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Predestination is Practical

by Jeff Robinson

In some churches, it is a word that conjures up images of an angry and capricious God who acts arbitrarily to save some, but consigns most sinners—including deceased infants—to eternal perdition. For many professing Christians, it is the mother-of-all-swear-words.

Let the pastor breathe it in the presence of the deacon board and he risks firing, fisticuffs or worse. A God who chooses is anti-American, anti democracy. It bespeaks a long-faced religion, a doctrinal novelty invented by a maniacal 16th century minister whose progeny manufactured a theological “ism” that has plunged countless souls into a godless eternity.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Duty of Gratitude for Divine Grace: Blessings of Grace: Pardon- Book Seventh- Chapter 3- Section 1

Book Seventh

CHAPTER III.

BLESSINGS OF GRACE.

THE SALVATION OF MEN IS ENTIRELY OF DIVINE GRACE.[1]

Grace is unmerited favor. Paul distinguishes, in Rom. iv. 4, between the reward of grace and the reward of debt. When good is conferred because it is due, it is not of grace. Whatever may be claimed on the score of justice, cannot be regarded as unmerited favor. Justice gives to every man according to his works; and if salvation were of works, it could not be of grace. Paul has made this matter very plain: “To him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. If by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work.”[2]

For the same reason that salvation is not of works, it is not of the law. The law is the rule of justice, and takes cognisance of the men’s works. If it gave life to men, it could be only on the ground of their obedience to its requirements; for its language is, “the man that doeth these things shall live by them.”[3] Salvation by the law is declared to be impossible: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.[4] The Scriptures represent grace and law as opposed to each other: “The law was given by Moses; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”[5] “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”[6] “It is of faith, that it might be by grace.”[7] Sometimes the term law is used in an extended sense; as when the law of faith is opposed to the law of works;[8] and the law of the spirit of life, to the law of sin and death.[9] Hence we read of “the perfect law of liberty,”[10] which cannot be the rule of justice: that says, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”[11] When the term law is used in this extended sense, it denotes the method of salvation by grace through faith, and is carefully distinguished from “the law of works.”

The doctrine that salvation is of grace, is taught in the sacred Scriptures with great clearness. In the second chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians, the declaration is twice made, “By grace ye are saved.” Paul ascribes his own salvation to grace: “By the grace of God, I am what I am.”[12] He traces the blessing of salvation to “the grace given in Christ Jesus, before the world began:”[13]–to “the riches of his grace:”[14]–to “the exceeding riches of his grace.”[15]

Salvation is entirely of grace. The passages already quoted show that salvation is not partly of grace and partly of works. Grace and works are so opposed to each other, that, when it is affirmed to be of grace, it is denied to be of works: “Not of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.” “Not according to our works; but according to his own purpose and grace.”[16] The exclusion of all boasting,[17] was, that the blessing bestowed is entirely of grace: “Not of works, lest any man should boast.”[18] Our works are wholly excluded; because they are all sinful, and can deserve nothing but the wrath of God. Faith renounces all reliance on our own works, all expectation of favor on their account; and asks and receives every blessing as the gift of divine grace through Jesus Christ. When salvation is so received, all boasting is effectually excluded.

That salvation is entirely of divine grace, may be argued from the condition in which the Gospel finds mankind. We are justly condemned, totally depraved, and, in ourselves, perfectly helpless. All this has been fully proved in a former chapter; is verified in the experience of every one who is awakened to a just view of his lost state; and precisely accords with the language of God to his ancient people: “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help.”[19] The second chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians describes the condition of men by nature: “Children of wrath,” “dead in trespasses and sins,” “without hope and without God;” and it attributes their deliverance from this wretched and hopeless condition, to the grace of God, who is rich in mercy: “But God, in his great love, wherewith he loved us even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved), and hath raised us up together; and hath made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. For by grace ye are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” In the eagerness of his desire to impress the minds of the Ephesian Christians with a sense of their obligation to divine grace, before he reaches the conclusion of his argument, as if impatient to express the thought with which his own mind was so deeply impressed, he introduced it parenthetically, by anticipation, “By grace ye are saved.” Afterwards, when his argument is completed, he repeats the declaration, and expands it to the utmost fulness of meaning, when he adds that faith itself is the gift of God. If the blessing bestowed is of faith, that it might be by grace, and if faith itself is the gift of God, it must be emphatically true that salvation is of grace.

The blessings which are bestowed in salvation, demonstrate that it is entirely of grace. We shall proceed to a particular consideration of these, in the sections which follow: but we may here, in a general view, comprehend them under two gifts, namely, of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit.

The gift of Christ, to die for us, and to become to us the author of eternal salvation, is entirely of grace: “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.”[20] “God commendeth his love toward us.”[21] “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all; how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”[22] Without the death of Christ, our salvation was impossible: and we had no claim on God to draw forth from him the gift of his well-beloved. He was freely given, of God’s great love, wherewith he loved us: and as he was freely given, so all the blessings which flow through him are freely given also. If any man feels that Christ was under obligation to die for him, or that God was bound to give his Son to make the needed sacrifice for sin, he totally mistakes, on a point of vital importance to the salvation of his soul. The doctrine that salvation is of grace, is not a useless speculation; but it enters into the very heart of Christian experience; and the faith which does not recognise it, does not receive Christ as he is presented in the Gospel. It is, therefore, a matter of unspeakable importance, that our view of this truth should be clear, and that it should be cordially embraced by every power of our minds.

As the Son of God was freely given to effect our salvation by his death; so the Holy Spirit is freely given, to apply the salvation which the Son has wrought out: “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”[23] We receive the Holy Spirit as a gift of the Father’s love, who bestows it, as earthly parents give good things to their children.[24] And this gift is not bestowed because of merit in the recipient. Paul asks, “Received ye the Spirit, by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”[25] From this inquiry we learn that this gift also is of faith, that it might be by grace.[26] The Spirit is given in answer to the prayer of Christ: and being thus bestowed through Christ, it is one of the good things freely given together with Christ. We are encouraged to pray that God would give us his Holy Spirit: but our prayer cannot be acceptable, and will not be heard, if we ask the blessing as one which is justly due, and which we may demand as a right. When our humbled hearts plead that God would, in the exceeding riches of his grace, grant us his Holy Spirit, to renew and sanctify us, and fit us for his service, our petitions rise with acceptance to the ear of the Lord of hosts.

An objection to the views which have been presented, may arise from the fact, that, in the last day, men will be judged according to their works.[27] But the good works of the saints are the fruit of grace bestowed; and, although the sentence in the great day will be according to their works, the reward will nevertheless be of grace, and not of debt. Their works will be an evidence of their faith; and Christ, the Judge, will refer to them, as proof of love to him. The kingdom which he will bestow, will be, not a reward for the merit of their works, but an inheritance prepared for them before the foundation of the world.[28] It will be as true on that day, as it is now, and it will be felt to be true by all the saints, that eternal life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ.[29]

SECTION I.–PARDON.

ALL WHO REPENT OF SIN OBTAIN FORGIVENESS THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.[30]

Forgiveness implies deliverance from the penalty due to sin. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness: and when men become sensible to the danger to which they are exposed, deliverance from the impending wrath becomes an object of intense solicitude. Hence arises an anxious desire to obtain forgiveness. To persons in this state of mind, the doctrine that there is forgiveness with God, is most welcome.

All forgiveness is bestowed through Jesus Christ. It is he who delivers from the wrath to come.[31] In him “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”[32] He had power on earth to forgive sins;[33] and he is now exalted a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins.[34] That we might be delivered from the penalty due to our sins, it was necessary that Christ should bear it for us. Hence it is true, that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission;[35] and hence, in the teachings of Scripture, the forgiveness of sins stands connected with redemption by the blood of Christ. With this agrees the language of the redeemed: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins, in his own blood.”[36]

The blessing of forgiveness is bestowed on all who truly repent of their sins. This is taught in various passages of Scripture. “Repent ye, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”[37] “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”[38] Repentance and remission of sins[39] were preached in the name of Christ, and are associated blessings, bestowed by “the exalted Prince and Saviour.”[40] When Jesus said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,”[41] it was implied that, if they repented, they would escape. God, in the gospel, commands all men everywhere to repent, in view of the approaching judgment.[42] The hope of escape in that great day, is clearly held out to those who obey the command, and sincerely repent of their sins.

Forgiveness is sometimes represented in the Scriptures, as received by faith in Christ: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sin.”[43] Repentance and faith are twin graces, proceeding from the same Holy Spirit, and wrought in the same heart; and, although they may be contemplated separately, they exist together, and the promise of forgiveness belongs to either of them.

In the New Testament, a connection appears, between the remission of sins and the ordinance of baptism. John preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;[44] and Ananias commanded Saul, “Arise, and be baptised, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”[45] In the Old Testament, a similar connection appears, between remission and the sacrifices of that dispensation. “Almost all things were by the law purged with blood, and without the shedding of blood is no remission.”[46] Yet Paul has taught us that the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin;[47] that these offerings were only figures of things to come; and that the only effectual removal of sin is by the blood of Christ. Baptism under the gospel, is as truly a figure, as the sacrifices were under the law. In the ceremonies instituted by Moses, the death of Christ was prefigured by the death of the slaughtered victims; and in the gospel ceremony, the burial and resurrection of Christ are figured forth in the ordinance of baptism: and in both cases, the remission connected with the ceremony is merely figurative. Our sins are washed away in baptism, in the same sense in which we eat the body and brink the blood of Christ, in the ordinance of the Lord’s supper.[48] Baptism and the Lord’s supper are duties to be performed under the gospel dispensation; as the various ceremonies instituted by Moses, were duties under the former dispensation; but the figures ought not, in either case, to be confounded with the things which they represent. In a figure, baptism washes away sin: in reality, “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin.” We must be careful not to rely on the figure, instead of the reality which it represents.

To escape the wrath to come, is the first desire of the awakened sinner; and mercy, mercy, forgive, forgive, are the first words uttered in his earnest prayers. Forgiveness is bestowed on repentance, and repentance is the first duty enjoined in the gospel. It is fit that the first blessing of grace which the sinner anxiously seeks, should be connected with the first duty required of him. It shows, on the one hand, the holiness of God, who will not pardon sin, except on the condition of the sinner’s return to obedience; and, on the other, God’s readiness to forgive, inasmuch as his wrath is averted at the first step of the sinner’s return. He might have required that the sinner should undergo a long discipline of painful penance, and a long course of laborious service, as a condition of release from the indignation and wrath so long provoked. But God’s readiness to forgive, is beautifully illustrated in the parable of the prodigal son, by the conduct of the father, who, while his son was yet a great way off, ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him,[49] with free and full assurance of pardon and acceptance. Such is the love which God manifests to the returning sinner. It hastens to receive him on the first indication of true penitence. Nor is it a partial forgiveness which is then bestowed. The storm of divine wrath, which had been gathering over the sinner’s head, during all his life of impenitence, is at once dispelled, and his sins, as a thick cloud, are at once blotted out.[50] To show the completeness of his pardon, his iniquities are represented as buried in the depths of the sea;[51] not in some shallow place, where an ebbing tide might leave them uncovered; but in the depths of the ocean, where, if they should be sought for, they could never be found. Such is God’s forgiveness. Why are sinners so averse to seek it?

Although, on the first movement of a sinner in his return to God, the first blessing of divine grace is bestowed on him, so full, so freely, so gloriously; it does not follow, that he may safely stop short in his progress. The doctrine of the saints’ final perseverance, which we shall hereafter consider, is misunderstood and misapplied; if men take encouragement from it, to relax in their efforts to advance in the way of holiness. The blessing of forgiveness, and the exercise of repentance, are connected with each other, at the beginning of the divine life; and their connection remains throughout its progress. We have occasion to pray for forgiveness, as often as we pray for our daily bread,[52] and the prayer cannot be presented with a well grounded hope that it will be heard and answered, unless it proceed from a penitent heart. Penitence is as necessary to pardon, in the saint who is just finishing his warfare, and taking his departure for the other world, as it was in the first moment of his drawing near to God. Christ was exalted “to give repentance and remission of sins:” and if these do not accompany each other, they do not come from Christ. He who believes that all his sins, past and future, were forgiven at his first conversion, in such a sense that he may dispense with all subsequent penitence, and rest satisfied with his first forgiveness, has need to learn again the first principles of the doctrine of Christ.

[1] Eph. ii. 5, 7, 8; 2 Tim. i. 9; Rom. iii. 24; viii. 23; xi. 5, 6; ix. 15, 16.

[2] Rom. xi. 6.

[3] Rom. x. 5.

[4] Gal. iii. 21.

[5] John i. 17.

[6] Gal. iii. 2.

[7] Rom. iv. 16.

[8] Rom. iii. 27.

[9] Rom. viii. 2.

[10] James i. 25.

[11] Gal. iii. 10.

[12] 1 Cor. xv. 10.

[13] 2 Tim. i. 9.

[14] Eph. i. 7.

[15] Eph. ii. 7.

[16] 2 Tim. i. 9.

[17] Rom. iii. 27.

[18] Eph. ii. 9.

[19] Hosea xiii. 9.

[20] John iii. 16.

[21] Rom. v. 8.

[22] Rom. viii. 32.

[23] Rom. v. 5.

[24] Luke xi. 13.

[25] Gal. iii. 2.

[26] Rom. iv. 16.

[27] Rev. xx. 12.

[28] Matt. xxv. 34.

[29] Rom. vi. 23.

[30] Isaiah lv. 7; Jer. iii. 12, 22; Luke xxiv. 46, 47; Acts ii. 38; iii. 19; v. 31.

[31] 1 Thess. i. 10.

[32] Eph. i. 7.

[33] Matt. ix. 6.

[34] Acts v. 31.

[35] Heb. ix. 22.

[36] Rev. i. 5.

[37] Acts iii. 19.

[38] 1 John i. 9.

[39] Luke xxiv. 47.

[40] Acts v. 31.

[41] Luke xiii. 3.

[42] Acts xvii. 30.

[43] Acts x. 43.

[44] Mark i. 4.

[45] Acts xxii. 16.

[46] Heb. ix. 22.

[47] Heb. ix. 13.

[48] 1 Cor. x. 16.

[49] Luke xv. 20.

[50] Isaiah xliv. 22.

[51] Mic. vii. 19.

[52] Matt. vi. 11, 12.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

An Appendix To A Confession Of Faith- Appendix Point 15

15. As we mind that our whole salvation is given unto us of the Father by Jesus Christ, and for His sake; so we likewise mind, that the Father’s giving Jesus Christ for us, and to us, and so saving us in Him, and for His sake, is the acting and manifesting of that free love of His towards us, which was in Himself from all eternity, John 17:23; Eph. 1:4,5.

Benjamin Cox- An Appendix To A Confession Of Faith

The Wednesday Word: Secured for the New Year and Beyond!

Revelation 5:9, “And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood …”

The word ‘redeem’ means ‘to purchase for ownership’; or ‘to pay a ransom.’ It stands to reason then that, if we are bought by the precious blood of Christ, neither the Devil nor anyone else can buy us back! We are bought with a price! We belong to Christ forever! We cannot be lost! If we can be lost, then there is a flaw in the work of Calvary. If we perish, there is something flawed with His payment. Admittedly, there are all manner of flaws in us, but there are no flaws in our substitute and His ransom. Because of the power of the blood to redeem, we can never be lost! We are safe and secure.

We are saved because of one man and His accomplishments. There is no failing in this Second man, the Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45; 47). He, as a consequence of His work on Earth 2000 years ago, is now, at this moment, in Heaven as our representative. Because of Him, there is now no legal condemnation for us. We are in Christ and, in Him, we have a perfect standing before the Father.

So here’s Good News for the New Year. It comes in two short questions with answers.

1. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies.”

2. “Who is He that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God who also maketh intercession fo us” (Romans 8:33).

The only one who can condemn us won’t condemn us for He has died for us. He has powerfully bought and mercifully paid for us with His own precious blood.

Augustus Toplady, the author of Rock of Ages, knew something of this Grace about which we speak. On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1767, he wrote in his diary; “Upon a review of the past year, I desire to confess, that my unfruitfulness has been exceeding great; my sins still greater, and God’s mercies greater than both.”

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?….. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39).

Notice how nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of Christ. Away then with this teaching that Christ can lose that which He dearly purchased with His own blood.

This New Year may we never forget that we are not saved because of our love for Him but because of His love for us. We are not secured by our grip on Him but by His grip on us.

One old time preacher said, “Salvation was like Noah inviting a pagan in his day to place his trust in God’s Word and come into the Ark. Some, however, view salvation as Noah offering to put a peg on the outside of the Ark and saying “If you just hang on through the storm, you’ll be saved.”

Since repetition is the price of learning, let’s then say it again: Salvation is not dependent on our holding on to God, but on our being securely held by and in Christ.”

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

The Wednesday Word: Beware of Imitations

November 16, 2016 Leave a comment

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Rev 12:11

The first thing the blood of the Lamb signifies is the death of the Son of God. Our Lord was not only bruised for our iniquities He was also put to death. As He took away our sins, His blood flowed at Calvary. His death is now our victory, our life, and our acquittal. It is the end of our rejection and the securing of our eternity. But beware of imitations. We don’t need Christ the good example. Christ the good example saves no one. If the Christ we believe in is not the Christ of the Cross, He is not the saving Christ who saves by blood. When we read the phrase, “The blood of the Lamb,” we are instantly reminded of the real Christ, the substitutionary sacrifice. His death was ours for He died, the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). In the Old Covenant, the sinner brought the lamb and the lamb died in His place. The Lamb was the sinner’s substitute. Today, as we, by faith, bring the Lamb to the Father, we discover that it is the Lamb who actually leads us to God.

As believers, we have the privilege to tell the story that God was manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). We are blessed to be able to tell of how He became one of us, a genuine human and died for human sin. In His death, He did not merely make it possible for God to forgive us but He secured forgiveness for all His people. He did not die to make His people saveable, but to actually and definitely save them. Christ came to put away our sin by the sacrifice of Himself (Hebrews 9:26). As He died on the cross, He “finished transgressions, made an end of sin and brought in everlasting righteousness” (Daniel 9:24). What a Victory! There is now, therefore, no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). None! This is good news and music to our souls.

Frederick A. Tatford tells of how at a great Parliament of Religions, held in Chicago many years ago, practically every known religion was represented.

During one session, Dr. Joseph Cook, of Boston, suddenly rose and said: “Gentlemen, I beg to introduce to you a woman with a great sorrow. Bloodstains are on her hands, and nothing she has tried will remove them. The blood is that of murder. She has been driven to desperation in her distress. Is there anything in your religion that will eliminate her sin and give her peace?” A hush fell upon the gathering. Not one of the company replied.

Raising his eyes heavenwards, Dr. Cook then cried out, “John, can you tell this woman how to get rid of her awful sin?” The great preacher waited as if listening for a reply. Suddenly he cried, “Listen. John speaks: ’The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sins’ (I John 1:7).”

Not a soul broke the silence: the representatives of Eastern religions and Western cults sat dumb. In the face of human need, the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone could meet the need. Sin demands blood. Christ provided it.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

There are some who preach the doctrine of election as though it were a line of sharp pikes to keep a sinner from coming to Christ

November 7, 2016 2 comments

Spurgeon 1Lastly, this precious truth is full of comfort to the sinner, and that is why I love it. As it has been preached by some it has been exaggerated and made into a bugbear. Why, there are some who preach the doctrine of election as though it were a line of sharp pikes to keep a sinner from coming to Christ, as though it were a sharp, glittering halbert to be pushed into the breast of a coming sinner to keep him from mercy. Now it is not so. Sinner, whoever you may be, wherever you may be, your greatest comfort should be to know that salvation is by grace. Why man, if it were by merit, what would become of you? Suppose that God saved men on account of their merits, where would you drunkards be? where would you swearers be? you who have been unclean and unchaste, and you whose hearts have cursed God, and who even now do not love him, where would you be? But when it is all of grace, why then all your past life, however black and filthy it may be, need not keep you from coming to Jesus. Christ receiveth sinners, God has elected sinners; he has elected some of the blackest of sinners why not you? He receives every one that comes to him. He will not cast you out. There have been some who have hated him, insulted him to his face, that have burned his servants alive, and have persecuted him in his members, but as soon as even they have cried, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” he has given them mercy at once, and he will give it to you if you be led to seek it. If I had to tell you that you were to work out your own salvation apart from his grace it were a sad look-out for you, but when it comes to you thus: black, there is washing for you! dead! there is life for you! Naked! there is raiment for you! All undone and ruined! here is a complete salvation for you! O soul, mayest thou have grace to lay hold of it, and then thou and I together will sing to the praise of the glory of divine grace.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Salvation Altogether by Grace (2 Timothy 1:9)- Delivered on Sunday Morning July 29th, 1866

The doctrines of the Grace of God makes a man look down upon himself and say, “I am nothing”

October 31, 2016 2 comments

SpurgeonAt the same time this doctrine makes a man look down upon himself. “Ah,” saith he, “I am nothing, there is nothing in me to merit esteem. I have no goodness of my own. If saved, I cannot praise myself; I cannot in any way ascribe to myself honor; God has done it, God has done it.” Nothing makes the man so humble; but nothing makes him so glad; nothing lays him so low at the mercy seat, but nothing makes him so brave to look his fellow man in the face. It is a grand truth: would God ye all knew its mighty power!

Charles H. Spurgeon- Salvation Altogether by Grace (2 Timothy 1:9)- Delivered on Sunday Morning July 29th, 1866