Posts Tagged ‘Doctrines of Grace

27
Oct
16

My Latest Book

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M8NHJAR/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_t2_0Iveyb29EJV6B

 

19
Sep
16

I thank you, Lord of Earth and Heaven

I thank you, Lord of earth and heaven,
That from the wise you’ve hidden light
But unto babes your truth have given,
For this was pleasing in your sight.
Into the hands of Christ, the Son,
All things are from the Father given.
His purpose is to make him known;
It was for this he came from heaven.
No one can truly know the Son
Except the Father on the throne.
The Father none can know, not one
Unless the Son should make him known.
To weary ones bowed down with sin
The Savior calls with tender voice
And promises sweet rest within
To all who in his name rejoice.
“Come unto me,” he calls aloud
To helpless ones who’ve fallen down
And lie beneath the heavy load
Of sin, and of Jehovah’s frown.
“Take on my yoke and learn from me
For I, in heart, am meek and low.”
In coming you will be made free
And given grace my rest to know.
Randy Seiver
Based on Matthew 11:25-29

19
Jun
16

Unless the Father Who Has Sent Me Should Draw Him

In John 6: 36-45, there are many important lessons for us to learn about the saving work of the Father and the Son. Jesus has revealed these important truths against the backdrop of a quite telling statement in verse 36 of this chapter. Having revealed himself to his hearers as the bread of life, he has confronted them with their unbelief and that unbelief in the face of full revelation. He said to them, “. . .you have seen me, and have not believed.” They could not plead ignorance or lack of information. They had rejected him in the face of full knowledge. They had enjoyed the blessings but cared nothing for the one who had blessed them. The reality is that though they were quite willing for him to feed and bless them physically and materially, they had no appetite for him as the true bread that came down from God out of heaven. Jesus was not merely describing the condition of these sinners; he was describing the condition of every sinner in a state of sinful nature. Paul wrote, “. . .but the natural man does not welcome the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him, neither is he able to know them because they are discerned spiritually.”
The logical question that would occur to any thinking person, in the light of this revelation, concerns the success or failure of Jesus’ earthly mission. It would seem that his best efforts would be destined to fail given the obdurate condition of men’s sinful hearts. Jesus later made it clear that everyone who commits sin is a bond-slave of sin and that such a condition could only be remedied by the Son himself. Only he can make sinners truly free.
It was to answer such a question that Jesus spoke the words we find recorded in verses 37-40; 44-45, of this chapter. He wanted his hearers to understand that his is work would certainly succeed because it did not depend on the fallen will of sinful people but on the sovereign will of an omnipotent God. Paul wrote, “Therefore, it [the bestowal of mercy] is not of him who wills [It is not based on human decision] or of him who runs [It is not based on human exertion], but of God who shows mercy” (Rom. 9:16). In John 6:37-45, Jesus made the following lessons so clear that only a person with an extreme philosophical bias against the truth of God’s sovereign grace would miss them. Please consider the following lessons that are on the face of this passage:
1. The success of Jesus’ redemptive activity has never been in doubt. It was a matter of absolute certainty that he would save and keep for eternity all those the Father had given him in his decreed will and was giving him according to that will. “All that the Father is giving me shall come to me, and he who comes to me, I will never by any means cast out” (John 6:44). It should be clear to anyone who understands the function of verb tenses in any language that the “giving” precedes the “coming.” Though the primary force of the Greek verb concerns the kind of action in view, the time of the action is not unimportant. The simple question one must ask is whether a verb in the present tense [time] precedes or follows the future tense. “Is giving” clearly precedes “shall come.” It is impossible to reason from this syntax that Jesus was saying his Father would give to him [future] those who were coming to him [present]. He was saying precisely the opposite.
2. It is clear that the accomplishment and application of redemption was to be carried out according to the will of God the Father. Jesus not only linked those the Father was giving him (v. 37) with those he had given him (v. 39), but he has also linked both these divine acts with the purpose of God the Father in sending him (v. 39). Additionally, he states this fact as the foundation that undergirded and established the absolutely certainty of the success of his redemptive work. “. . .I will never by any means cast him out, Because I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. . .” It is not surprising, then, that Paul wrote concerning God’s people that we are “the called ones according to his purpose.” Jesus was talking about those who are the “given ones,” and the “drawn ones” according to the Father’s purpose.
3. These verses help us to understand that Jesus’ work was not intended to turn the Father’s wrathful heart toward sinners by his work of propitiation. Instead, it was the Father who loved a people that he had chosen for himself, given as a love gift to his Son, and sent his Son to be the satisfaction for their sins. John wrote in his first epistle, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (4:10). Jesus came precisely to execute the Father’s desires for his chosen people.
4. Jesus made it clear in the words of verse thirty-seven that it was he who was to secure the eternal redemption of those the Father had given him. Though those given him could not come to him and would not come to him apart from the Father’s drawing (v. 44), it was not the Father who, in drawing them, would secure their eternal redemption. Instead, it was the Son whose work it was and is to secure the salvation of those the Father has given him. His negative phrase “I will never by any means cast out” is intended to strongly emphasize a positive truth. That point is that he, himself, will certainly save and keep all those the Father has give him to redeem. He has emphasized the certainty of the success of his ministry by stating three times in this passage, “And I will raise him up again at the last day.” That is simply another way of saying that his is a “love that will not let me go.” If the Father has loved us and given us to the Son, it is an absolute certainty that he will save completely those who draw near to God by him. If they are his now, they have always been his and will forever be his.
5. Jesus repeated the words “. . .and I will raise him up again at the last day” three times in this passage (vv. 39,40, 44) and in doing so he has identified those mentioned in each of those verses with those mentioned in the other two verses. These groups are co-extensive. Everyone in each of these groups is also in the other two. Those whom the Father has given to Jesus are the same as those who see the Son and believe on him, and those who see the Son and believe on him are the same as those whom the Father has drawn. This being true, the drawing about which Jesus spoke in verse forty-four does not extend beyond those the Father has given to Jesus and who have seen the Son and believed on him. It makes no sense to suppose that those who see the Son and believe on him are somehow different from those the Father has drawn to Jesus. When Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me should draw him, the clear implication that this drawing is always effectual is confirmed by the phrase “and I will raise him [the one drawn] up at the last day, i.e., every person who has been drawn will fully and finally be saved.
Some have attempted to blunt the force of this verse by citing John 12:32 in which Jesus said “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to me.” In this effort to show that everyone is drawn, there are several factors they have overlooked. In John 6 it is the Father who draws; here it is the Son who draws. The context of this verse is one in which certain Greeks were seeking an audience with Jesus. When Jesus learned of their request, he seemed to ignore it. Instead, he began to speak about the necessity of his death if ever there was to be harvest of souls. These Greeks would never be able to approach him on an equal basis with God’s covenant people unless Jesus was lifted up to glory by means of being lifted up on the cross, but if Jesus is lifted up, he will draw all peoples, both Hebrews and Gentiles to himself. If we should insist that the drawings in both these passages have the same referent and that “all” in 12:32 must refer to every individual on the planet, then we are shut up to the conclusion that Jesus will fully and finally save every person without exception, i.e., “raise him [the one drawn] up again at the last day.”
6. The word translated “draw” (ἐλκύω) was not used of gentle persuasion but of such actions as drawing water from a well, dragging a net full of fish to shore, and drawing a sword from its scabbard. That is not to say that the Father’s act of bringing sinners to Jesus involves force. No sinner is forced to bow to Jesus against his will. Instead, Jesus used the word to emphasize the effectual nature of the Father’s drawing.
7. In verse 45, Jesus continued to speak about the Father’s drawing and explains its nature in terms of prophetic revelation. D.A. Carson has written, “When he compels belief, it is not the savage constraint of a rapist, but by the wonderful wooing of a lover. Otherwise put, it is by an insight, a teaching, an illumination implanted within the individual in fulfillment of the Old Testament promise, ‘they will all be taught by God.’” These words are a paraphrase of Isaiah 54:13. Isaiah’s prophesy was about more than occasional and casual instruction; it referred to a person becoming a disciple. The pr.evalent teaching of the prophetic Scriptures was that in the Messianic age, every member of the true Israel of God would become a learner through the internal illumination of the Spirit. This understanding corresponds to the teaching of passages such as Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:24-26 where God promises to write his law on his people’s hearts, and give them a new heart and spirit. Everyone who becomes God’s disciple, in this sense, comes to Jesus. William Hendricksen has reminded us that in showing how sinners come to Jesus, the Scriptures never merely set predestination and human responsibility side by side without showing a causal relationship between them. On the contrary, it is always shown that it is God who takes the initiative and who is in control from start to finish. I would add that not only does God take the initiative but he does so effectually. Everyone who listens to and is taught by God in this way will come to Jesus

12
Jan
14

“If God is For US” Romans 8:31-32

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave himself up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things (Romans 8:31-32).

In Romans 8:31 the apostle begins the conclusion to the argument he began to pursue in chapter five of this epistle. Note the words, “What then [or therefore] shall we say. . .?” That argument is that everyone God has justified, he will certainly glorify. He wrote,

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5:1-2).

It is important to note that Paul did not write, “We have a conditional peace with God based on our repentance and confession every time we sin.” We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have obtained an access by faith in to this grace in which WE STAND, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God,”

Believers have been introduced into a standing in grace in which we continue to stand. The reason this standing does not change is that it does not depend on the believer’s faithfulness but on the faithfulness of Christ. It is grace that now governs the relationship of the believer to his God. Grace now reigns for all who are in Christ. The believer no longer rests on his record but on Christ’s record.

When Paul writes that we rejoice in hope of the glory of God, he refers to a confident assurance that the believer will be fully conformed to Christ’s image. We rejoice in the reality that our glorification with Christ is absolutely certain. If our rejoicing in hope of the glory of God depended on our faithfulness, there would be no ground of rejoicing whatsoever. On our very best day, we continue to fall short of the glory of God. God’s holiest people are not yet completely conformed to Christ’s image.

The best obedience of my hands
Dares not appear before God’s throne,
But faith can answer his demands
By pleading what my Lord has done.

The level of righteousness to which we have arrived in the process of sanctification is never intended to form the basis of our rejoicing regarding glorification. Though we should be encouraged to believe our faith is genuine when we observe the righteousness and obedience the sanctifying Spirit has produced in us, that righteousness can never form the basis of our acceptance before God or the ground of our certainty of glorification. Instead, it is because we have been granted an introduction into the reign of grace that we are able to exult in the confident assurance that we will certainly be conformed to the image of God’s glory in Christ. It is when we are assured that God has arrested us in our sinful course and that we are now under his control and under the reign of his sovereign grace that we will begin to have confidence that our glorification is certain.

Our concern as believers is to be certain we are found on the rock that cannot be moved. It is to ascertain whether God is for us or against us. Once we are convinced that we have been united to Christ by faith, we have every reason to believe God is for us and that our final perseverance in faith as well as our full conformity to Christ’s image is an absolute certainty.

There is no promise in the God’s Word that all who profess faith in Christ will infallibly be glorified. We must remind ourselves that not every blossom brings forth fruit. The focus of the Christian life is not on the inception but on the finish. It is the character of true faith that it endures. In Romans 8:37, having posed the question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” and having suggested a number of trying circumstances that might provoke such a separation, the apostle boldly asserted that none of these things could prevail to separate us from the great lover of our souls. This is a love that will not let us go. We are firmly in his loving grip. As a result, he wrote “ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” By his grace, God enables every true believer to be more than an over comer. It is not merely that he preserves us, but that because he keeps us and continues to perform his sanctifying work in us, we over come every trial and persevere in believing.

Once the Spirit of God assures us that God is for us, we are flooded with the abundant consolation of the gospel.

Before we consider the text itself, it is important that we examine its component parts and clear our minds of any faulty ideas that might cloud our minds and obscure its true teaching.

1. When Paul begins to draw his conclusion based on “these things” the blessings mentioned are not limited to the immediate context but extend to those blessings mentioned in the entire context beginning in chapter five.

2. The conditional clause “if God is for us, . . .” does not express any doubt. It is a condition of the first class in which the condition is assumed to be a reality. It is as if Paul is saying, in the light of everything we have been asserting, if we are genuine believers we must assume for the sake of argument that God is for us. If that assumption is true, who can prevail against us?

3. We must not derive from the words, “who can be against us?” a false notion that if God is for us we will never have enemies or face opposition. In reality, the exact opposite is true. Jesus made it clear the world is going to hate us if we follow him. Satan himself is our adversary. Paul’s teaching is that no one will be able to prevail against us if God is for us.

4. We must not think that the “us” in the phrase, “if God is for us” or the words “us all” in the phrase “gave himself up for us all” refer to all the members of the human family. The context clearly limits the referents of those terms to believers. To understand this we need only consider to whom these words were addressed. Consider the apostle’s salutation and greeting in chapter of this epistle. He addressed his words “ To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world” (Rom. 1:7-8). Suppose one day while walking down the street I found a letter addressed to Frank Smith. Then out of overwhelming curiosity I opened the letter and read the message. It read as follows,

Dear Frank,

It seems like years since I was in your arms. You have no idea how much I miss you and how excited I am about being with you again. I can hardly wait to be in your arms again and to smother you with tender kisses. I am excited about seeing you soon. Incidently, since I saw you last, it have come into a sizable inheritance. It will be yours to share with me as soon as we are married. I am counting the days until I see you again.

Love and kisses,

Jane

The question is, What meaning would that letter have for me? Of course, the answer is Absolutely none since it was not addressed to me. The Epistles of the New Testament were not addressed to mankind at large, but to believers in Christ. When Paul speaks of “us” and “us all,” he refers to all of us believers in Christ.

5. When Paul wrote, “how shall he not with him also freely give us all things” he is not referring to physical, material, and temporal blessings. God does not promise us health and material prosperity. He has not promised to give us everything our greedy little hearts may desire. I am not warranted by this verse to “believe God” for a jet airplane or for a vacation home in the Bahamas. I can only “believe God” for what God has promised. The words “all things” in this verse refer in context to all things that belong to our salvation, more specifically speaking, they refer to our glorification with Christ.

Consider the blessings Paul refers to as “these things” that should induce us to understand that God is for us.

1. He has declared us righteous in his sight and given us an entrance into a standing of grace (5:1- 2).

2. He has given his Son to die for us when we were still his enemies (5:6-10).

3. He has freed us from slavery to sin (6:6).

4. He has freed us from condemnation (8:1).

5. He has made us his heirs in union with Christ(8:16).

6. Before we were even born he determined to conform us to the image of his Son and in accordance with his purpose, he called us into union with Christ in whom believers are justified and glorified (8:28-30).

What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Paul’s argument is that our glorification is certain because the only being in the entire universe who has a right to be against us has shown himself to be for us.

Further he argues that if God has given us the greatest gift imaginable, the delivering up of his Son to death for his people, he will not withhold any lesser gift but will graciously give us everything that belongs to our salvation. He has too much invested in us to cast us off now.

12
Nov
13

“For Whom He Foreknew”–Romans 8:29

A proper understanding of the Bible’s teaching about “foreknowledge” is essential to an understanding of God’s predestined plan or purpose. The way in which we view this issue will determine how we understand the biblical doctrines of election and predestination. If we rightly understand the biblical doctrine of human depravity or inability, the idea this verse teaches that “foreseen faith” forms the basis of God’s choice of certain individuals for salvation is out of the question. That is to say, if we believe in the innate inability of an unregenerate person to seek God, the idea of God foreseeing a faith that is produced out of depraved nature, a faith that could not exist apart from divine intervention, is unthinkable. We have learned that the divine call produces faith and that the call is according to God’s eternal purpose, plan, counsel which was formed before time began. The order is, God’s purpose produces the call [God calls people because he has purposed to call them] and the call produces faith. In the scheme of those who believe in “free will” and not in “free grace,” what God purposes is determined by what he foresees will happen, and the call is unnecessary since the issue is determined by the sinner’s free will decision and not by God’s free grace. What is certain is that a sinner’s faith cannot be, at the same time, the determining factor in what God decides and the result of what God has decided.

Three Ways of Understanding “Foreknew”

We can think of the idea of foreknowledge in three ways. First, we can think of foreknowledge simply in terms of God’s omniscience of all things future. To my knowledge, the word is never used in this sense in the Bible though the idea that God knows all things future is clearly there. There is nothing “future” to God. God knows what will occur before it occurs. He dwells in eternity and sees every event as present. Isaiah 46: 10 informs us he “declares the end from the beginning and from ancient times things that are not yet done.” He knows about everything that is going to happen before it happens and he knows what his creatures will do before we do it. He knows about all his creatures and all their actions. In this sense, God foreknows everyone. Keep that thought in mind because it will become very important when we discuss the meaning of “foreknew” in Romans 8:29. The question is, does God determine what is going to happen because he foresees it, or visa versa? I believe the answer is he foresees what he has determined or purposed.

That brings us to the second sense in which “foreknowledge” is used. It is knowledge beforehand based on a divine decree. Jesus was handed over by the “determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (see Acts 2:23). Notice the order in which Peter mentions counsel or purpose and foreknowledge. It is not simply that God sees ahead of time what is going to happen and decides to go with it. We have already learned that God is actively involved in governing all his creatures and all their actions according to his purpose. The idea that God merely foresees what is going to happen and decides to “rubber stamp”it is foreign to the teaching of the Bible. The issue, then, is not whether God foresees the believer’s faith and final perseverance, but whether his foresight of that faith and perseverance is the reason he decided to choose them.

Third, we can think of foreknowledge as an intimate, loving, approval of people beforehand.

What Does “Foreknew” Mean in Romans 8:29?

What does the Text Actually Say?

If we simply read the plain text of Romans 8:29, do we find the words “Those in whom God foresaw faith?” Of course, unless you are reading from a paraphrase of the biblical text and not the text itself, you will not find these words. The text says absolutely nothing about God foreseeing anyone’s faith or perseverance. The text teaches that God foreknows people. Paul does not write about what he foreknew but about whom he foreknew.

God “Foresees” Everyone’s Actions and Responses

Let us assume for the moment the text actually reads “‘For whom God foresaw’ or ‘ For those whose actions and decisions God foresaw,’ he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son.” What would that mean? Since God has foreseen all events and all actions of all people, and since the text indicates nothing that limits what God foresaw, it would make Paul mean that God has predestined everyone without exception to be conformed to Christ’s image. God foresaw not only the actions and responses of those who will at some point believe the gospel; he foresaw everyone’s actions and responses. Even understanding that God’s knowledge extends to an intimate, penetrating, extensive acquaintance with every person’s inmost being and personality does not alleviate the problem. He knows everyone in this way. Unless we believe God has predestined everyone to be conformed to the image of Christ, we cannot consistently believe Paul is merely speaking about God’s extensive knowledge of all people, future events and future actions.

What Does God Foresee About All Sinners?

If God’s decree to save some ( i.e., restore his image in them and bring them to glory) and pass over others was based on what sinners will invariably do when confronted with the gospel, he would have decreed to pass over everyone. As we have shown, [foreseen] faith cannot be both the basis or cause and the effect of God’s decision to save. God cannot decree to save people based on his foresight of a faith that would never exist if he had not purposed to bring it about. Do passages like Psalm 14:1-3 say anything about God seeing some who would be willing to understand the things of God and seek a loving, believing, obedient and worshipful relationship with him? Of course, the answer is that God sees exactly the opposite. God sees that no one will seek such a relationship apart from his enabling grace. Nothing short of God’s inward call and his regenerating grace will cause sinners to seek after him.

The Importance of Context

Let us assume again that Paul intends us to understand that God has predestined to conform some people to Christ’s image based on his foresight of their persevering faith. How would that idea fit into the context of Paul’s argument in this passage?

The main point Paul continues to make in these verses is that if God has justified a person, he is certain to glorify that person. He has adduced argument after argument in support of that proposition. His argument in these verses is that the believer’s glorification is certain because the entire work of salvation, the work of bringing his chosen people to glory, is God’s work in fulfillment of his eternal, electing decree. That work has been likened to a chain that is anchored in eternity past and extends to the end of time. Every link in that chain represents some aspect of God’s work. It began with his sovereign purpose to redeem a people marked out for himself. He loved these chosen people before they ever had being and determined beforehand that he would conform them to the image of his Son. Then, according to that divine determination, he calls them out of the world, effectually uniting them to his Son. Since they are in union with Christ, he declares them righteous in his sight. Additionally, he guarantees their glorification because they are in him who has already entered into his glory.

Everything in these verses concerns God’s work of bringing his chosen people to glory. Paul does not even mention God’s work of sanctification. I would presume he omits any reference to that work because, unlike justification, it brings within its scope the believer’s works of obedience which, in this life, will never be perfect. God has promised that he will ultimately bring the believer to complete and perfect holiness, but that work is anything but complete in the present.

The point is these verses are about what God does, not what believers do. It would be completely incongruous to introduce the believer’s faith into this context. God does not love sinners because he foresees we are going to love him. We love him because he first loved us.

Use of the Words “Know” and “Foreknow” in the Scriptures

The Greek verb translated “foreknew” is the aorist tense (point action, usually past tense) form of the verb proginōskō. It is a compound verb made up of the words pro-before and ginōskō to know by experience, to regard with love, approve. The word ginōskō is used to translate the Hebrew (yada) in the LXX, the Greek translation of the Hebrew O.T. Consider a few examples of this word’s usage in the Old and New Testament Scriptures.

Genesis 4:1 “Now Adam knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain. . . .”

Psalm 1:6 “The LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

Amos 3:2 “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”

Nahum 1:7 “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.”

Matthew 1:24-25 “. . .he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. . . .”

Matthew 7:23 “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of iniquity.”

John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,”

2 Timothy 2:19 “ The Lord knows those that are his. . . .”

It is obvious this word is used of a knowledge that goes beyond awareness of facts about a person. Instead, it is used to express intimacy and approval. It carries with it the meaning “to regard with love.”

Consider also the use of the word proginōskō in the New Testament Scriptures:

“God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew” (Romans 11:2a).

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: May grace and peace be multiplied to you (1 Peter 1:1-2).

Notice the text reads “according to the foreknowledge of God,” not “based on the foreknowledge of God.” These people were not scattered abroad because God foresaw it would happen.

“He [Jesus] was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you (1Pet. 1:20).

In these verses, it is the people who were foreknown, not their actions.

Conclusion

What should we conclude about the idea Paul meant to convey in Romans 8:29? When we consider the actual words of the text without reading our own ideas into them, the context in which they are written, and the usage of the word in the rest of Scripture, there is only one conclusion we can reach. The word means to regard with loving approval beforehand. Paul could have well written,“For whom God loved before hand, he also predestinated. . . .” God’s choice of sinners to be conformed to his Son’s image was not a cold and arbitrary decree, but was according to his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses(see Eph. 2:4-5).

Questions for Study

1. In what three ways can we understand the words “foreknew” and “foreknowledge?”

2. What does Romans 8:29 say about God foreseeing faith?

3. Why is the word “whom” important in verse 29?

4. Since God foreknows everyone in the sense that he knows altogether about them and knows everything they will do or choose, could Paul have been using the term in the sense of foresight of future actions in Romans 8:29? If not, why not?

5. How does what God actually sees about sinners in a state of sinful nature (Psa. 14 for example) affect the question of foreseen faith as the basis of God’s saving decree?

6. How does the context of Paul’s main argument in this section affect this question?

7. What ideas are expressed by the word ginōskō in the Bible?

8. What do we learn by considering the of the use of proginōskō in the New Testament Scriptures?

9. As it is used in the New Testament Scriptures, does proginōskō refer to a knowledge of people or of their actions and decisions?

10. How could we legitimately translate Romans 8:29?

12
Nov
13

God’s Decreed Will and His Declared Will

We must distinguish between God’s decreed (or predestined) will and his declared (or prescribed) will. They differ in that:

1. God’s decree is not revealed to us. We only know an event was decreed by God after it has occurred. God’s prescribed will is revealed to us.

2. What God has decreed always occurs (Job 9:12, 23:13; Psa. 115:3; Dan. 4:35). What God declares often does not occur.

3. What God has decreed is often contrary to what he has declared or commanded. (see Gen. 50:20; 2 Sam. 16:5-12; Lk. 22:22; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28).

4. We are not responsible to fulfill God’s decree. We are responsible to obey his declared or revealed will.

This principle has application to the issues of evangelism, prayer, and everyday Christian living. Often people ask if God has chosen to save some and pass over others, why do we need to evangelize. Won’t God save them no matter what we do or don’t do? The answer is, we witness the gospel because God has commanded us to evangelize. We are not responsible to fulfill God’s decree, but we are responsible to obey his commands. Additionally, God uses the means he has commanded to accomplish his decreed will.

If God has decreed everything that will happen, why should we pray? Again, the answer is that God uses the means he has commanded to bring about his decreed purpose. From our point of view, prayer changes the circumstances we find ourselves in. James wrote, “you don’t have because you don’t ask.” From God’s point of view, prayer is merely the means for effecting his purpose.

The same principle applies to everyday decisions about living to the glory of God. We are not to try to figure out what God has decreed for us during a given day. We are to order our lives according to God’s will revealed in his Word.

“Providence is a Christian’s diary–but not his Bible.”
Thomas Watson

Study Questions

1. In what ways must we distinguish between the decreed will of God and his revealed will?
2. How do these principles help us understand our duty relative to evangelism, prayer, Christian living.
3. Cite two verses that indicate God always accomplishes his decreed will.
4. Cite three biblical examples in which what God has decreed is contrary to his declared will.
5. Consider the following verses and answer whether “God’s will” in the verse refers to his decreed will or his declared will.
Daniel 4:35
Matt. 6:10
Matt. 23:37
Rom.9:19
Eph. 1:5
Heb. 13:21
James 1:18
2 Peter 3:9
1 John 5:14-15

21
Nov
12

Grace Is Not A Four Letter Word

Grace is not a four letter word! One would think, nowadays, that in many circles one could sooner curse God´s name and get away with it than to extol his grace in the salvation of sinners. If we talk about God´s sovereign grace to sinners, we are told they are not favored merely out of God´s good pleasure, but because God foresaw they would use the power of free will, that is given to all sinners equally, more wisely than those who choose to remain in their sins and perish. If we talk about God´s blessings of grace that are freely given to his children in the course of their Christian lives, we are told that these blessings are ¨rewards¨ for our obedience. They can´t be gracious gifts of God, freely given to those who deserve anything but blessing; they must somehow be the result of human effort. The truth is, God has not promised his children physical and material blessings, and all the spiritual blessings we have experienced, are now experiencing, and will ever experience have been granted us as a gift of God’s grace in consequence of our union with Christ. I am not denying the believer’s responsibility to exert himself. I am denying that we exert ourselves to obtain blessings. Instead, we exert ourselves because we are blessed by grace.

The New Testament message is “Look what you have in Christ by God’s free grace. Now, act accordingly.” That is altogether different from saying, “In regeneration, God has given us a bag of tools. Now, if we are diligent in obeying his commands, we can earn rewards.” One is the message of grace. The other is the message of human merit.

The word “grace” is used in different ways in the New Testament Scriptures. At times, it means gracious, as in Colossians 4:6. “Let your speech be always with grace, i.e., gracious. . .” or beauty (see–James 1:11).

At times, it refers to the enablement God grants us to live a life that pleases him, “He gives more grace” (James 4:6).

It is used of acts of Christian virtue, e.g., “Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything-in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you-see that you excel in this act of grace also (2 Cor. 8: 6-7).

On occasion, it refers to gratitude as in 2 Cor. 9:15 and Hebrews 12:28. “Let us have grace, i.e., gratitude, through which we may serve God acceptably. . . .”

More often the word is used to express God’s free, unmerited gift of blessing and favor given to those who deserve his wrath and curse. It is a free gift given to those who not only did not merit it and could not repay it, but it is given to them though they actually deserved just the opposite. “It is by this grace we have been saved.” See Ephesians 2:8-9. Every aspect of this salvation, from eternity past to eternity future is by the grace of God. God’s choice of his people is by grace. “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11: 5-6). It was grace that moved Jesus to humble himself to give himself for our redemption (see- 2 Cor. 8:9; Hebrews 2:9). We are called to salvation by grace (see- 2 Tim. I:9; Gal. 1:15). It is God’s grace that perfects, establishes, strengthens and settles us. “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Pet. 5:10). Nothing good happens in the believer’s life that does not happen by grace. We are chosen by grace, cleansed by grace, called by grace, cultivated by grace, and we conquer by grace. We are more than conquerors, but it is all through him who loved us.

There is nothing to fear in the grace of God. It should not be our dread but our delight. Perhaps Phillip Dodderidge, in 1740, best described what should be in our hearts when we think of God’s amazing grace. He wrote,

Grace, ‘Tis a charming sound,
Harmonious to the ear;
Heaven with the echo shall resound,
And all the earth shall hear.

Grace first contrived a way
To save rebellious man;
And all steps that grace display
That drew the wondrous plan.

Grace first enscribed my name
In God’s eternal book.
‘Twas grace that gave me to the lamb
Who all my sorrows took.

Grace taught my heart to fear,
And made my eyes o’erflow.
‘Tis grace that kept me to this day.
And will not let me go.

Grace led my roving feet,
To tread the heavenly road.
And new supplies each hour I meet
While pressing on to God.

Grace all the work shall crown,
Through everlasting days:
It lays in heaven the topmost stone,
And well deserves the praise.