Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Explanation of God’s Sovereign Will and Grace in Salvation

The following is one of the clearest explanations of the Sovereign free will of God in salvation that I have heard. Taken from John 3:1-10 is explains the process of how God the Spirit enables a person to come to saving faith in Christ. Outstanding teaching from Jon Piper here, enjoy!

Click here to go to John Piper’s website including the notes from the sermon.

For the Video of the sermon click here.

For the Audio of the sermon click here.

(By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How Can we get it so Wrong?

I recently had a fleeting visit to the city of York. This city has a very long history over many centuries which I don’t claim to know much about. However I recently became aware of an incident that happened in 1190. The outline of which can be seen in the photo below.



This anti-Semitism partly stemmed from the utterly incomprehensible idea that all Jews were responsible for Killing Jesus. This has been a recurring theme of anti-Semitic behaviour from people who claim to be Christian through the centuries.

This got me thinking about why and how such atrocities can occur and how people claiming to be Christian get it so horribly wrong when it quite clearly goes against anything that is written in the Bible. Then it occurred to me that up until the Bible was translated into normal everyday language, whatever that may be, ‘Christians’ only knew what was taught them from the pulpit of the Church. (From a brief search this site gives an outline of the History of the Bible translations). Not until the 1500’s was an English translation of the Bible available for the common man. The Roman Church tried to suppress any version that was not in Latin and killed many in the process. It became clear that the Latin Vulgate bible that the Catholic church held to was massively corrupt and I am sure the source of much of the error that seeped into the church over the centuries. Satan won a great victory for a time here by blinding the understanding of the common man by using our innate desire for power and corrupting what started as good, the Church!

Not until everyone could read the Bible for themselves could they discern that what was being taught by the Church was far from ‘the Truth’. This kicked off the Reformation and much conflict between the Catholic and for a time Anglican church who wanted to retain tight control and those that Declared the Truth of scripture boldly challenging the established order. I am not about to discuss the Reformation here, Google it if you wish to look that up.

We are encouraged to search the scriptures daily like the Bereans (Acts 17:10-11), finding out if what is being taught us is right. We should never take on face value any teaching that is given. We are to test the spirits to make sure everything is from God and not from the Devil. The only way to do that is to know what is contained in the Bible. Without scripture we will warp God’s word and come up with all sorts of error in our thinking about our Faith for ‘the Heart is Deceitful above all Things, and desperately sick;’ (Jeremiah 17:9-10). A Christian needs to live in the Spirit but from the Word of God. Without both we either end up as ‘Charismaniacs’ and falling into all sort of gross lunatic heresy or we become legalists bound by duty and adherence to the law.

Either being ignorant of scripture or choosing to put your own slant on something, influenced by culture for instance, leads to such errors that Steve Chalke is currently declaring. He has denied the ‘Substitutionary Atonement’ of Jesus calling it cosmic child abuse. The whole of Christian faith pretty much hangs on this doctrine and it is so clearly taught right from the beginning to the end of scripture. The current Emergent church seems to be falling in to this trap of discarding Biblical Doctrine for the sake or being culturally relevant. Taken to its ultimate end is how the Cults that are based on Christianity came about. Where a Man or Men decided to add to what the Bible says and distort what is clearly taught in the Bible alone. Revelation 22:18 clearly warns that God is really not impressed by anyone who adds to scripture along with Other OT passages that command us not to add to God’s Word.

So in conclusion and in answer to my Question that is the Title of this article. How do we get it so wrong in reference to doing things in the name of God that are so in contradiction with God and His commandments. If we do not understand what is in Gods word, about the human condition, our sinful nature, our ultimate destination if we do not accept Jesus Christ and his Substitutionary death on the Cross, ie: Hell. We will invent our own theories and doctrines and be deceived by the Devil who is the great deceiver and father of lies. His very goal is to get us to put ourselves in the place of God and walk in utter darkness while thinking we are in the light.

Hebrews 4:12 says: ‘For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.’

If you do not know what the Word says then you will be deceived and are in fact in Darkness and heading for a most horrendous place. This life on earth is the closest you will get to Heaven. Happy to live your own life, your way, for you alone. I plead with all my heart that you would come to know and understand that without surrender and submission to Christ there is no hope. But with Christ there is salvation, Hope, joy, life and unconditional Love for eternity. Living knowing this life is the nearest you will ever get to Hell.

So such atrocities that occurred in York and through the Centuries and up to today in the name of the God of the Bible absolutely inexcusable in the light of the Word of God. The conflicts in the world today are not because of ‘Religion’ even when they are in its name. They are caused by such things as greed, selfishness, pride, desire for power, covetousness, ignorance, false religion, hatred and idolatry. True Christianity speaks against such things because the Bible does and therefore God does. We are to stand up for truth and fight against evil and oppression but only out of a heart to see people brought to Christ and for God’s Kingdom to come on Earth for the Glory of God alone.

The Otherness of God

This is a talk I recently gave to our church Worship Team where we are working through the Book Facedown by Matt Redman.

Worship of God must come from a sense of wonder at His otherness or it is not worship. Words like Inexhaustible, immeasurable, unfathomable, eternal, immortal and invisible try to convey something of the otherness of God.

God is like no other but as Tozer remarked ‘Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms’. The Bible reminds us repeatedly of God’s uniqueness.

Q: Are there any areas in your life you can identify where you box God into your view rather than that of scripture?


I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. 42:8

I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god 44:6

To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike? 46:5

I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me 46:9

We must be wary of trying to be so culturally relevant that we fail to see the higher value in the Glory of God. He is in no way like us and we merely touch the shallowest depths of who God is.

It is too easy to present a tame, domesticated God in church and fail to explore the mighty depths of the Lord. We can package God as though he somehow needs us, our worship, our offerings and love. God does not need us at all, in any way. He is perfectly whole, complete in the relationship within the Trinity.

Q: Has it ever occurred to you that God in no way needs you?

If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine. Psalm 50:12

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. Acts 17:24-25

Everything we have comes first from God, even the breath we use to praise Him came from Him.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” Romans 11:35

God owes us nothing and never fall into the lie that He somehow does. No matter what deep and painful struggle we may find ourselves in we must never think we can demand God help us and that he somehow owes us an answer. Or that we can demand He bless us, heal us, fix the circumstances we find ourselves in. He may do so in His sovereign will and loves to lavish good gifts upon us but never, ever think he somehow owes them to us.

Q: Can you think of times where you have demanded God come through for you and been disappointed that He didn’t?

When things go wrong, how we react is a good indicator of how much we understand about the otherness of God. It highlights where we are placing more trust in ourselves or something other than God. That we are more interested in our own comfort than His Glory. This is idolatry! Worship of something other than God.

However this picture of Gods otherness is only really complete when we add in His outrageous Grace. God does not need our worship but the wonderful thing is He loves our worship. God delights in honest, heartfelt worship. He is like a doting father over a cherished child. Just as His otherness is beyond our understanding so is His fatherly love and grace.

This Love and grace is summed up in the sacrifice of Jesus that provides the access to God in the first place. Without which we could never approach the throne room of God. We come through Jesus, in Jesus and with Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Our existence, from creation to salvation to sanctification is quite simply all about Him and for His Glory.


everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. 43:7

the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise. 43:21

I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. 43:25

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. 48:10-11

We are created and he is creator. Every page of the story is one of Grace, Love and mercy towards us. God lavishly gives us good gifts but we must never think for a second any of it is about us. God is passionate and jealous for His own Glory.

It seems hard to accept that God must care about his own Glory. When man glorifies himself it is pure arrogance and pride. When God glorifies himself it is from a place of pure holiness. God must prize Himself above all others since there is no one else above Him, He is God.

Passionate and intimate worship of God is not so uncommon in today's church. However we need to find ways of helping the church respond to the otherness of God which is equally as important. This surely has to start in our own lives and become part of who we are. A people who reserve something for God alone. Words, thoughts or actions.

Q: Is there anything you do or could do that is reserved for God alone?

Q: How in leading worship can we get across something of the Otherness we have been discussing?

The Jews revered the name of God so highly they would not even write or say his name. We need to recapture this sense of otherness but we need glimpses of this otherness before we can sing wholeheartedly about it.

Tozer writes: ‘What the Church needs today is a restoration of the vision of the Most High God’. This is a relevant today as it was 50 years ago when it was written.