Particular Redemption

Reposted in whole from “A Puritan’s Mind

Limited Atonement

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is not limited in its power to save, but in the extent to which it reaches and will save certain individuals.

Limited atonement is a theological term that has been used for centuries to define a very important aspect of the Gospel. It is a fundamental Christian doctrine which states that Jesus Christ came and died for a limited number of people. He did not die, or redeem, every individual for all of time, but for some individuals, i.e. His sheep and His church. This does not mean that the power of His death could not have saved all men if He wanted to. The power and efficacy of His death in and through one drop of His blood could have saved a million-billion worlds. That was not what God intended. The Scripture does not dabble in “possibilities.” It does, however, state that the scope of His death is limited.

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Destroying Strongholds

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“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to Christ…” – 2 Cor. 10:4-6 (ESV)

The recent promulgation on SSM by the SCOTUS is quite simply yet another stronghold, or fortress, that’s been erected against the knowledge of God.

This should come as no surprise to Christians, because fallen man in his vain imaginings is ever industrious building philosophical strongholds in which he tries to hide himself from his Creator and Judge.

There are all manner of these spiritual fortresses, and they take many forms, but they’re all alike in that:

i.) they are the works of men
ii.) they stand over against the knowledge of God, and
iii.) they are in opposition to Christ

They are also alike in another important way – they can be destroyed by the weapons of our warfare, with which God has equipped His people.

It’s very important for God’s people to think deeply and Biblically so that we may be equipped to destroy the strongholds (and arguments) of the fallen world system which are not in submission to Christ.

For many this may mean spending more time in prayer, in God’s Word, and with God’s people in order to be better equipped to “Go therefore…”

Quotes (9)

Nothing is a greater bar to a minister’s usefulness, or renders him more contemptible than a known attachment to money, a gripping fist and a hard heart.

A day will come when mercenary preachers will wish they had begged their bread from door to door or had been chained to the oar of a galley for life rather than have presumed to intrude into the church such base and unworthy views.

– John Newton

1725 – 1807

Religion and Politics

My departed Grandpa used to tell me, “Boy, don’t get dragged into an argument about religion and politics, cuz it’s an argument you can’t win.”

While I think there’s some industrial strength wisdom in the gist of his advice, I don’t think it’s possible, much less advisable, for Christians to avoid conversations about these subjects – notice I said conversations not arguments.

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. – Titus 3:9

The apostle Paul wrote to Titus who was dealing with a whole host of issues in Crete. Titus, like 1 & 2 Timothy, is known as a Pastoral Epistle because its focus is exhortation of the local pastor to be sound in doctrine (orthodoxy) and piety (orthopraxy) in the face of accusations, assaults, and attacks by false religionists. Recently I’ve been thinking about the ancient world as compared to our so-called post-modern world, and in the light of scripture it’s clear that people are basically Cretans in every culture and age – they are God-hating, self-loving, prideful, perverse, wretchedly wicked sinners.

One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. – Titus 1:12-13

The “Preacher” in Ecclesiastes 1:9 sums things up nicely:

“What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.”

The ancient world was also a hodge-podge of what modernists might refer to as “multiculturalism”. The Jerusalem of David and Solomon was strategically situated smack-dab in the middle of an important crossroads in the ancient world. Ideas and armies, philosophies and nations flowed freely through this important geographic region; and the all-wise God sat His crown jewel, His shining city on a hill upon Mount Moriah so that she would be a witness of His glory to the nations. But the adulteress failed in her mission, becoming a byword and a wonder, her people cast to the four corners of the world in righteous judgment, only to be restored again, thereby opening the way for the True Israel to come.

Not unlike ancient OT Jerusalem in her glory, in the NT era Rome was also a bustling bastion of mixed humanity. Rome was the seat of power for the greatest empire the world had ever known, trampling and subduing the nations of the world by the military might of her well-organized, well-funded, and well-trained legions. And despite her subsequent oppression of the church, in God’s providence Rome provided a relative peace, infrastructure (the famous Roman roads), and a level of civilization unprecedented in the ancient world which allowed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to move swiftly throughout the empire, and beyond.

The inspired Apostle rightly perceives God’s all-encompassing and overarching sovereignty over all things great and small, including the nations of men:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. – Romans 13:1

And the Scriptures further emphasize God’s absolute rule over the nations:

When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all humankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel – Deuteronomy 32:8

You shall be driven away from human society, and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like oxen, and seven times shall pass over you, until you have learned that the Most High has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals and gives it to whom he will – Daniel 4:32

From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live – Acts 17:26

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” – Romans 9:17

The preceding proof texts barely begin to scratch the surface of God’s use of human governments and societies as means to bring about His ends. Consider the nations He raised up against rebellious Israel, the nations He judged using faithful Israel, and the nations He will gather together on the Great and Terrible Day of Lord in the battle of Armageddon where His enemies will be destroyed by the brightness of His coming!

But what am I getting at here?

What’s my point?

Why all the seemingly random, disconnected thoughts?

It’s just this – to all my friends who are caught up in religion and politics – please take a deep breath, stop for a moment, and deeply consider the absolute priority of the Eternal Gospel of Grace.

Democrats need Jesus. Republicans need Jesus. Independents need Jesus. Libertarians need Jesus. Tea-Partiers need Jesus. Socialists need Jesus. Communists need Jesus. Illegal immigrants need Jesus. Homosexual activists need Jesus. Proposition 8 supporters need Jesus. Proposition 8 opponents need Jesus. Mormons need Jesus. Oneness Pentecostals need Jesus. Jehovah’s Witnesses need Jesus. Seventh-Day Adventists need Jesus. Roman Catholics need Jesus. Baptists need Jesus. Charismatics need Jesus. Lutherans need Jesus. Presbyterians need Jesus. Anglicans need Jesus. Scientologists need Jesus. Jews need Jesus. Muslims need Jesus. Buddhists need Jesus. Hindus need Jesus. Atheists need Jesus. Your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances, and fellow church members need Jesus.

God thoughtfully placed you right where you are today for a reason – to glorify Him.

How can you glorify Him more than by declaring His amazing grace as it’s contained in the Gospel?

Who are you going to tell?

Go, therefore.

Quotes (8)

God’s electing a certain definite number is a manifestation of His glory. It shows the glory of His divine sovereignty. God is declaring His absolute sovereignty over His creation. He is showing us just how far that sovereignty extends. In purposely choosing some and passing on others, He shows that His majesty and power are unparalleled. Those who do not see glory and dominion in election simply do not understand God. They are not aware of His greatness, and do not understand grace. Grace is defined in election. God chose His people to happiness and glory long before they were born. He chose them out of the mass of fallen mankind. He loved them before they knew Him. He chose them when they did not deserve to be chosen. That is grace! The doctrine of election shows that if those who received God’s grace had earnestly sought it, it was God’s grace that caused them to seek it. It shows that even their faith itself is the gift of God, and their persevering in a way of holiness unto glory is also the fruit of electing love. Believer’s love of God is the fruit of and because of God’s love to them. The giving of Christ, the preaching of the gospel, and the appointing of ordinances are all fruits of the grace of election. All the grace that is shown to mankind, either in this world or in the world to come, is comprised of the electing love of God.

– Jonathan Edwards

1703 – 1758

God's Sovereign Work in Salvation

37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. – John 6:37-50

The following excerpts are taken from “DAILY READINGS FROM THE LIFE OF CHRIST” by John MacArthur; pages 154~159 (May 25th ~ May 30th daily devotions).

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

Jesus was not discouraged, even though the crowd responded negatively to Him. The all-powerful sovereignty of the Father anchored Jesus’ confidence in His mission’s success. He was certain that everyone whom His Father gave Him – the collective body chosen before the foundation of the world – would come to Him. The story of redemption is one of calling this bride (the church) for the Son as a love gift from the Father. Every soul given by God to Christ is an expression of the Father’s irresistable love; thus everyone given “will come” to the Son.

From the perspective of human responsibility, “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30; cf Rom. 10:13). Yet salvation does not depend on “the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13; cf. Rom. 9:16). God is the One who grants both repentance (Acts 11:18) and faith (Eph. 2:8-9). If that were not so, nobody would come to Him, since “there is none who seeks for God” (Rom. 3:11; cf. Eph. 2:1-3).

God’s sovereignty in salvation is foundational to Christianity:

When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48).

[He] has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity (2 Tim. 1:9; cf. John 6:44; Rom. 8:28-30)

“…whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

Jesus describes the one whom the Father gives to Him as “the one who comes to Me”. From God’s view, He sovereignly gives us to the Son; from our view, we come to Christ. Jesus would never reject anyone who comes as a love gift from God, thus the words “I will certainly not cast [that one] out.” True saving faith never works in vain because it is divinely prompted (cf. Eph. 2:4).

Though the concepts of divine sovereignty and human responsibility seem to us impossible to harmonize, there is no such conflict in the mind of God (cf. Deut. 29:29). For example, both are at work in the Christian’s mission of evangelism (e.g., Matt. 24:14; 28:19; Acts 8:25; 14:15; 16:10).

The disunity within the Godhead of Christ’s rejecting any part of God’s gift to Him is inconceivable, as Jesus’ statement “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” shows (cf. 4:34; 5:30; Matt. 26:39). In His High Priestly Prayer Jesus told the Father, “I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (17:4; cf. 14:31). The truth that Jesus came to earth to fulfill the Father’s purposes thus guarantees salvation for members of the elect and ensures their eternal security.

“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”

God’s sovereign oversight in the entire salvation process is evident in the promise that it’s the Father’s will “that of all that He has given” to the Son, Christ will “lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” It is a wonderful reality to know with absolute certainty, based on the infallible promises of the Father (cf. 6:40, 44, 54), that no part of His chosen group – which He assigned to Jesus Christ in eternity past and gives to Him in historical time – will ever be lost. This is an ironclad guarantee to all true believers that their salvation is eternally secure. Jesus repeated this comforting promise in the strongest terms when He told the disciples:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)

In His High Priestly Prayer, Jesus underscored the safety of His own when He told the Father, “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition [Judas Iscariot], so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” (John 17:12)

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

The letters of the New Testament support Jesus’ teaching on the perseverance and protection of believers. Paul instructed the Romans:

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 bretheren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified (Rom. 8:29-30)

This passage is called by some the “golden chain of salvation”. The apostle adroitly connects the whole salvation process from eternity past to eternity future with a series of indestructible links of the divine chain. None whom God brings into His family will be lost along the way (cf. 8:31-39), but they will persevere until the day of Christ (Phil. 1:6; cf. Col. 3:3-4; Rev. 19:14).

Peter’s first letter further elaborates on the theme:

[Those] chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood…[will] obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for [them], [because they] are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:1-2, 4-5; cf. Jude 1, 24-25).

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

These solemn words of Jesus underscore humanity’s inability and utter helplessness to savingly respond to Him apart from God’s sovereign call. If God through the Holy Spirit did not efficaciously draw sinners to Jesus Christ, no person would ever come to Christ on his own strength and will (cf. 6:37).

There are plenty of scriptural reasons for fallen mankind’s complete inability to come to Jesus by human power or wisdom. The unregenerate are dead in sin (Eph. 2:1), slaves to unrighteousness (Rom. 6:6), alienated from God (Col. 1:21), hostile to Him (Rom. 8:7), spiritually blind (2 Cor. 4:4), trapped in Satan’s kingdom (Col. 1:13), powerless to change their sinful natures (Jer. 13:23), unable to please God (Rom. 8:8), and incapable of understanding spiritual truth (1 Cor. 2:14).

The human will must be at work in someone’s coming to Christ, because God does not save anyone apart from the person’s believing the gospel (Mark 1:15; Rom. 1:16; 10:9-15). But sinners can’t come to Jesus completely of their own free will; the Holy Spirit instead effectively draws to the Son only those whom God chose from eternity past (Eph. 1:4-5, 11).

Jesus here again repeats the marvelous promise that He will raise all the elect on the last day (cf. vv. 39-40,54). As believers, we can know that as those who have come to Him, the Father will perfectly keep us. Not one of us will be lost.

No Degrees of Deadness

by John Samson

The company is not doing well this quarter. Sales are down. Potential customers are not buying. The sales team manager needs to get things moving. Someone has to make a sale and quickly. What is the sales team leader to do? Well one thing he could do is to send his team down to the morgue and have his sales team get some sales amongst the dead, selling their nasal sprays, their foot massager machines and their electronic toothbrushes. But sadly, things don’t go too well. The dead seem to have no interest in anything the sales team has to say, in spite of the positive smiles and highly developed and well rehearsed sales pitch. Even at the morgue, no sales are made; for one simple reason, the dead are, how shall we say it? … errr.. dead!

A silly scenario? Yes, of course! But lets think about this as it relates to man’s condition outside of Christ. He is not vibrant and healthy; nor merely under the weather a little, and not just extremely sick about to breathe his last breath. God says that man is actually dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). The Greek word for dead here is necros, meaning dead like a corpse. There are no signs of spiritual life. It is a hopeless case.

DEAD MAN WALKING – Born D.O.A. (dead on arrival) unless a man is born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Outside of Christ, he has a zombie like existence. He is dead but walks around. He goes to tennis games or movie theaters or even to church – just never to Christ. Its not in him to do so because he is dead spiritually. He cannot come to Christ not because of some physical handicap but because of a morally depraved heart that seeks only independence from Christ. He may at times wish for the benefits of belonging to the kingdom of God – but never does he want the King of the kingdom.

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