The Irresistibleness of Grace

Many objections have been voiced to me over my belief of irresistible grace. As I listen to the objections, I now realize that there is a complete misunderstanding on the part of my readers who object. Their arguments seem to go along the lines of “so, you believe God will drag some people kicking and screaming into heaven?” What they fail to see is the foolishness of their understanding of grace.
Grace is given to those who do not deserve it, in fact it is given to those who deserve the opposite. The Bible describes mankind as spiritually dead, blind to His glory and light. When God brings salvation to a human soul they are enlightened and see God in His glory for the first time. Their natural response is to gravitate to His glorious light. They are drawn as irresistibly to it as a moth is drawn to a light or a dog to bacon.
It isn’t that they are trying to resist and failing against their will – it is that they are so attracted to the holy pureness and love of God that they run to Him in response to His bringing of new life.
Perhaps it is because of a faulty understanding of salvation that people get confused. Humans do not decide to become “saved”. They are dead, spiritually. Dead people cannot respond to anything. I worked for some years at a funeral home. I took care of many dead people. None of them responded to any stimulus. They showed no initiative. In fact, they just laid there, staring unblinkingly at nothing. That is how the Bible describes people spiritually. Unresponsive, uncaring, unfeeling people who cannot come to God for salvation. So God comes to them and gives them a new heart. He “quickens” or makes the soul come alive. As this new life is imparted, the soul sees its Creator and responds in faith to the One who has just resurrected it. We respond just as Lazarus did. Laying in the tomb, cold, unfeeling, dead, Lazarus heard His Lord call him to life and the response was instantaneous. This is irresistible grace. This is why Scripture says we are saved by grace, through faith — not by faith through grace. Grace come first.

Thoughts on Repentance

Many times repentance is illustrated by having a person walk in one direction and then turn around and walk in the opposite direction. The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary defines “repent” as “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life”. Repentance is a change of mind and attitude that involves a conscious turning away from wrong actions, attitudes, thoughts and habits that conflict with a Godly lifestyle and biblical commands, and an intentional turning toward doing that which the Bible says pleases God.
As I reflect upon this, I find that many people do not do a 180 degree turn-around so much as they stop at 90 degrees. By this I mean that they stop doing what is wrong but do not replace it with what is right. One only needs to read the words of John the Baptist or the Apostle Paul to see how incomplete that is. The one who steals is to steal no longer but also to work and earn what he needs. Even more, he is to earn enough so that he has excess in order that he can give to those without so that they no longer are tempted to steal. One is to stop talking with a filthy mouth and bless and edify people instead. We are commanded to not only forgive our enemies but to pray that God blesses them, while blessing them ourselves.
In order to tell is a person is truly repentant, John the Baptist gives the definitive proof – do good works (produce fruit) in keeping with that repentance. Talk is cheap. One can pray seeking forgiveness for one’s wrongdoing but never obtain it because they have no intention of repenting. Repentance is often the forgotten aspect of salvation, in that we are not forgiven by God unless we come to Him with a repentant heart.
I.C. Herendeen says is well, when he states, ” For salvation, “repentance unto life” is just as necessary as is faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. No sinner was ever pardoned while he remained impenitent, while he remained in rebellion against God and His authority, and without submitting himself whole-heartedly to His Lordship. This involves the realization in his heart, wrought therein by the Holy Spirit, of “the sinfulness of sin” (Rom 7:13), of the awfulness of ignoring the claims of God and of defying His authority. Repentance is a “holy horror and hatred of sin, a deep sorrow for it, a contrite acknowledgment of it before God, and a complete hear forsaking of it.To exhort sinners to be saved by “Accepting Christ as their Saviour” without pressing upon them the imperative necessity of repentance is dishonest, and is to falsify God’s terms of salvation, for “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 17:3) is the Divine dictum. The sinner must either repent or perish, there is no other alternative. And since “All have sinned” (Rom. 3:23) all therefore need to “repent and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15) else they will be “punished with everlasting destruction” (2Thess. 1:9). To delay repentance then is most perilous.”
I end these thoughts with the words of Charles Hodge, a great man of God. He says, “The sure test of the quality of any supposed change of heart will be found in its permanent effects. Whatever, therefore, may have been our inward experience, whatever joy or sorrow we may have felt, unless we bring forth fruits meet for repentance, our experience will profit us nothing. Repentance is incomplete unless it leads to confession and restitution in cases of injury; unless it causes us to forsake not merely outward sins, which others notice, but those which lie concealed in the heart; unless it makes us choose the service of God and live not for ourselves but for Him. There is no duty, which is either more obvious in itself, or more frequently asserted in the Word of God, than that of repentance.”
Let us take heed of the words of John the Baptist and truly repent of sin in our life.

Thoughts on Thanksgiving Week Continued

It is traditional to make a list of things you are thankful for at Thanksgiving. Most of the time we focus on material things we have been blessed with. Some go deeper, thanking God for spiritual blessings bestowed during the year. Thanks for friends, family, health and employment top many lists. One category that gets left off many lists is arguably the most important. We should thank God for the things He has taken away from us.

In order to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind as commanded means we have to give up any and everything that obscures Him in our lives. Praise be to Him that He works in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son. To do this, He many times has to prune away those things that hinder us from reaching that goal. It may be that He has helped you to kick a destructive habit, end an unhealthy relationship, stop a hurtful lifestyle. It may be that He has forced you to accept the death of a loved one in order to lean only on Him. He may have taken away your job in order to prove to you that He is sufficient to meet all your needs.

As you make your list this year, how about including thanks for the things taken away that has made your faith stronger? I guarantee that it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Hymn Devotions Day 39 – We’ll Understand It Better By And By

DAY 39 – WE WILL UNDERSTAND IT BETTER BY AND BY

“Why, God, why?” So many times we ask that question. We cannot always see the plan God has for us. We stumble and crash through life, avoiding some things, falling into others. We watch as lives around us are destroyed. We see plans fall through. One day we are on top of the world, the next we are far below sea level. Each time we ask “why?”

Funny, isn’t it, that when things go well for us we rarely ask why. When things go wrong, we are quick to ask the question. The real understanding of man, though, would lead us to ask God why He blesses us at all.

We could have been born anywhere in the world, to any parents. God put us where He wanted us to be for a reason. Some of us have riches, some poverty. Some live in free societies, others in tightly controlled countries. He places us where He does for reasons that may not be obvious to us. Later, perhaps, we will come to understand the reasoning behind His actions. Sometimes we never will.

In reading through Job, I never find where God ever explained to Job the reasons behind his misfortune. He may know now, from heaven but he didn’t here on earth and that, I think is the point of this hymn. It may not be until we arrive home in heaven that we even begin to see how God weaved the tapestry of our life into that of all the other people on earth. It may not be until much later that we begin to comprehend His plan to bring glory to His name through our circumstances. Let us endure with patience, then, our lot in life and trust in Him to accomplish His purpose with us.

Lord, help me to realize that I do not have to understand, just trust. Help me to see that to develop faith in You, I must come to believe that You are in control and that You do not need to consult me or gain my permission. My life is Yours, do with it what You want.

WE WILL UNDERSTAND IT BETTER BY AND BY

by Charles Tindley

We are tossed and driven on the restless sea of time

Somber skies and howling tempest

Oft succeed a bright sunshine

In that land of perfect day when the mists are rolled away

We will understand it better by and by

We are often destitute of the things that life demands

Want of food and want of shelter

Thirsty hills and barren lands

We are trusting in the Lord and according to God’s word

We will understand it better by and by

Trials dark on every hand and we cannot understand

All the ways that God would lead us

To that blessed promised land

But He guides us with His eye and we’ll follow till we die

For we’ll understand it better by and by

Temptations, hidden snares often take us unawares

And our hearts are made to bleed

For a thoughtless word or deed

And we wonder why the test when we try to do our best

But we’ll understand it better by and by

REFRAIN:

By and by when the morning comes

When the saints of God are gathered home

We’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome

For we’ll understand it better by and by

From Isaac We Learn …

Isaac is one of those patriarchs of the Old Testament who is revered, along with Abraham and Jacob, over and over. For many people, the question is, why? Isaac is not recorded as having won any great victories, spiritual or physical. He seems content to lean on the accomplishments of his father. A cursory reading might lead one to believe that his greatest claim to fame is simply becoming the father of Jacob.

Isaac is non-confrontational. He allows others to walk all over him. He is a pretty poor parent (witness the tension and favoritism between Jacob and Esau) and didn’t even pick pick out his own wife. Why is Isaac held in such high esteem? I think the answer comes from the story of Genesis 22, where God tells Abram to sacrifice Isaac. Isaac is close to 9, 10 maybe even 12 years old. Abram is well over a hundred. Isaac is conscious enough to realize there is no lamb for a sacrifice. He is willing to be bound by Abram and laid on the altar. He could have easily outran Abram, probably even been a physical match for him at his advanced age.

As Abram pictures for us God’s love, being willing to sacrifice His Son, Isaac pictures for us Christ, loving his father so much he is willing to lay his life down. As Abram shows us complete obedience to God our Father, so does Isaac – in his complete obedience to his father. We know from Hebrews that Abram believed God could raise Isaac from the dead. No such statement is made about Isaac. Even not knowing if he would come back to life or not, Isaac was still willing to undergo this trial for the sake of his father.

That is the lesson we learn from Isaac. Are we in love with God so much that we are willing to obey Him completely, even at the cost of our life? Jesus was. A good question to ponder as we begin another week of service to our Heavenly Father.