Who CAN (is able) come to Christ?

This is a blast from the past (2011) worthy of repeating…

The Battle Cry

Is anyone and everyone able to come to Christ, solely in the strength of human will? What, if anything, does the Bible have to say about who can (has the ability) come to Christ? For the moment, lay any doctrinal position you already have aside and just focus on the words in the pages of Scripture.

No one cancome to me unlessthe Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyonewho has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” – John 6:44-45

Those who are drawn by the Father, and who have heard from and learned from the Father are able to come to Christ. We are in fact told that they will come.

“. . .no one can come to…

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The REST of the Verse – 2 Peter 3:9

It’s been said by some biblical scholars that the three most important rules for a proper and thorough understanding of the text of Scripture are Context, Context, & Context. By that we mean:

  • The immediate context in a section or chapter of Scripture
  • The larger context of a particular book in the Bible
  • The broad context of the entire Bible and God’s plan for his children

I freely admit that some passages of Scripture can be valuable in and of themselves as precious promises, words of comfort, or even admonition or warning. They can also be used to ‘prove’ one’s personal opinion or preferred interpretation. Examining context can therefore be not only profitable, but at times harmful.

With that said, let’s examine 2 Peter 3:9.  

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing (“willing”, KJV) that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance”. (2 Pet 3:9, ESV)

We are not concerned so much with what we think it means or what we might want it to ‘prove’, but only what it is actually telling us in the three contexts mentioned above (chapter, book, the entire Bible). We can ask a few simple questions to accomplish our goal.

1. To whom is it written?

First of all, we know that the Apostle Peter wrote it, along with another, earlier letter (1 Peter) to a person or group of people called “you”. (The KJV and a few other translations use the term “us-ward”, or simply “us”.) If we look at the first chapters of 1 & 2 Peter letters’ greetings to his hearers, we are told exactly to whom they were written:

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,” (1 Pet 1:1)

“Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:”(1 Pet 2:1)

From those two greetings we know that Peter was writing to a group of God’s chosen people scattered across Asia Minor (1 Pet 1:1) and that they were fellow believers (2 Pet 1:1). That’s important.

2. What does it mean that “God is not slow to fulfill his promise? What promise?

In addition to our subject verse (2 Pet 3:9), Peter also writes:

“. . .you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your
apostles,  knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. “They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”(2 Pet 3:2-4)

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” (2 Pet 3:10)

When Peter said “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise” he was referring to the day of the Lord, and not wanting any of God’s chosen people (elect exiles) to perish, but that they all would come to repentance and been saved.

3. What about the context of the entire Bible concerning God’s chosen people and salvation? Is there a wider application to be found in 2 Peter 3:9?

Although there are numerous places in Scripture where God’s promises for his chosen people are  declared, I think Peter answered our third and final question quite clearly:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet 1:3-5)

The Apostle Paul also summarized it even more succinctly:

 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6)

So regardless of what you have believed about 2 Peter 3:9, now you have. . .

. . .the REST of the verse!

Be Blessed!

 

What Does it mean to Come to Christ?


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Before we take a closer look at it really means to “come” to Christ, we need to realize that the term “come” must be understood spiritually and not carnally. We know this because the Bible tells us that our natural mind is actually hostile to God:

Rom 8:7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. (Rom 8:7)

The Bible also tells us that the natural man is unable to understand spiritual matters:

“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor 2:14)

Our coming to Christ not merely a matter of obeying God’s commandments, attending a Church service, going to a Bible study, listening to Christian music, or even reading the Bible. Anyone can do all of those things. Genuine coming to Christ is a spiritual matter.

With that understanding, we, can now try and describe our “coming” to Christ. To paraphrase John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress author John Bunyan described it as a “moving of the mind towards him”, from “a sound sense of the absolute want that a man has of him (Christ) for his justification and salvation.”

In simpler terms, when a person realizes his/her spiritually lost condition in sin, and that justification and salvation are only to be found in Christ, that person willingly comes to Christ. Coming to Christ involves both the will and the heart. So how can we describe those who genuinely come to Christ? Consider these evidences:

· They come with prayers, supplications and tears, demonstrating their heartfelt need for mercy.

“With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.” (Jeremiah 31:9)

  • They ‘run’ to Christ, fleeing the wrath to come. Realizing their desperate condition in sin and that Christ is the only way of escape, they fly to safety as fast as they can. (Matt 3:7; Psa 143:9).
  • A genuine coming to Christ is marked by a clear sense of an absolute need of Jesus Christ to save and evident from the outcries of those even as they are coming to him. Consider the following examples:

PETER WALKING ON WATER

“But when he (Peter) saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” . (Matthew 14:30)

PETER PREACHING AT PENTECOST

“Now when they (the crowd) heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)

THE PHILIPPIAN JAILER

“Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30)

  • A genuine coming to Christ is accompanied by an honest and sincere forsaking everything to follow him.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)

The above evidences describe all those who have, or are coming to Christ. Anyone genuinely coming to Christ for salvation casts leaves everything behind and forsaking all to follow Christ. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer so eloquently said in his book The Cost of Discipleship:

“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die”

When we glance at today’s evangelical environment, we can see example after example of invitations to come to Christ for a multitude of reasons focused on what we mortals desire most in this life (our best lives now), rather than what God has done for us in sending his Son do die for our sins. Some have called them “adventures in missing the gospel.”

Anyone who truly comes to Christ comes because of being spiritually awakened to the reality of their sin, the dire consequences of it, and the reality that Jesus Christ is the only escape from the just wrath of God.

My desire is that everyone who reads this has truly come to Christ and is faithfully serving him in whatever vocation they find themselves. If not……..

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Fully Equipped!

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If we were to break that down into outline form we could say that Scripture is:

1. Breathed out (inspired) by God and given to man

2. Profitable for:

  • Teaching
  • Reproof (proof or conviction)
  • Correction
  • Training in righteousness

3. So that:

  • The man of God may be complete
  • The man of God is fully equipped for every good work

Rather straightforward and easily understood, is it not? Scripture contains everything anyone might need to live a godly life and faithfully serve our God.

While I was serving in the Army, there were several stages to becoming ‘fully’ equipped. The first stage was at the reception station when I enlisted. Once assigned to a Special Forces unit after initial training (basic & advanced), stage 2 kicked in and there was another set of equipment given to all new members of the unit. Then, after being assigned to a specific operational detachment (‘A Team), another set of specialized equipment was issued, depending on the specific mission of the Team (mountain, scuba, HALO, Special Wpns, etc.), and the specific position to be manned on the Team (medical, demolitions, communications, weapons, etc.).

I’m sure you could discover the same ‘equipping for performance’ principal exists for most jobs, for every sort of occupation, in every labor sector. Do you see the glaring comparison between Scripture’s sufficiency for equipping the man of God for every good work in the Kingdom and what’s be needed for earthy vocations? What a blessing God has provided his children!

Another point to be made here is that our passages tells us that being fully equipped for Christian service is connected in some way to all of scripture. That statement brings to mind the Apostle Paul’s assurance the Ephesian Christians that he had preached to them the whole counsel of God.

“. . .for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:2, ESV)

One Bible teacher suggests that what Paul meant was “ I told you all the important things that God has revealed that you must know for your salvation and service to Him.” We are not told everything there is about God or in the mind of God – we are finite and he is infinite. There is no way we could handle everything about God or all of his thoughts!

So what? How can we best apply what that passage teaches us? There are two things that present themselves to this old soldiers ‘brain housing group’, especially as we look around and thoughtfully consider today’s evangelical landscape.

Concerning Scripture itself, while other sources can help us tremendously in our Christian walk in this life, if all we had was the Bible, it would be enough. I don’t know about you, but my Facebook page is literally filled with links to and offers for every kind of Christian source imaginable. We’re talking about churches (local and otherwise), Christian discipleship material, along with concerts and events, not to mention Christian apparel and all sorts of trinkets.

Concerning all of Scripture and the whole counsel of God, It grieves me to see so many memes and images of Bible passages ripped completely out of context that, while they might give us ‘warm fuzzies’, complete miss the fuller meaning that the author intended. Then there is contemporary Christian music (CCM). It tends to mostly be about the positive aspects of Christian life, either focused on blessings, what God purposes to give us as his main reason for being, omitting topics which might not be very popular, like sin, wrath, and judgment. If you doubt that, compare a few classic hymns of the church to CCM. Feel free to challenge me.

Lastly, there’s the content of much of what is presented from pulpits and stages from ‘sea to shining sea’ these days. While there some church leaders who preach and teach in an expository manner from the pages of Scripture, they are in the minority these days. Additionally, much of what we hear these days, whether topical or focused on teaching the text at hand (expository) seems to be man-focused than God centered.

Please note that I am not being intentionally critical, but personal observations. I don’t intend to be argumentative, but like I already mentioned, certain things grieve me, or should I say grieve the spirit living me.

If there are any lessons to be learned from what is written here, they are two-fold.

First, spend more time reading and studying your own Bible than every other source that comes your way promising to teach you the ‘real deal’ concerning Scripture.

Secondly, be selective concerning your preferred sources of preaching and teaching. That also includes Christian music. After all, music both preaches and teaches.

Not only do we want to receive all of what God has to say to us, we want what God offers to us to fill our hearts and minds.

Be Blessed!

Book Review: Studies on Saving Faith – A. W. Pink

The introduction to this book at Monergism.com, states the following:

clip_image002One of the most helpful books we have ever read on the gospel. Pink’s deep understanding of the nature of regeneration and how that relates to faith and works is top notch. Pink levels the serious and solemn charge that much “evangelistic” preaching falls short on delivering the true gospel message. He states, “The ‘evangelism’ of the day is not only superficial to the last degree, but it is radically defective. It is utterly lacking a foundation on which to base an appeal for sinners to come to Christ. There is not only a lamentable lack of proportion (the mercy of God being made far more prominent than His holiness, His love than His wrath), but there is a fatal omission of that which God has given for the purpose of imparting a knowledge of sin. There is not only a reprehensible introducing of ‘bright singing,’ humorous witticisms and entertaining anecdotes, but there is a studied omission of the dark background upon which alone the Gospel can effectually shine forth.” Whether you are a preacher or a layperson, this remarkably relevant study in Scripture will challenge you to hold firmly to the Gospel.

I’ve just finished my first reading and I have to say that I was blessed beyond measure in ways too numerous to mention in this article. The book proper is divided into four parts; Part I – Signs of the Times (Introduction), Part II – Saving Faith, Part III – Coming to Christ, and Part IV – Assurances. Parts I – IV are divided into logical and easily understandable subsections and thoroughly supported from Scripture.

Sometime after completing his most thorough treatment on saving faith, he decided to further amplify one or two of the leading points with the hope that some might be helped thereby, in the form of four dialogues. The simulated, but completely relevant and believable dialogues, between ‘The Writer’ and two gentlemen, ‘Mr. Carnal Confidence’ and ‘Mr. Humble Heart’, actually summarize the entire content of the earlier parts of the book, expressed in language quite familiar to early 20th century readers, yet at the same time easily understood today.

I found the dialogues to be not only an amplification of the book proper, but an excellent summary of its entire contents. I highly encourage you to read not only the book proper, but also the Dialogues. You will be blessed!

_____________

Studies on Saving Faith is available for download without cost at Monergism.com and the Members Only section of the Christian Military Fellowship Website here, and also available for purchase at Amazon.com, as well as from numerous Christ book distributors.

Book Review: Regeneration and Conversion – W. E. Best

I don’t remember exactly how I discovered W. E. Best’s book Regeneration and Conversion. Nevertheless, I recently read it and will probably return to it now and again for various reasons, as well read other books by this wonderful Pastor and author. The list of his books found here has this to say as an introduction to Regeneration and Conversion:

“How does a person become a true Christian? Many people believe they have to earn good standing with God by their upright moral behavior, including their choice to have faith in God. Salvation is entirely the work of a sovereign and gracious God. Regeneration is an immediate act of God that imparts the principle of life without any participation by men. Conversion is the beginning of a holy life, and is the first of many conversion experiences throughout the Christian’s earthly pilgrimage. God doesn’t make bad people into good people; instead, He makes dead people alive, grants faith to believe the gospel, and transforms hearts so that we then want to obey Him.”

Naturally, the book is divided into the two sections in the title, Regeneration and Conversion. Both sections discuss their respective subjects using the most chapter of the Bible, the Gospel of John, as the central biblical focus, using Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus to address in-depth each topic.

The introduction to the topic of Regeneration begins thusly:

“The religious world is staggering under the influence of a depraved intellectualism which denies God His right to operate among the peoples of the world as He pleases. No one can believe in free will and free grace at the same time. These subjects are as diametrically opposed as light and darkness, heaven and hell, or a holy God and an unholy man, To believe in free will dethrones the sovereign God; to believe in free grace dethrones depraved man. Who is on the throne in your concept of salvation?”

The introduction to the topic of Conversion has this to say:

“The subject in John 3:14-18 is conversion, not regeneration. It may seem to the untutored Christian that conversion is synonymous with regeneration, but the student of Scripture soon learns to distinguish the difference. Regeneration is the sole act of God in the heart of the sinner, and is described in the Bible by such terms as these: new birth (John 3:3, 5); God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10); and a new creature (II Cor. 5:17). Conversion, however, is the turning of the regenerate by the influence of God’s grace.”

This book makes a compelling case for the necessity of regeneration preceding faith in the life of all genuine believers. Every believer in Christ either exercises his/her own natural faith and is then “born again” (regenerated), or must be regenerated first, followed by exercising saving faith and receiving the new birth.

I must confess that for a long time I was convinced that my new birth was the result of a natural free will decision after acknowledging that Christ was the sacrifice for my sin. Over time, I have come to believe that the new birth was necessary before I could savingly believe in Christ.

Regardless of what you personally believe, W.E. Best makes a compelling case for his argument and I highly recommend reading Regeneration and Conversion, for spiritual stimulation and exercise!

________________

Wilbern Elias (W. E.) Best was born on June 18, 1919 and went home to be with the Lord on June 15, 2007. Brother Best was married to Ada Juanita Best for 64 years and had a son named Richard. Ada Juanita Best was born on February 4, 1919 and stepped out of time into eternity on December 14, 2002. Brother Best served our Lord in the Gospel ministry for over 60 years and pastored churches in Missouri and in Texas.

Works by W. E. Best can be accessed and downloaded using the following links:

Free Books on Christian Theology and Bible Study | W. E. Best Book Missionary Trust (webbmt.org)

W.E. Best Library (springassemblyofchrist.org)

Prevailing Views of the Atonement of Christ

This is one of those articles this writer has put together in order to have a clear and logical understanding of the two principal views of Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of men. Such an endeavor helps me to maintain a consistent understanding of the topic at hand, not only in my own mind, but it also helps me greatly in communicating what I believe to others. As Christians, being able to articulate why we believe what we believe is spiritually enriching, while at the same time extremely helpful when discussing biblical topics with other believers and unbelievers alike. On to the topic at hand – the two prevailing views of the Atonement!

There is very little doubt among Christians that, In his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ became the atonement, or sacrifice for the sins of mortal men. The Bible tells us that there is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood, in both the Old and New Testaments (Leviticus 16 & Hebrews 9). In the OT, atonement for sin was accomplished by the Jewish High Priests through the periodic sacrificing of ceremonially clean animals. In the New Testament, we are presented with the once for all atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the pure Lamb of God who lived a perfect life on behalf of all who repent of sin and believe the gospel.

Having established that belief in Christ’s sacrifice for the salvation of men, we can ask the crucial question: Did Christ die to merely make the salvation possible for those who repent and believe, or to actually guarantee their salvation? To try and answer that question, let us turn to what has been referred to as The Golden Chain of Salvation recorded in Romans 8:29-30:

29For 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. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

If you are asking “How do those two verses answer our question?”, you are asking the right question! Those two verses didn’t come to be called The Golden Chain of Salvation on a whim or by accident. The actually present to us the logical flow of the process of salvation, or how God saves men. We are told that those who are saved are those God first of all “foreknew”, followed by their “predestination”, calling”, justification”, and glorification.”

The key to answering our question concerning the prevailing views of the Atonement lies in the definition of the phrase “those whom he (God) foreknew”. It goes without saying that those who are “foreknown” by God are ultimately “glorified” in their salvation. It is also significant that everything that God does in these passages is expressed in the past tense – just something for you to ponder. What does it mean that God “foreknew”? There are two distinct possibilities, and possibly only two.

By itself, the term “foreknew” means literally “knew beforehand”. In our context, that seems to indicate that God either knew personally those who would be saved, or he knew something that would do at some point in time.

By far, the prevailing view in modern evangelicalism is that God, who knows the beginning from the end, knows all of the future actions of all men, and decided to save those who he knew would, at some point in time, hear the gospel message and come to believe in Christ as Savior of their own natural free will.

The other, less popular view, is that God knew beforehand those He would save in a personal way, not because they were somehow ‘better’ than others, or because he knew what they would do at some future point in time. We see a beautiful example of this view in God’s choosing of Israel for deliverance from bondage in Egypt:

“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)

God didn’t choose Israel because of how great a nation it was or anything they might accomplish in the future. He had made a covenant with Abraham to eventually become a great nation out of which would come His Messiah that would impact all the nations of the world. In like manner, God, also in eternity past, set his love upon and chose all those he would deliver from the bondage of sin through His Messiah.

The last question we can ask is “What exactly does Romans passage actually say?” The text says “for those whom he (God) foreknew”, a personal pronoun. God knew specific individuals he would bring to salvation. The term “knew” used in the text is the same word God used when he called the Prophet Jeremiah:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

As a final check, I examined over 15 different translations. All but three used the same phrase “I knew you. Two used the phrase “I chose you” and one used the phrase “I selected you”. As a matter of curiosity, I also checked the The Message (MSG) Bible, which claims to be a translation but is, at best, an ‘interesting’ paraphrase. The MSG used the phrase “I knew all about you”, which could support the most popular view of the Atonement, described earlier in this article.

To summarize, there are two main views of the Atonement of Christ. The most popular of the two is that God knew the future decisions of all men and chose for salvation those he knew would choose him of their own free will. The less popular view is that God knew personally, and set his love upon those he would save, and as a matter of sovereign grace, determined to bring them to salvation.

So what?

First of all, both views cannot be correct. Which is most faithful to the text of Scripture? Which do you believe and why? Does one’s view of the Atonement affect how we evangelize – how we share the gospel? Should it?

I won’t share my answers to those questions. After all, my intention in trying to make sense of it all was not to convince anyone of my opinion of the matter. Perhaps another article will address how views of the Atonement impact our evangelistic efforts.

Feel free to comment and let me know if you think I did what I set out to do – properly present the two main views of Christ’s Atonement.

“He Will Save His People from their Sins”

It’s a familiar story. When Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father discovered that Mary, his betrothed, was pregnant and he was not the father, he considered divorcing her quietly. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and spoke these words:

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” ( Matthew 1:20-21)

But I digress. The question that has most frequently occupied my mind of late is “Who exactly are his people? Glaringly obvious, from the very words of the angel who spoke to Joseph, is the term “his”, a possessive pronoun meaning that those whom Jesus will save are his possessions – they belong to him. What else do we know from Scripture about those whom Jesus saves – his people? The rest of this post will highlight , drawing primarily from John’s gospel.

        • All whom Jesus saves were chosen by the Father for salvation.
        • Jesus saves those given to him by the Father.
        • Jesus calls those the Father gives him my sheep.’
        • Jesus will save all those whom the Father has given him – each and every one of his sheep.
        • Jesus continually intercedes before the Father on behalf of his people, those whom the Father has given him, but not for the whole world.

First of all, we are all quite familiar with God’s choosing a special people as his own, for his own glory, beginning with the Old Testament account and the Jewish nation of Israel. The Apostle Paul, called by God to bring the gospel message to the Gentile nations, mentions God’s choosing in at least two of his letters to churches in his time:

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6)

13But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, . 14To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

Second, we know that those Jesus saves were given to him by the Father because of Jesus’ own words:

37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39And 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.”( John 6:37-39)

Third, note that it is also in Jesus own words that we find out that those he saves are his ‘sheep’. Speaking to unbelieving Jews in the Temple at Jerusalem during the Feast of Dedication, Jesus refers to those the Father has given him as his ‘sheep’

27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  29My 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)

Fourth, if we look at portions of the above passages one more time, we can see that all of those given to the Son – his sheep – come savingly to the Son and are granted everlasting life.

37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39And 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.”( John 6:37-39)

27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  29My 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)

Lastly, in High Priestly Prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus interceded specifically for his people, those the Father has given him, but not for the whole world:

1When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. . . .

6 I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.

9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.

11And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

12While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

24Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

In summary, we have stated that the purpose for Jesus birth, death and resurrection was “to save his people from their sins.” We then discussed just a few of the attributes, or characteristics of “his people”. The people whom Jesus saves are:

  • chosen by the Father for salvation,
  • given to Jesus by the Father,
  • those that Jesus calls his sheep, and
  • are those for whom Jesus continually intercedes before the Father.

We also stated, from Scripture, that ALL who are chosen for salvation, given by the Father to the Son as his sheep, and who are the object of Jesus’ intercession before the Father WILL be saved from their sins. and live eternally in His presence.

So What? Here’s some food for thought/questions for consideration:

  1. Is salvation limited to “His people”, as defined in this article, or are there some who are not “His people” who can be saved? Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and explain your answer.
  2. If Jesus will only save “His people”, what would that mean concerning the extent of Christ’s atonement?
  3. What does this article tell you about the sovereignty of God in salvation?

For a biblical summary of HOW God saves someone, read Romans 8:28-31.

May God bless your study of His Word!

Does the Age of the Earth Matter to the Gospel?

Courtesy of the “Is Genesis History?“ Internet site.

This is the first of five posts dealing with the question of ‘The Age of the Earth and the Bible.’ It is taken from the Is Genesis History? Bible Study available in our store.

“I have no gospel unless Genesis is history.”
– D. Martin Lloyd-Jones

When we talk about the ‘age’ of something, we imply it has a specific history. For instance, if a man is 95 years old, he has lived through a series of events quite different from those of a 10-year-old boy.

Age indicates history.

This means when we talk about the age of the earth, we’re really talking about the history of the earth. According to Genesis, it is a history that begins with specific events that lead eventually to Jesus Christ.

In explaining this redemptive history, the prophet Isaiah is very clear: God controls every moment of time in order to glorify Himself by redeeming a people through the work of His Son. He says:

“I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’… I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.” (Isaiah 46:9-11)

God’s providence ensures all of time and history serve His particular ends. Every moment is consequential and important because He is ‘accomplishing all His purpose.’ The Bible is ultimately a book of history: it is through the events of real history that He brings salvation to us and glorifies Himself through it.

This is why one’s view of the age of the earth matters to the gospel.

Six Essential Doctrines Connected to the History of the Earth

If one replaces the Biblical timeline of thousands of years with the conventional timeline of billions of years, one must accept all the new events that go with that new timeline — events which necessarily displace Biblical events. This displacement inevitably affects the doctrines that rely on those events.

For example,

  1. God has accurately revealed the history of the universe and man’s role in it. To allegorize or de-historicize any of those historical events is to question the ability of special revelation to speak clearly about history.
  2. God created the entire universe fully-functional in six normal days. To greatly extend the length of time and significantly alter events transforms the doctrine of creation into a slow, indirect, and death-filled process; this, in turn, transforms one’s view of God and His nature.
  3. God formed Adam and Eve in His image at the beginning, thereby ensuring His image would be reflected somewhere in the universe at every point in its history. If one places long ages before man’s creation, it means God’s image has been missing from creation for almost all of its history.
  4. God cursed the creation as a result of Adam’s sin, bringing death and corruption into a very good world. To say that there were billions of years of corruption and death before Adam’s sin means God created a universe filled with death. This not only changes ones view of the fall, but of the nature of our redemption in time.
  5. God judged the entire world with a global flood, killing all land creatures, birds, and people. The idea of a local flood not only violates the history revealed in special revelation, but it denies the past reality of global judgment in space and time, thereby casting doubt on the universality of the judgment to come.
  6. God providentially controls every moment of time and history, starting with the first creation and the fall, guiding it to redemption in Christ, and ushering everything toward the new creation. If the timeline of the universe is not the timeline of the Bible, then God’s providence is emptied of its meaning and purpose: it takes responsibility for billions of years of emptiness, silence, and death.

It is possible that many Christians do not realize how the age of the earth affects key doctrines related to the gospel. This has not always been the case.  For most of the history of the church there was an understanding that one cannot change the history recorded in the Bible without changing the doctrines taught in the Bible.

Nevertheless, there are some Christians today who say the Bible does not even speak to the age of the earth. This view, however, would surprise the vast majority of interpreters throughout the history of the church.

Again, This was the first of five posts dealing with the question of ‘The Age of the Earth and the Bible.’ It is taken from the Is Genesis History? Bible Study available in our store.

Does the Bible Speak to the Age of the Earth? – Part 2

Where Do Fossils Fit Into the Bible? – Part 3

What Does Evolution Mean for the Bible? – Part 4

The Age of the Earth and Christian Doctrine – Part 5