If God is no respecter of persons, why are we?

Am sitting at the car dealer having some work done, so I thought I would share a question.

Think about it. the Bible tells us that we are all in the same boat coming into this world – lost sinners, every one. Yet we treat some who profess Christ different than others.

Celebrities of all sorts who one day profess that they met Christ are instant ‘heroes’ of the faith and are put on pedestals. We might pray that they would connect with a Bible believing church or grow strong in their new found faith, but many times we just get all excited that so-and-so found Jesus and shout about it all over the place, as if their proclaiming Christ is somehow more special than all the normal average folks that God saves on a regular basis.

Why do we do that?

The Foreknowledge of God

Not long ago we wrote a blog post titled “The Most Precious Golden Chain?, the Golden Chain of Redemption, also called the ‘Ordo Salutis’, or ‘Order of salvation’, from Romans 8:29-30. Here are those passages with the links in that unbreakable Golden chain underlined:

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Rom 8:29-30)

The ‘links’ in this chain are foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification, to use the noun forms of what we are told that ‘he’ (GOD) ‘did’ for each and every one of his remnant people (the ‘whom’ in the passages). Once you understand God’s foreknowledge the remaining links are easier to understand.

The topic of this post is the first link in the chain, God’s foreknowledge, perhaps one of the most contentious issues in Christendom, right up there with ‘election’ and ‘predestination’. The intent of this post is a bit like the Fox News motto, ‘We Report, You Decide. This is not about convincing anyone of a personal opinion – that’s God business. J

Having said that, let’s tackle the first link in our chain, ‘Foreknowledge’.

The Definition of Foreknowledge

The meaning of the term is simple – it literally means ‘before’, or ‘earlier’ knowledge’ (Gr. ‘prognōsis’). In our passage of scripture we are told that God, based on knowledge He had beforehand, God took actions on behalf of those whom he would save from their sins. (see Matt 1:21).

The two definitions of foreknowledge in view here is that 1) God simply knows everything, which for most of us is true, and/or 2) God knows ‘His people’ in a much more intimate way. The question for us is “What does the Bible tell us about God and His knowledge? We’ll report and you can decide.

By far, the most prevalent definition among Christians in our day is the first definition, meaning that God looked down the corridors of time, saw those who would freely choose Him, then chose them to be the recipients of the other actions in our Golden Chain (predestination, calling, justification, & glorification). Let’s look at foreknowledge in Scripture.

First of all, the term foreknowledge/foreknow does not appear in the Old Testament, but it does appear in the New Testament:

In reference to Christ:

“this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge (prognōsis) of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” (Acts 2:23)

In reference to believers:

“ Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge (prognosis) of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.  (1 Pet 1:1-2)

In reference to Christ again:

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

Note that the same term is used in 1 Peter, verses 2 & 20, in reference to both Jesus Christ and believers. That might be rather significant.

But our question remains, “What does “for those whom he foreknew” mean in Romans 8:29? Which definition of foreknowledge is at play? Is it definition1, definition 2, or BOTH? Since we know what ‘fore’ means’ let’s now take a look at the term know and how it is used in Scripture. Here are just a few examples from both the OT and the NT, Hebrew (yada) & Greek (ginosko):

  • “Now Adam knew (yada) Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” (Gen 4:1)
  • “Before I formed you in the womb I knew (yada) you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer 1:5)
  • “You only have I known (yada) of all the families of the earth;” (Amos 3:2)
  • ”And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew (ginosko) you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matt 7:23)
  • “But if anyone loves God, he is known (ginosko) by God” (1 Cor 8:3)

There are more examples, but these verses clearly tell us that God’s ‘knowing’ of His people is much more intimate than just knowing about them or what they will or will not do.

So again, does the ‘foreknowledge’ of God simply mean ‘know beforehand’, that God knows beforehand the actions of men and acts in light of that knowledge (by far, the prevailing view these days), or does it mean more?

How we answer that question has implications concerning evangelism:

If we believe God saves based on the foreseen faith/free will decision of men, we can be prone to appeal to that ‘free will’ and share Christ in such a manner that that is appealing to the lost man, who is by nature at enmity with God, who dwells in darkness, hates the light and loves sin. What that means is making the gospel that is offensive to those whose hearts have not been opened by God, actually appealing. So we leave out the bits that talk about sin (they love theirs) and the need for confession and repentance because of it, and instead talk about how much Jesus loves, loves, loves and wants to make their lives better. Everything we do, from personal discussions about Jesus to our church services needs to become attractive in order to elicit a free will decision to follow Christ.

If we believe that God saves based on His intimate foreknowledge and predetermined will we need only lovingly share the gospel that Christ died for the sins of his people.

Regardless of what we believe, it is our great privilege to share the gospel far and wide!___________________________

There is much more  that can be said about the foreknowledge of God, and I hope this short summary will stimulate your spiritual thinking.

And as always I like feedback:

1. Did I accomplish my goal of just presenting the facts? I’d love to hear your opinion.

2. What’s your belief concerning God’s foreknowledge and why? No answer necessary, just think about it.

In a future post, I’ll share some thoughts about what I believe and why. I believe it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Romans 8:6-10 & 1 Corinthians 2:14: A Tale of Two Minds

Romans 8:6-10 (ESV)

6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

In these few verses addressed to believers in Rome and Corinth, the Apostle Paul describes and contrasts two types of human thinking, two mindsets or worldviews, if you will.

In our Romans passage, Paul speaks of ‘the mind set on the flesh’ and ‘the mind set on the Spirit’. He contrasts the old ‘natural’ mental state of the unregenerate (unbelievers) with the ‘new ’natural’ state of born-again believers in Christ. I use the term ‘new’ natural in reference to believers because while we are still capable of carnal/fleshly thoughts, our new nature in Christ changes our thought lives. You might say that believers are capable of being ‘double’ minded, while unbelievers, without the Spirit of God, are very ‘single’ minded and completely incapable of understanding spiritual truths (1 Cor 2:14). In fact, a carnal mind (the only one available to the unregenerate) cannot please God (Rom 8:8)!

Some Logical Implications:

1. It takes a supernatural act of God to raise a spiritually dead (carnally minded) person to spiritual life capable of spiritual understanding.

2. Spiritual understanding is necessary to comprehending the gospel message that Christ died for the sins of his people.

3. Free will decisions of unregenerate people don’t please God because unregenerate people cannot please him.

4. Regeneration necessarily precedes genuine saving faith, which pleases God.

So how is anyone saved?

Romans 8:29-30 (ESV)

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

Those whom are foreknown by God WILL be brought to glorification by the same God.

Does this mean that there are those who are not foreknown in the same way who will die in their sins? That is an inescapable conclusion, dear friend. And while we don’t know who they are, we are called to share Jesus with all whom we meet. Not only did God decree and bring to pass the salvation of his remnant people, he also decreed the means by which he would save his elect – the preaching of the gospel, That is our great privilege.

God gives life to cold dead sinners, and like Lydia in Acts 16, opens their hearts to heed the message of the gospel that we bring!

The Most Precious Golden Chain?

Do you like gold chains? Most, if not all of us, certainly do. Go to a jewelry store and you’ll find a wide variety of them, different styles designed for various uses, for both men and women. Am I right? That’s a rhetorical question. Personally, I don’t have any because I’m just not into jewelry. Some men are; just ask Mr. T (remember him?)! Our oldest son, when he was about 4 years old, just about had a fit when he say what I called a ‘Mr. T Starter Kit’ and Mom didn’t want to buy it for him.

Nevertheless,. There is one Golden Chain that many believers (if not most of us), aren’t all that fond of. It’s the Golden Chain of Redemption and it’s found in Romans 8, Verse 29-30:

“For those who he (God) foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brother. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified”

Essentially, what we have are five links in an unbreakable chain, about a group of people who were ‘foreknown’ by God and also ‘predestined’, ‘called’, ‘justified’, and ‘glorified’.

Of these 5 links, the first two are outside of time, as we know it. God both foreknew and predestined this particular group of people outside of time as we know it. We have a clue concerning ‘how far’ outside of time as we know it in Ephesians 1 and 2 Thessalonians:

The next two links are inside of time as we know it. Each person in this group of ‘foreknown’ and ‘predestined’ ones is ‘called’ and ‘justified’ during his/her  lifetime, in preparation for the final link, ‘glorification’, when they are all raised in newness of life to be with Jesus forever. Is that beautiful, or what!?

The chain is unbreakable in at least two ways. First, it is God who is performs all of the actions represented in these 5 golden links. If that isn’t enough to prove the indestructible nature of our chain,  each of these Divine actions is presented to us in the past tense, meaning that from God’s perspective, it’s a done deal! Each and every person of whom this text speaks, everyone ‘foreknown’ of God WILL be ‘glorified’!

Sadly, whatever ‘foreknown’ means in our text, there are those who will not be saved but will die in their sins. The Bible speaks of those who will suffer eternal punishment rather than eternal life. That means that there are those who are NOT ‘foreknown’ in the sense of our text. But that’s another post.

The question for you today, my friend, is this:

“Are you to be found somewhere in this Golden Chain?”

I can assuredly proclaim that if you have been convicted of your condition in sin, have repented of it, and believed in Christ as your Savior and Lord, you are not only ‘found in’ this Chain, but you are eternally secure in its warm embrace! If you are a believer in Christ you were indeed ‘foreknown’ by God, ‘called’ by God into a Holy life, ‘justified’ by the blood of Christ and will one day be ‘glorified’!

This is cause to rejoice and be exceedingly glad!

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For this Christ came. . .

The Battle Cry

ISAIAH 53

1  Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2  For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

3  He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4  Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

5  But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

6  All we like…

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Lauren Daigle and the State of Contemporary Christian Music

A little over a month ago Christian Daigle , award winning Christian singer (on secular and Christian charts) appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show and sang one of her songs from the album “Look Up Child”. She was bashed for even appearing on the show. My question was whether or not a clear presentation of the gospel was anywhere to be found. My assumption was ‘probably not’, given that her host was crazy about her.

What I did do is download all of the lyrics to all of the songs on the “Look Up Child’ album. And gather some statistics using several key words, which could at least tell me if a clear gospel message was present in any of her songs. Here are the numbers for the 11 songs from the album:

  • The word “sin” appears 1 time – “O’er us sin no more hath dominion” in a line from the song “Turn Your Eyes on Jesus” she did NOT even write. but was written in 1922 by Helen Lemmel  Like many others Ms. Daigle just re-styled it and called it her own.
  • “God” appears 1 time in one song.
  • “Jesus” appears in “Turn your eyes on Jesus” (she didn’t write it)
  • “Savior” 3 times
  • “Lord” 1 time
  • “You/your” as reference to God/Jesus 40+ times
  • “Saved” is used 1 time (You saved me, but no mention of from what

Sadly, the above lyrics reflect the tenor of a LOT of today’s so-called worship music. One article expressed the state of things rather well. It was called “32 Lyrics From Lauren Daigle’s ‘Look Up Child’ That Will Put You Squarely In Your Feels”.

These days ‘worship’ is all about our ‘feels’. Whether it’s the lyrics and presentation (Lauren has a tremendous voice!), the rock style music with loud whining chords and pounding drums (that actually drown out the lyrics, or the concert atmosphere, it’s all about the ’feels’.And when the lyrics can be understood, they seem to lack any clear presentation of a solid gospel message, very little actual theology with much of it really BAD theology (God’s love is ‘reckless’?).

The saddest part of all, is the sheer number of professing ‘Christ followers’ who have absolutely no issues with Ms. Daigle or the myriad of other CCM artists just like her. Must be the ‘feels’.

So much for my little rant. There’s nothing personal directed at any particular CCM artist, it just is what it is.

Heavy sigh…………

Dan C.

10 Lessons From the Death of John Chau

by Jordan Standridge, The Cripplegate

Would you be willing to die for the Gospel?

That’s a question every Christian needs to ask themselves. And really, it should be a part of our discussions in Sunday school with our kids and everyone we evangelize. We aren’t just calling people to new life, we are calling people to die to self and be willing to die for the sake of others.

I think that’s an appropriate take away from the news of John Chau’s death. I’ve been thinking about John Chau almost non-stop since I heard about his death.

If you haven’t heard yet, a young man who had been praying about a specific unreached tribe on the North Sentinel Island in India, was killed as he went ashore with the hopes of bringing the Gospel to them.

The response has been all over the map. Some articles seemed to suggest that he was some guy on vacation who happened to hear about this unreached tribe so close to him, and decided to take a boat ride on shore despite being warned about the danger. Some articles who knew he had been working for quite some time to reach these specific people questioned his love for them because he was immorally exposing them to disease that would certainly kill them upon contact.

It has also sparked strong discussion about missionary work. Let’s just say this story has caused me to reflect. And I have come up with a few lessons we can all learn from this event, while being mindful of the fact that we don’t have all the details yet.

1.  We should be willing to die for the Gospel

John Chau was willing to die for the Gospel. You can criticize his strategy or his support system if you’d like, but he understood a very simple truth and that is “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Souls are at stake, and sometimes, in order to reach them, some will die. Every single disciple willingly suffered harm and was willing to die for the Gospel. And we should too.

2.  How will they hear unless we go?

By all accounts, India is angry with John Chau. In fact, they are so angry that they have arrested the seven people who helped him get to the tribe. By all accounts, this tribe has been in existence for a really long time without ever having contact with the outside world. India seems to be not only comfortable with this, but outlawing any contact with the tribe.

As comfortable as they were with this, John wasn’t, and he decided that it was worth his life to go and try to talk to them. We know that whether they hear or not, it doesn’t change their destination. But we need to realize that this is just a stark reminder that God reaches people through ordinary people like me and you who are willing to go and tell people who haven’t heard.

3.  We need the church

All the information isn’t out yet, but I sure hope John Chau’s family attends a church that will help shepherd them through this time. I’m sure this was true about him, but I would add that this is a reminder about the importance of each missionary having a strong sending church. Many missionaries give up great paying careers, the comforts of family and friends, and living in first world countries for the sake of reaching the lost.  They are in absolute need of sending churches and elders to help shepherd them through decisions. They are in desperate need of fellow believers’ prayers. Whether you are a campus minister, a foreign missionary, or a street evangelist, you’re a fool if you don’t align yourself with a local church and submit to their leadership. You literally cannot live without it.

4.  We need teams

Again we don’t know if John had a team, but it is safe to say that teams are essential at least for the average Joe. There are missionary accounts where folks went alone and succeeded, but that is rare and takes a special type of person and family to accomplish. We need others in our lives in order to encourage us, confront us, and keep us accountable. We need people with different skill sets to work with us and to help us in areas that we may struggle in. I don’t know what John’s long-term strategy was, but this is a stark reminder that we need someone with us who is willing to die for the Gospel and die for each other.

5.  We don’t need to listen to the world

The world can’t understand. Even if you explain it to them slowly and as clearly as you can, all they hear is utter foolishness. The Gospel itself is foolish to the ears of the perishing as the Bible tells us (1 Cor. 1:18). No church or ministry should get any advice from the world, and yet it seems to be a trend these days. Cultural wars abound, and it seems to me that many churches and individuals are very interested in what the world thinks.  The worlds reaction to this story is a helpful reminder that the world simply can’t understand, and to take our cues from them is the thing that is actually foolish.

6.  People willing to die are hard to come by

I’m just shocked by the outrage by not only unbelievers, but some believers as well. I’m sure I have disagreements with Chau on his theology, but I do appreciate his seeming love for the Gospel and the lost. Simply put, there aren’t that many Christians willing to risk everything for Christ. Sure, I do believe that most Christians with a gun to their head would pledge allegiance to Jesus, but sadly, it takes a lot to move us out of our comfort zone. You can criticize John Chau all you want, but I pray that we are willing to get out of our comfort zone for the sake of the lost.

7.  We need to support missionaries

Missionaries need our support. Of course, if everyone goes then no one can be supported to go. Some of us who would like to go have to stay back. But our money can go a long way. The best way you can use your money is to give it to a church that is serious about Gospel work. They demonstrate it by trying to reach their own neighbors and by sending missionaries to other countries. The next thing you can do is find a couple of missionaries who you’re excited about and faithfully give to them. That’s an investment that keeps giving dividends for eternity.

8.  We need to pray for missionaries

Missionaries are at constant risk. The devil and his angels hate them especially, and want them to fail. He targets their families and marriages, their health and their bodies, their finances and their emotions. They are in constant need of prayer. They are making decisions that really could affect entire nations. It is important that everyone reading this has a missionary that they are praying for on a consistent basis.

9.  We need loads of training

Not going to hard mission fields is not an option. We must go, but we must strategize. We need to be ready. We need teams and we need training. It isn’t an option to just pack up and leave. We must train. Doctors train years before they ever do their first surgery. Lawyers train for years before they ever stand before a jury. In an even more serious way, missionaries must train for years to prepare for the mission field. Seminary is not an option for those who seek to bring the Gospel to other countries. At the very least, one of the members of the team must be seminary trained in order to be ready to start a church. It’s not enough to have a few verses and songs memorized–that’s enough to have a gospel conversation, but not enough to start a church.

10.  We need to be willing to die for the Gospel

Have I said this yet? All jokes aside, this is a non-negotiable of the Christian life. I hope I’m not shocking you. John 15:20-21 is clear:

“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.”

Even though we may disagree with his approach or theology, John Chau reminds us of an important truth. A slave is not greater than his master