Category Archives: Theology

Blessed for His glory

Ephesians 1:8-10 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

God loves to bless His people.  We don’t have to do anything to earn His blessings, they’re a free gift – and that includes the gift of His Son.  Now lest you get the wrong impression that this is a prosperity gospel message, let’s point out that God loves to bless us for the purpose of His glory, not merely for our enjoyment.

He lavished His riches on us in His Son in wisdom – with insight.  He chose to reveal Himself to us in the form of Christ Jesus, making known the mystery of His will.  He planned this from eternity – it’s always been the plan. This revelation brings Him glory and fulfills His will.

It’s in Jesus that all things are united.  He’s the key.  He’s the deal.  In Him all things in heaven and on earth come together.  God’s plan in showering His blessings on us is to bring glory to Himself and to make Christ known to all. He gives us what we have that He might use us to shine His light.

The Word of Life

1 John 1:1-4  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

The natural response to the joy we receive in Christ is to share it.  How could we, knowing that we have experienced new life in the Son of God, keep that to ourselves?  We should be overflowing with joy, ready to burst if we don’t share it.

John was among the apostles who walked with Jesus while He was here on this earth.  He writes in his first letter to the churches in Asia Minor that he wants them to share in the fellowship he and others have with God through Christ.  He proclaims all he witnessed with his own eyes, all he heard with his own ears, so that the joy of others might be made full.  He’s not willing to keep it all to himself.  What he was sharing was life.

Jesus is the Word of life and He made Himself known to mankind.  John was there when Jesus was present in the flesh, God incarnate sharing life with other people.  John knew that real life is in Jesus and in this he found his joy.  He also knew that his joy would be made all the more complete if he told others about the Word.  Notice his motive explained in verse 4, that “our” joy may be made complete.

Jesus is life.  If you’ve experience new life in Him, share it with everyone around you, so that they will have joy AND so that your joy would be made more complete.  If you haven’t experienced the life-giver, why not seek Him out?  Find out what this life is that others are talking about.  Ask God to reveal Jesus to you and make Him real to you.  He will.

Jesus in the Scriptures

Luke 24:27  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Can you see Jesus?  There He is, in the Garden of Eden, as the serpent is cursed by God and promised that One would come who would crush him (Genesis 3:15).  He’s there as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stand among the flames without being burnt up (Daniel 3:24-25). He’s the one foretold by the prophets (2 Samuel 7:12–16; Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; 50:6; 52:13–53:12; 61:1; Jeremiah 23:5, 6; Daniel 7:13, 14; 9:24–27; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 6:12; 9:9;12:10; 13:7 and so on) and ushered in by The Baptist (John 1:29). And yes, we find that even in the very beginning, He was there (John 1:1). But so much more than these examples, He’s the central character of every story in every book of God’s Word.

As the disciples who walked to Emmaus spoke to Jesus, He pointed out to them how all of the Scriptures they knew concerned Him, they all had a purpose of shedding light on the man who was also God.  God revealed Himself to mankind through Jesus and He revealed Jesus through the Scripture.  When the eyes of the disciples were opened, they saw it.  When our eyes are opened to who Jesus is, we see it too.  It’s all about Him, every story, every prophesy, even the Law is given to show that we needed Jesus to come (Galatians 3:24-25).  It’s genius, if you think about it.  Who else, ever, in the entire history of the world, has written such an extensive story with so much action, so much rich dialogue, such beautiful poetry, such love, such applicable moral teaching, that reveals in the end to be about a great Hero that was the basis for the rest of the story up to that point?  It’s brilliant!  And it’s God-inspired.

What the disciples got that day is that Jesus is the central character.  He’s the one that matters in the big scheme of things.  We can learn a lot from Moses, David, Solomon and other heroes, but their main purpose was to point to Christ. Their good deeds and their flaws alike were to show us Jesus.  The prophesies, the plagues, the desert wandering, the flooding, all to point us to Jesus.  Not every view of theology agrees with this notion, but what matters is that Jesus did.  He’s the one who said Moses wrote about Him (John 5:46) and made claim to be the One that the prophets spoke of (Luke 4:21).  If Jesus believed it, it’s best to follow His lead.

Warning Concerning Antichrists

The First Letter of John

1 John 2: 18-27 18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.t21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.25 And this is the promise that he made to ust—eternal life. 26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

 It will never be my intention to scare you, but there are certain warnings in God’s Word that need to be looked at.  John thought it was important enough to point out the existence of antichrists that he spent a good portion of his first letter warning about them.

There are those who oppose the gospel of Jesus Christ and seek to lead His followers astray.  Though we’d like them to be easily identifiable through something like their black cowboy hat, it isn’t that simple.  Though we’d like to be able to tell who they are based on the fact that they’re “out there” saying hateful things about Jesus, it’s not true.  They are among us, posing as our brothers and sisters.  They say things much like what we say.  They call themselves Christians but their intentions are not to follow Christ.  Their intentions are rather to keep others from following Him.

So how can we spot someone who is an antichrist if they look just like a Christian in some cases?  There is one test given by John to his readers.  They deny that Jesus is the Christ.  The simple fact is that they are called antichrists because they are against Christ.  If someone is opposed to believing that Jesus is the Son of God, sent into the world to redeem God’s people, then he is an antichrist.  Don’t get this mixed up with The Antichrist who will come as the embodiment of all that is evil.  These are individuals who reject the gospel yet try to look like they belong with Christians as they work to  destroy.  It was true in John’s time and it’s true in ours.  Be prepared for lies by knowing what the Truth is.

Death

Ordo Salutis

Philippians 1:21  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

What comes next?  Sanctification is the process by which God prepares us to be in His presence, but there is a moment in time at which that process is completed – death.  This seems a morbid topic to speak of, but death is part of the sanctification process for a Christian, not punishment.  Though we die because of sin, death is a positive thing for the believer.

Our experience of death completes our union with Christ.  He died and to be like Him we must also die.  He conquered death and therefore when we experience death we become closer to Him and begin the final aspect of salvation – glorification.  We leave this body and join the Lord in our real home (2 Corinthians 5:8), where there will be no more sorrow and no more tears (Revelation 21:4).  We’ll become who we were really meant to be, in the bodies we were really meant to have.  And we’ll never know death again.

Perseverence

Ordo Salutis

Philippians 1:6  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.

Isn’t it great to know that you are not left on your own after you become a believer in Christ?  God does a work in you to bring you to Himself, but He doesn’t just abandon you after that, expecting you to endure all on your own until the day of glory.  No, He continues to work in you until that day.

Once you belong to God’s family, you are promised an inheritance and the Holy Spirit is given to you as a guarantee of that inheritance.  Upon the completion of this life, you will inherit eternal life and everything that comes with it.  This can only be achieved if you remain a child of God and maintain your salvation.  But isn’t it wonderful to know that you don’t have to do that on your own?

It was God that began the work in you to enable you to believe and it is He who will continue to work in you until the end of this life on earth.  He will never leave you nor forsake you and no one can snatch you out of your Father’s hand.  Nothing can separate you from His love.  Nothing.  He will finish what He started.  Your future doesn’t solely rest on you.

Sanctification

Ordo Salutis

Hebrews 2:10-11  For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers

He who calls you and causes you to be born again, who justifies you and forgives you, who adopts you as His own, will not stop at merely getting you.  He’ll keep working in you to make you more like Christ until the day of glory.  The process of spiritual maturing is sanctification, becoming holy.

To sanctify really means “to set apart”, so when you consider what God does for you in His act of salvation you can see that He sets you apart for something.  Justification, the declaration of the sinner as righteous, is not done as an end unto itself.  This verdict of “not guilty” is for the purpose of empowering us to do God’s work.  We are saved for His purposes, for His own good pleasure.

While were were still sinners, He made us alive in Christ to do good works (Ephesians 2:5) and He will continue working in us to bring us into maturity.  This means we grow in character, in faith, in works, and in love.  God does this in us both by the work of the Holy Spirit within and by our own actions and choices that lead us to holiness.  It’s only through Christ’s shed blood that we are capable of this growth, however.  None of this is ours to claim credit.

Adoption

Ordo Salutis

Romans 8:14-15  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

The work of the Holy Spirit in us does not end at conversion, nor does our relationship with God end at being justified in Christ through His sacrifice for our sins.  We gain treasures far beyond what we can even imagine, and none of it is earned or deserved.  One of the greatest gifts of all is adoption into God’s family.

Whereas once we were enemies of God because of our sin, in Christ we not only receive reconciliation with the Father, but adoption as one of His own.  It’s often said that everyone is a child of God, but biblically speaking only those who are in Christ are truly children of God because we have entered into the family through adoption.  We get to become coheirs with Jesus and one day we will share in His glory (Romans 8:17).

God’s use of family terms in His Word to picture His work of redemption is beautiful and meaningful.  We may not always grasp the most theological of word pictures, but we can understand what it means to be children with a daddy who loves us.  Not just intellectually, but emotionally, as we grow in love for our Father in Christ and fellowship with Him (1 Corinthians 1:9).

Conversion

Ordo Salutis

Romans 10:10  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Conversion is both an event and a process.  It occurs, but it continues occurring throughout the life of a Christian.  It had divine action as well as human response.  Conversion is a sign of, but not the condition of, our justification.  We have to be given grace in order to repent and be converted.  We can’t obtain our own salvation just through choosing to believe.  The power to believe is given through the grace of God and regeneration takes place before we can have faith.

Of all the aspects to the salvation process, this is the first that requires any action of the person; all work up to this point has been done (mostly in secret) by the Holy Spirit in the heart of the regenerate person.  Now comes the time to respond to the call.  Just to be clear, we must respond but we are not responsible for our own salvation or conversion.  Only after we have had a work done in us by God can we even conceive of making the move to respond.

This is the part you may know as “accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior”.  The important part here is the acceptance of Him as Lord.  An acknowledgement of the need for a Savior is not the same as turning your life over to Christ.  Responding to the call of God with repentance and surrender is the beginning of the life-long process of sanctification.

Regeneration

Ordo Salutis

Ezekiel 36:26  And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Have you been born again?  What happened the first time you were born?  Did you have anything to do with it?  When your mother and father conceived you, were you in control of the decision to be born?  What about in your spiritual rebirth?  Did you have any control of the decision to be reborn?

It’s worth viewing the words chosen by the Holy Spirit as He inspired the writers of the Bible as intentional and meaningful.  Even the more metaphorical phrases have deep meaning.  It’s no coincidence that the Bible speaks of someone who is saved as being “born again”.  Just as we couldn’t choose to be born, we can’t choose to be reborn.  God made us alive spiritually by giving us a new life (Ephesians 2:5).  He gives us a new heart.  He gives us the right to be adopted as His children by being born again (John 1:12-13).  It’s a gift, and we had nothing to do with it.  We didn’t earn it and we sure didn’t deserve it.

Regeneration is a secret act of God in which He gives us new spiritual life.  Whereas once the Gospel was foolishness to us (1 Corinthians 1:18), through His work in us it begins to make sense and we are drawn to it (Romans 1:16).  This is because we have been given a new understanding and a new heart that longs for God.  Regeneration brings us from spiritual death to life.  Now we have the ability to possess the saving faith required to respond to the Gospel by accepting Christ.  This is all a gift of God as He pours out His grace on us.