For the law never made anything perfect. But now we have confidence in a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
(Hebrews 7:19 NLT)
How does the Scripture say we draw near to God?
“You represent God as worse than the devil; more false, more cruel, more unjust. But you say you will prove it by scripture. Hold! What will you prove by Scripture? That God is worse than the devil? It cannot be. Whatever that Scripture proves, it never proved this; whatever its true meaning be. This cannot be its true meaning. Do you ask, “What is its true meaning then?” If I say, ” I know not,” you have gained nothing; for there are many scriptures the true sense whereof neither you nor I shall know till death is swallowed up in victory. But this I know, better it were to say it had no sense, than to say it had such a sense as this. It cannot mean, whatever it mean besides, that the God of truth is a liar. Let it mean what it will, it cannot mean that the Judge of all the world is unjust. No scripture can mean that God is not love, or that his mercy is not over all his works; that is, whatever it prove beside, no scripture can prove predestination.” — John Wesley
All Wesley does in this quotation is say that the Calvinist conception of God is worse than the devil, more false, more cruel, and more unjust. Taking that conclusion, he attempts to argue backwards by saying that, whatever evidence the Calvinist supplies, the conclusion will remain “that God is worse than the devil.”
As to his last statement, I will simply place Romans 8:28-30 and Ephesians 1:11, 12 for all to see:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.”
Anonymous asked: Pornography. How to break it? I honestly have the desire to, and I sometimes do for a couple weeks tops. But it always finds its way back. It's so deeply embedded, and it's messed me up psychologically. Need deliverance!
Hello, anon. Before we go further, let me begin by making this as clear as I possibly can: nothing I say to you will have absolutely any value unless you are disciple of Christ, by which I mean that your faith for salvation is in the effective, redemptive work of Christ on the cross evidenced by his resurrection. Unless that it is the ultimate reality that guides your life, any desire that you have to flee from sin will be ultimately me-focused, egoistic, prideful, and sinful. It will do you no good to flee from unrighteousness to righteousness unless your fleeing to righteousness is through the blood of Jesus Christ by the power of the indwelling and active Holy Spirit.
So, now that we have established that initial framework, let’s continue. First, I want to encourage you in Christ. The nature of Christ’s death and resurrection is world-changing. It effectively bears the wrath of every sin past, present, and future of every believer in Christ that has, is, or will ever exist.
Because Christ, as a perfect lamb without spot, bore the sins of all the children of God on the cross, every sin that every believer will commit is atoned for. It is covered. It is wiped away. And because Christ was resurrected, we know that his death was sufficient for our salvation.
In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His (the Father’s) grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence…
Ephesians 1:7, 8
Through and in Christ we have redemption. We have been bought from the grave. For that reason Paul reminds us that in Christ there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Christ’s death was sufficient to cover the sins of the children of God.
Now, there are a few reasons that God has saved us from our sins. The first, and primary, one is this:
- “According to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Ephesians 1:5b, 6a)
God is pleased in redeeming his children, and he does so that their may be eternal praise in his grace, which is accomplished in eternity. Meaning, the more aware we are of how sinful we are the more we are able to exult in the glory of God’s grace. When we being to understand the magnitude of the nature of God’s holiness and the magnitude of the nature of our sin and the inescapable fact that God’s grace is infinitely larger than our sin, when that begins to occur, we exult in his grace more and more daily. That is why Peter will tell the believers in his second epistle to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). As we more fully understand our sin and God’s holiness, we grow in the knowledge of God and we grow in the grace of God, for then we realize how desperately we need it. In Christ’s words,
Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.
A particular child of God is forgiven no more and no less than any other child of God; however, one particular child of God may be far more aware of his own sins, and as a result of God’s grace, than another.
So, looking back to the Ephesians 1 verse, as we more fully understand the depths to which God went to secure the redemption of his children, the more fully are we able to exult in his grace and in his glory, which is a driving motivation behind salvation.
The second driving force behind our salvation is a more practical, but only because of its nature, force for our salvation, and one that may help you more:
- “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” Ephesians 1:4
We were chosen, saved, indwelt with the Spirit, to be holy and blameless. That is what we strive for by the power of the Spirit upon receiving salvation. Therefore, as Paul exhorts in 1Corinthians,
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 6:19, 20
Now, I want to draw to your mind some key things that will help you.
- You were bought at a price, and therefore you are not your own. What price was it at which we were bought? It was with the precious blood of Christ, which is much more precious than gold or silver. (1 Peter 1:18-21) Keep in mind this precious blood of Christ whenever you are faced with temptation. Know that this blood was shed for every sin you and I will ever commit.
- If you are in love with the things of this world, the love of the Father is not in you. John is perfectly clear here: the love of the Father does not share a suite in your heart for the love of this world. It is all or nothing here. In the same way that Christ calls us to abandon all to follow him, we must abandon our affections for the things of this world to love God as we should, including the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. (1 John 2:15-17)
- We are set free from the things of this world by setting our eyes on heavenly things. That is how we avoid temptation, or at least walk in the power that the Spirit grants to rise above it. Paraphrasing John Piper, a little soul makes little temptations mighty and huge, whereas a large soul makes large temptations tiny and worthless. (Colossians 3:1-4)
There is hope. But that hope is only through the gospel of Jesus Christ, through which gospel we have been sealed by the Spirit and enabled to walk in the all-enabling power of God.
…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Paul, in prison, asks not for the chains to be loosed but for the fear in his heart to be removed and the gospel in his mouth to be unleashed with all its fury.
He argues that justice must be pursued for its own sake, that all virtues must be pursued for their own sake. Contrarily, vices are avoided for their own sake. (This attitude is contrasted with pursuing virtues for their benefits and avoiding vices for their costs.) I agree with Cicero to an extent, but his argument falls short in one key way: we pursue those virtues—justice, goodness, generosity, mercy, giving, etc.—not for their own sake but also not for their benefits. We pursue them because they emanate from God himself. Virtues are not a means to a worldly end; but they are also not ends in themselves. Virtues are a means to God, but they are only a means to God through Christ, who was the imminent glory of God on earth.
Being virtuous is not sufficient for salvation. However, it is necessary, for Christ has saved us for good works, and to live in a state of continual non-repentance is evidence of being lost. Because Christ’s nature has been imputed to us and imprinted on us, we must live virtuously. And we take great joy in doing so. Why? Because we were bought at a price to be children and priests of God, “not with gold that perishes, although it is refined by fire, but with precious blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:19) And since—both “for the reason that” and “since the time that” we have been bought with the precious blood of Christ, we are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance that [we] should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
A quote I have seen floating around Tumblr lately is, “Effort does not equal legalism.” How true this is! We ought to strive to live a holy and righteous life for the sake of Christ through the Holy Spirit. Strive, flee to, cling to the holy life to which you were called, “for once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8)
I leave you with this:
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from the fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:11, 12)
Christ did not come that we should love a moral life for our salvation. He came, died, and was resurrected so that we would be able to live a God-honoring, Christ-exalting, salty, brightly lit, and gospel-centered life.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.
Behold his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the father; he is full of grace and truth. Quickly, the time is at hand and the kingdom of God is coming. As our brother, Mr. Lewis has explained,
When the author walks onto the stage, the play is over.
When Christ returns, every knee will bow and confess, in the light of his majesty and beauty and power, that he was, is, and will be Lord. Repent, and joyfully serve the God of our salvation.
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.
Paul of Tarsus, Acts 20:26, 27
Paul, and every minister of the faith—which means every believer, is innocent of the blood of all men with whom we come into contact when we preach the whole counsel of God. There are some aspects of God that are unsettling to some, such as the hatred of God. However, you cannot simply dismiss them because they are unsettling. We declare the whole counsel of God, because, if were to do otherwise, what we promote is an idol and not the true God of Scripture.
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully on the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to your former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
The apostle Peter, 1 Peter 1:13-15