should love Himself above all.

Furthermore, God, according to Jesus, approves of this double-mindedness, for, He says, if we love Him, the Father will love us! Has the Father changed? Is the great commandment to ‘love God with all’ still in force? It certainly looks as if Jesus has overthrown it and usurped the position that only God should hold. Can these be the actions of a good religious teacher? Could a good moral man set himself up to rival God for the love He receives from mankind? Of course not! Any mere man who taught like that should be rejected and denounced as an evil worker.

So was Jesus an evil worker? The only conclusion is that —yes indeed He was … if indeed he wasn’t God. But rather than show He was evil, these passages actually demonstrate that He was God in human flesh. We should love God with all, and that’s why it’s perfectly fine to love Jesus with everything. Our complete loyalty belongs to God, so it’s perfectly fine to be totally loyal to Jesus. We have no other God but Yahweh, so when we put Christ Jesus first we are on good gospel ground for Christ is Yahweh in human flesh appearing!

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com   

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XXI- That it precludes a sincere offer of the Gospel to the non-elect

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter XXI

That It Precludes A Sincere Offer Of The Gospel To The Non-elect

1. The Same Objection Applies Against God’s Foreknowledge. 2. The Offer Is Sincerely Made.

1. THE SAME OBJECTION APPLIES AGAINST GOD’S FOREKNOWLEDGE

Although the Gospel is offered to many who will not, and who for subjective reasons cannot, accept, it is, nevertheless, sincerely offered to all. The objection so strenuously urged on some occasions by Arminians, to the effect that if the doctrine of Predestination is true the Gospel cannot be sincerely offered to the non-elect, should be sufficiently answered by the fact that it bears with equal force against the doctrine of God’s Foreknowledge. We might ask, How can the offer of salvation be sincerely made to those who God foreknows will despise and reject it, especially when their guilt and condemnation will only be increased by their refusal? Arminians admit that God knows beforehand who will accept and who will reject the message; yet they know themselves to be under a divine command to preach to all men, and they do not feel that they act insincerely in doing so.

The difficulty, however, in both cases is purely subjective, and is due to our limited knowledge and to our inability to comprehend the ways of God, which are past finding out. We do know that the Judge of all the earth will do right, and we trust Him even though our feeble reason cannot always follow His ways. We know definitely that abundant provision has been made for all who will come, and that every one who sincerely accepts will be saved. From Christ’s own lips we have a parable which illustrates the love of God for His children. The father saw the returning prodigal when he was still a great way off, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the welcome given to this prodigal God is willing to give to any prodigal.

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

The Wednesday Word: Our Defender and Judge

January 15, 2020 5 comments

In the New Testament,

Repentance is mentioned 70 times;

Baptism is mentioned at most 20 times;

The New Birth is mentioned 9 times;

The ‘Lord’s Supper’ is mentioned 6 times;

But …

The Second Coming of Christ is mentioned no less than 318 times!

Mark it down, Jesus is coming back! In fact, one verse in every 25 verses throughout the New Testament, from Matthew to Revelation, points to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Listen to this, it is appointed once to die. And after death? The Judgment (see Hebrews 9:27).

Now, I´m not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I can tell the future. It´s the Judgment!!! That´s mankind’s destiny. However, there is no need for the Lord’s people to fear this event. The good news is that the blood of Christ has already settled all charges against us (John 1:29; Hebrews 9:26). The blood of Christ, God incarnate, has doused the flames of Hell for God´s elect.

In addition to that, our lawyer, Christ Jesus, is our Last Day Judge. They are one and the same. We are doubly saved and safe (1 John 2:1; John 5:13). Let’s say it again, our lawyer is our Judge!

Yes, you read that correctly. The end time Judge is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the very one who is presently our advocate.

This is why we read in 2 Timothy 4:1, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick (living) and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;”

In Old Testament times, defending the accused was such a sacred duty that the judge refused to delegate the work to an attorney. He served as the defender of the accused. The Jewish Encyclopedia explains: “attorneys at law are unknown in Jewish law.Their legal code required judges to always lean to the side of the defendant and give him the advantage of every possible doubt.”

What a system! God, Himself, defends and judges the accused among His people. May we feed and meditate upon these glorious gospel truths.

Christ, the good news from Heaven, is our Advocate and Judge. We are and will be defended against all the accusations of Satan. Our eternal salvation does not depend on how useful we are, but on how efficient Christ is in saving sinners.

Jesus is our King, our Priest, our Advocate and Judge. What a remarkable arrangement. Talk about a deck stacked in our favour. Our advocate is the Lamb who was slain for the sins of His people. No charges can, therefore, stand against us. Bring on an onslaught of accusations. They are routed by our heavenly legal dream team. The blood of the Lamb saved us 2000 years ago, and now Christ ever lives to apply the benefits of His purchase to His people. We are safe! We are saved.

Remember, we are not secure in our salvation because of our grip on the Saviour, but rather because of His grip on us. He loved us before time began. He came here Himself in the person of Jesus to secure our redemption with His blood. He sought us until He found us. Do you think that He will now let us go back into our sins and be lost again? Away with such nonsense! If a child of God ends in Hell, Jesus, the One who claimed to be the Truth, is made a liar because He has promised His sheep they will never perish (John 10:28).

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XX- That it is unfavorable to good morality

January 15, 2020 5 comments

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter XX

That It Is Unfavorable To Good Morality

3. THE PRACTICAL FRUITS OF CALVINISM IN HISTORY ARE ITS BEST VINDICATION

Calvinism answers the charge that it is unfavorable to good morality, not merely by opposing reason against reason, but by putting facts of world-wide reputation over against these fictitious claims. It simply asks, What rival fruits can other systems oppose if we point to the achievements of the Protestant leaders of the Reformation period, and to the high moral earnestness of the Puritans? Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and their immediate helpers were all thorough-going “Calvinists,” and the greatest spiritual revival of all time was brought about under their influence. Those in England who held this system of faith were so very strict regarding purity of doctrine, purity of worship, and purity of daily life, that by their very enemies, who thus were their best witnesses, they were called “Puritans.” The Puritans in England, the Covenanters in Scotland, and the Huguenots in France, were men of the same religious faith and of like moral qualities. That the system of Calvin should have developed precisely the same kind of men in each of these different countries is a proof of its power in the formation of character.

Concerning the Puritans in this country McFetridge says: “Amongst all the people in the American colonies, they (the Puritans, Calvinists of New England) stood morally without peers. They were the men and the women of conscience, of sterling convictions. They were not, indeed, greatly given to sentimentalism. With mere spectacular observances in religion they had no sympathy. Life to them was an experience too noble and earnest and solemn to be frittered away in pious ejaculations and emotional rhapsodies. They believed with all their soul in a just God, a heaven and a hell. They felt, in the innermost core of their hearts, that life was short and its responsibilities great. Hence their religion was their life. All their thoughts and relations were imbued with it. Not only men, but beasts also, were made to feel its favorable influences. Cruelty to animals was a civil offense. In this respect they were two centuries in advance of the bulk of mankind. They were industrious, frugal and enterprising, and consequently affluence followed in their path and descended to their children and children’s children. Drunkenness, profanity and beggary were things little known to them. They needed neither lock nor burglarproof to secure their honestly-gotten possessions. The simple wooden bolt was enough to protect them and their wealth where honesty was the rule of life. As the result of such a life they were healthy and vigorous. They lived long and happily, reared large and devoted families, and descended to the grave ‘like as a shock of corn cometh in his season,’ in peace with God and their fellow-men, rejoicing in the hope of a blessed resurrection.” [5]

It is further to be remembered as a diadem upon the brow of Calvinistic morality, that in all the history of the Puritans there is said to have been not one case of divorce. What a crying need there is for some such influence today! Lawlessness in general was scarcely, if ever, more unknown than among the Puritans. If, then, Calvinism was actually unfavorable to morality, as charged, it would indeed be a strange coincidence that where there has been the most of Calvinism there has been the least of crime. “This is the problem,” says Froude, “Grapes do not grow on bramble bushes. Illustrious natures do not form themselves upon narrow and cruel theories. Spiritual life is full of apparent paradoxes . . . . The practical effect of a belief is the real test of its soundness. Where we find heroic life appearing as the uniform fruit of a particular opinion, it is childish to argue in the face of fact that the result ought to have been different.” [6]

“There is no system,” says Henry Ward Beecher, “which equals Calvinism in intensifying, to the last degree, ideas of moral excellence and purity of character. There never was a system since the world stood which puts upon man such motives to holiness, or which builds batteries which sweep the whole ground of sin with such horrible artillery. They tell us that Calvinism plies men with hammer and with chisel. It does; and the result is monumental marble. Other systems leave men soft and dirty; Calvinism makes them of white marble, to endure forever.” [7]

Instead of being a system which leads to immorality and despair, it has worked out exactly the opposite way in every-day life. No other system has so fired people with ideals of religious and civil freedom, nor led to such high ideals of morality and endeavor in all phases of human life. Wherever the Reformed Faith has gone it has made the country to blossom like the rose, even though it was a poor country like Holland, or Scotland, or New England. This has been admitted by Macaulay and many others, and is a very comforting thought.

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

The Wednesday Word: Jesus, The Great “I AM”

January 8, 2020 2 comments

John 8:58 “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.”

According to the Old Testament, the ultimate name of God is “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). This same “I AM” appeared in the New Testament calling Himself Jesus. It is no wonder then that many of the Jews, in those days, thought Christ to be demon possessed.

Others thought Him mad: No sane man could come up with the audacious utterances that flooded from the lips of this carpenter! The Jewish leaders knew fine well that when Jesus announced, “Before Abraham was I am” He was claiming to be God. Every Hebrew who knew his stuff was aware that the ‘I AM’ was none other than Yahweh —the One True and living God who had spoken to Moses at the Burning Bush. But now this brash upstart of a Nazarene tradesman dares to walk around claiming to be Him.

The lead up to Jesus’ claim of being the Covenant God of Israel, the ‘I Am,’ is fascinating. The troubled Pharisees were, as usual, debating Jesus when Abraham was mentioned. One of their number as he, no doubt, sat stroking his grizzled beard, asked with a voice of disdain, and I paraphrase,

“Are you greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead: who are you making yourself out to be?” (John 8:53).

Jesus floored them with His answer, claiming that Abraham had not only seen his day but also (unlike the Pharisees) had been glad. This was too much for the religious stalwarts of Jewish society. Was there no end to the carpenter’s impertinence? Indignant, they responded with no small degree of sarcasm saying, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” In other words, you haven’t even reached retirement age buddy, and yet you claim to be old enough to have seen the Father of our Nation.

Then Christ proceeds to drop a bombshell by announcing, “Before Abraham was I am.” In the Greek, the words for ‘I am’ are in the present tense (Ego eimi): Literally, Jesus was saying, ‘Before Abraham was I am continually!’ The Jews knew exactly what He was saying. They knew Christ was claiming, once more, to be the eternal God. Jesus was saying, “I am eternal. I have no beginning and no end. ‘I AM.’ There never was a time when I came into existence for I have always been. I am the eternal God standing here in human flesh.”

Notice how the Jews knew exactly what Jesus was claiming. See how they took up stones and tried to kill him. Stoning was the standard way by which blasphemers were executed. This attempted stoning, therefore, is a vital piece of evidence for it demonstrates that the Jews understood full well that Jesus was claiming to be God.

So how say you? The ancient Jews knew what He was saying and were enraged. They knew that Christ Jesus, by the claim of being the I Am was declaring that He was neither a created being nor a good teacher sent by God, but rather He was announcing Himself to be the eternal Yahweh who exists from all eternity.

How long then will you halt between two opinions? If Christ Jesus is the Mighty God, worship Him, trust him and follow Him. If He is not, rank Him alongside the evil workers of history. If you say He is only the Son of God but not God, you make Him a blasphemer. Why in the world would you want to follow a blasphemer? You should, instead, count Him as one who has, in a sinister fashion, led countless numbers to their doom in a lost eternity. But whatever you do, do not patronise Him by saying He was a good moral teacher, but not God.

We must never forget when Jesus declared Himself to be ‘I Am’ He was declaring Himself as the Eternal self- existent One.

He was saying, “I am the One who has existence in Myself.”

He was saying, “I am the one who made all things, and without Me was not anything made that is made.”

He was saying, “I am the one who sustains all things and upon whom all things depend.”

He was saying, “I am the one who decrees how long all things on earth continue for they continue only as long as I support them.”

He was saying, “No one exists without my permission and power, and when I take away their breath, they die.”

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XX- That it is unfavorable to good morality

January 8, 2020 1 comment

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter XX

That It Is Unfavorable To Good Morality

2. LOVE AND GRATITUDE TO GOD FOR WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR US IS THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE AND ONLY PERMANENT BASIS FOR MORALITY

Those who make the objection that we are now considering assume that believers — those who through the almighty power of God have been brought from death to life, from sin to holiness; who have partially beheld the love and glory of God as it is revealed in Christ — are still incapable of being influenced by any motives except those which arise from a selfish and exclusive regard to their own safety and happiness. And, as Cunningham says, they do virtually make a confession, “first, that any outward decency which their conduct may at present exhibit, is to be traced solely to the fear of punishment; and, secondly, that if they were only secured against punishment, they would find much greater satisfaction in serving the Devil than in serving God; and that they would never think of showing any gratitude to Him who had conferred the safety and deliverance on which they place so much reliance.” [2]

The contrast between the Calvinistic and the Arminian basis for morality is clearly stated in the following section from McFetridge: “The two great springs by which men are moved are, on the one hand, conviction and idea, on the other, emotion and sentiment; as these control, so the moral character will be shaped. The man who is ruled by convictions and ideas is the man of stability; he cannot be changed until his conscience is changed; the man who is ruled by emotion and sentiment is the man of instability. Now, the appeal of Arminianism is chiefly to the sentiments. Regarding man as having the absolute free moral control of himself, and as able at any moment to determine his own eternal state, it naturally applies itself to the arousing of his emotions. Whatever can lawfully awaken the feelings it considers expedient. Accordingly, the senses, above all things, must be addressed and affected. Hence the Arminian is, religiously, a man of feeling, of sentiment, and consequently disposed to all those things which interest the eye and please the ear. His morality, therefore, as depending chiefly upon the emotions, is, in the nature of the case, liable to frequent fluctuation, rising or falling with the wave of sensation upon which it rides. Calvinism, on the other hand, is a system which appeals to idea rather than sentiment, to conscience rather than emotion. In its views all things are under a great and perfect system of divine laws, which operate in defiance of feeling, and which must be obeyed at the peril of the soul . . . . Its thought is not sentiment, but conviction . . . . It makes the voice of God, speaking in the soul, a guide in all conduct. It seeks rather to convince men than to fill them with a transient sensation. Thus a deep sense of duty is the greatest thing in the moral life of the Calvinist. His first and last question is, Is it right? Of that he must first be convinced. Hence with him conscience has the first place in all practical questions . . . . In the Calvinistic conception God has marked out the way in which man is to walk — a way which He will not change; and man is required to walk in it, joyously or sorrowfully, with as much or as little sentiment as he pleases. Hence the Calvinist is not, religiously, a man of demonstrations, but rather a man of thoughtfulness; so that his morality, whatever it may be otherwise, is characterized by stability and strength, which may sometimes lapse into stubbornness and harshness.” [3]

Our love to God would at best be only lukewarm if we believed that His love and favor toward us depended only on our good behavior. His love toward us is as an immense sun, which shone without beginning and which will shine without end, while ours toward Him is, at its best, as only a little flame. Hence the assurance that the objects of God’s love shall never be permitted to fall away. Love which is founded on self-interest is commonly recognized as not being moral in the highest sense; yet Calvinism is the only system of faith which presents a purely unselfish motive, namely the consciousness that it is alone the free grace and unmerited love of God, to the exclusion of all human merit, that saves men. When the Christian remembers that he was saved only through the suffering and death of Christ his substitute, love and gratitude overflow his heart; and, like Paul, he feels that the least he can offer Christ in return is his whole life in loving service. Seeing himself saved by grace alone, he learns to love God for His own sake and finds it the joy of his life to serve Him with the whole heart. Obedience becomes not only the obligatory but the preferable good.

The motive which actuates the saints on earth is the same in principle, though not so intense, as that which actuates the saints in glory, whose constant delight is to perform the noblest actions and service, namely, that of praising God, and punctually performing His will without interruptions or defeats. “As they have always a ravishing sense of His goodness to them, so they exercise their perfectly pure minds in ascriptions of praise and glory to him for delivering them from deserved ruin, and placing them in the blissful mansions where they find themselves possessed of ease, delight, complacency, and glory wholly unmerited.” [4]

Pure love and gratitude to God, and not selfish fear, is the very fuel of acceptable obedience, and these are the elements from which alone anything like high and pure morality will ever proceed. Jesus had no fear that a sense of eternal security would lead to licentiousness in His disciples, for He said to them, “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” The elect, therefore, have the utmost reason to love and glorify God which any beings can have, and it is a sheer calumny to represent the doctrine of Predestination as tending to licentiousness and as unfavorable to good morality.

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

The Wednesday Word: FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT

January 1, 2020 1 comment

“Whether He is a sinner or not, I don´t know; one thing I do know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see” (John 9: 25).

Several believers I´ve recently met wonder about the reality of their salvation. They are in doubt because they cannot, with certainty, point to the day and hour of their conversion.

But does that matter?

It does if one holds to decisional regeneration, (i.e., we get saved by making a decision). In that case, it would seem that indeed, this matters much. It´s because, however, there is a failure to grasp the eternality of the Gospel that people fall victim to such punishing thinking. By the way, I like what John Stott says on the matter. He says, “A decision is involved in the process of becoming a Christian, but it is God’s decision before it can be ours. This is not to deny that we ‘decided for Christ’, and freely, but to affirm that we did so only because he had first ‘decided for us.’

The gospel we preach is as old as God. God chose a people for Himself and did it because of the good pleasure of His will and purpose (Ephesians 1:11; 3:11).

Salvation is of the Lord! It is His purpose to save His sheep.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, always comes looking for His sheep. Sometimes when He finds us, we have a dramatic conversion experience. Other times there is a quiet and gradual realisation that the shepherd has died and risen for us. We are not always able to pinpoint the exact moment we passed from death unto life. But we know that it has happened.

Jesus has always taken the best care to find His sheep. He says, “Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out…. and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark (Ezekiel 34:11-12).

It´s no wonder then if you cannot point to the day, nor the place, nor the means which the Lord used to bring about your conversion. These are deep mysteries. But, here´s the thing, can you with an honest heart say, “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, NOW I see?” Has the Spirit of God shown you your utter helplessness and ruin? Do you realise that of yourself you are hopelessly incapable of performing a single act whether of doing or believing-which would recommend you to His favour?

Once you were spiritually blind to Jesus, now you see.

Once you saw no beauty in Jesus; you didn´t see your need of Him.

Once you wondered how people could love an invisible Person.

Once you were blind to the glory of His Person.

Once you were blind to the wonders of His love.

Once you were blind to the infinite value of His precious blood.

Once you were blind to the perfection of that redemption work by which He lived, died and rose again.

As believers, we can say we once were blind, but now we see! Since we are no longer blind to the gospel, we are propelled to thank and bless the God of all grace (Acts 8:39). To open our blind eyes, and give us life required the omnipotent power of the One who once stood by that grave in Bethany and cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth! And Lazarus came out, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes.

I don’t believe for a moment that we will be questioned at the gates of the celestial city as to the day and the hour of our conversion. If we are found in Jesus, we will enter heaven with His righteousness upon us. And that perfect righteousness will be a passport which neither earth, nor hell, nor heaven itself can dispute.

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com