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Archive for November, 2008

Make Room for Christ

mpj0386069000012 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. – Luke 2:7

It’s the same every year, but his year it’s even more pronounced. The signs go up. The music is played. The décor is changed. The commercials begin. And it’s happening earlier and earlier and earlier every year. This year it began in late September and early October; the earliest yet. And you know what I’m talking about. The mad dash to Christmas. The best way I know to describe it is by using the words of commercial that running on the radio. It’s become psychotic. That simply means the next 23 days will drive us all to delusions, hallucinations, incoherence and distorted perceptions of reality. We’ll brag about all we have to do or get done. We compare schedules to see who has more parties to go to as if it’s some badge of honor. We shop and eat, shop and eat, shop and eat. We’ll moan and complain, moan and complain, moan and complain. And we’ll all be determined in the end to never celebrate Christmas this way again, yet we’ll start all over next October and do it again just like last year.

The bottom line is, we can’t wait for this time of year due to the lights, music, cooler temperatures, romance and gifts. But we never really enjoy, at least like we hope to. And I think we don’t enjoy it because as hard as we try, we don’t make room for Christ. Oh we yell at Walmart for exchanging Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays. We demand our nativity scenes to be included on town squares alongside the menorahs. We say things like “Remember the reason for the season.” But truth be told, we don’t make room for him any more than non-Christians do.

The most common explanation for there not being any room in the Inn for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is overcrowding. Just too many people to accommodate in such a small town. We’ve always been given a picture of a nice empathetic innkeeper telling the couple that if he had room he’d give it to them. The Nativity Story that came out a couple of years ago, and that many of you have seen, paints a different picture. I think it’s a more accurate picture because I think there was more to their being relegated to a stable or shepherd’s cave than just overcrowding of the small town. Too many people just doesn’t answer the question for me. You see, I think there are three other reasons why there wasn’t room and these three reasons, if you will allow them to, may convict you like they’ve convicted me as I’ve contemplated them lately (and let me say that I’ve been wresting with the content that follows for some time and it was last year as I was reading the story again prior to our Christmas Eve service that the Scripture leapt off the page and really crystallized it for me).

I. DISINTEREST (indifference, lack of concern, apathy)

First of all, there was no room due to disinterest. To the innkeeper and others it was just another baby, couple, no one special. There was no concern shown. They were indifferent to the baby and his family. Had they known who He was, they would have made room.

To the world today the same is true. Despite the fact that His birthday is a national holiday, Jesus is just another baby, no one special, so they don’t make room. There is no special concern, just indifference. He’s no different than a president or Martin Luther King. But if they knew they would make room.

Do you make room for Christ on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? Have you made room for Him this holiday season? If you don’t or if you haven’t, it could be because to this point you haven’t known Him. You may have been indifferent to Him. You may have lacked concern for Him because He has been nothing more than a historical figure to you. You haven’t acknowledge that He is the Savior who is Christ the Lord that was born for you.

Do you hear the subtle description that I’m using? I hope you’ll notice that I’m asking you if you make room for the Savior who is Christ the Lord not if you are making Him Lord. Here’s the difference. Making Him Lord is an impossibility on a human level for two reasons. First, and most simply, He already is Lord, we don’t make Him Lord. Jesus being the Lord, is not dependent on whether you or I believe it. There will come a time when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. Some will be doing it willingly in an act of submission, others will do it under compulsion while still in a state of rebellion. Second, the Bible speaks of our conversion as rebirth and not intellectual understanding or in terms of degree of commitment because the initiative lies solely with the Father and not us.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, (13) who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. – John 1:12-13

What does he mean? Well very clearly John is saying that our salvation has nothing to do with physical family history or family ties, that’s the blood part. It has nothing to do with being emotionally stable or not, that’s the will of the flesh. And it has nothing to do with determination or the power of positive thinking, that’s the will of man part. It has everything to do with God. At the same time, Paul writes in Ephesians 1 that we have a responsibility to believe. The difference is this, and I’ll use the inn as a picture if I can. If our hearts of stone have not been replace with hearts of flesh (that’s language from Ezekiel), or to put it another way, if we have not been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and have not been spiritually reborn (that’s language from Jesus, John, Paul and others), the door of our hearts would remain closed because the door is sealed shut and everyone inside is dead. It’s only through the supernatural work of the Spirit that the seal is broken and the door can be opened and that we are alive to answer the door when the Savior knocks.

There’s another group in this room, more than likely, who have acknowledged that He is the Savior but you still lack concern for Him, you are still disinterested in Him. And the lack of concern and interest comes from the fact that you haven’t made room for Him “as He is” or “as He exists”. It’s not that you haven’t professed or confessed that He is your Lord, you’ve just placed your faith, hope and trust in a God or in a Savior as you’ve created Him to be rather than in a God or a Savior as the Bible reveals Him.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, (19) because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. (20) For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (21) For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (22) Professing to be wise, they became fools, (23) and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. – Romans 1:18-23

We have always had a problem with making God in our image and believing in Him as we create Him to be rater than believing in Him as He is. We have trouble with some of His attributes and say we could never believe in a God that doesn’t fit into our manmade constructs. And rather than submit to Him as the Bible reveals Him to be we create a more palatable, comfortable God. There are two problems with that. #1 He when we do that He ceases to be God and #2 we fail to please Him.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. – Hebrews 11:6

So with that clarification, let me ask the question again. Have you made room for Jesus?

II. DISRUPTION (interruption, interference, distraction)

Well, the second reason there was no room in the inn is because providing room would have caused a disruption. The innkeeper and others were busier than they ever had been. Providing room for the couple would have been an interruption, it would have caused interference in the schedule or daily routine. It would have been a distraction that got in the way of other things that needed to be done. There just wasn’t going to be enough time to take care of all the guests and this couple and their new baby as well.

To the world today the same is true. They don’t make room for Jesus because faith or spiritual things are interruptions, they interfere with plans, schedules and routines. Religion is just a distraction. There are too many other things to get done.

Do you make room for Christ on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? Have you made room for Him this holiday season? Does your personal time with Him come first and all other activities follow or is your personal time with Him squeezed in when you have a spare minute or two, which seldom occurs? Do you have so many things going on that you have to mess with the Lord’s Day to get everything done? Do you have so many commitments and activities that you forsake the gathering together of the church? Is all your time spent on yourself and your family and little to no time for ministry to others?

III. DEMANDS (requirements)

Finally, and closely related to the second reason, there was no room in the inn because of the demands the couple would have made on the innkeeper and others around them. They would have needed and more than likely asked for help. There would have been an extra level of care needed. They were going to be demanding. They were going to have expectations that others weren’t going to have. And meeting those demands would have taken an extra measure of selflessness. It was going to take extra time, food, money, and other things that they weren’t willing to give up. Providing room for Mary, Joseph and the baby wouldn’t have been the most time and cost-effective thing to do.

To the world, the same is true. They don’t want to make room for Jesus because He demands a change of lifestyle. Certain ways of living have to be set aside. Selfishness isn’t acceptable. Looking out for number one is contrary to an “I’m third” (God, others and me) lifestyle. Those of the world want what they want when they want it how they want it where they want it. They don’t want to follow anyone else’s rules and they don’t want anyone else’s belief imposed upon them. They want to keep their time and resources for themselves.

Do you make room for Christ on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? Have you made room for Him this holiday season? Do you love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? Do you love other believers? Do you love your neighbor? Do you you’re your enemies? Do you listen to Him? Do you abide in Him? Do you strive to enter through the narrow door? Do you take up your cross and follow Him? Do you lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven rather than earth? Do you let your light shine before men? Do you make disciples? Do you strive to meet His demands even though doing so means you will live a radically different lifestyle than those in the world? Those are just a few of the demands he makes. They are questions to ask yourself.

CONCLUSION

Well, this is probably the shortest I’ve ever preached and ever will preach. But, I believe, if you truly contemplate what I’ve said, it could be one of the most life-altering questions you’ve ever asked yourself. Do you make room for Christ? Or do you have to admit, there is no room for him.

If you have not acknowledged and repented of your sin that alienates you from God and is deserving of wrath and death, if you’ve never acknowledged your need for and cried out to the Savior who is Christ the Lord who paid the debt for sinners like you through His death and resurrection, if you have never professed or confessed Jesus as Savior and Lord of your life, I beg you to come to Him today. In faith, throw yourself at His feet, cry out to Him to save you and receive the forgiveness that only He can offer you. Make room for Christ in your heart today.

Beloved, I exhort you today to make room for Christ as well. Make room in your heart. Make room in your schedule. Make room in your lifestyle. Make room in your daytimer. Make room in your checkbook. Make room in your decisions. Make room in your priorities. Make room in your future plans. Make room in everything for Christ. Today, tonight and tomorrow, make room for Christ. Wednesday, make room for Christ. In January, February, ’09. . . He is the God-Man. He is Jesus the Savior. He is Immanuel, God with us. He has brought God out into the open so that He might be known in part by everyone and known intimately by you who have received Him and have been given the right to be His children.

Because the bottom line is, we all have great ends in mind as far as who we want to be as Christians, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, friends, etc. We all want to be holy, righteous, blameless, forgiving, patient and kind, selfless, evangelistic, great spouses and parents. But unfortunately I think we’re all a little more committed to the ends than we are committed to the means to the ends. And if we don’t commit ourselves to the means, we’ll never accomplish the ends. As a friend of mine once put it, “many of us are looking too far towards the horizon while ignoring the day-to-day graces that will carry [us] to the future [we] desire.” It has to begin by making room for Christ.

Make room for Christ.

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CSL047The following are the Scripture passages I promised. Happy studying!

Total or Radical Depravity

In the Old Testament. . .Genesis 3:1-19; 5:3; 6:5; 8:21; Exodus 7:13-14; 32:1-3; Leviticus 11:44-47; Numbers 13:31-33; 21:4-5; Deuteronomy 29:4; Judges 2:10-13; 21:25; I Samuel 2:12; 3:7; Job 4:17; 9:2; 14:4; 15:14-16; 25:4-6; Psalms 2:1-3; 5:9; 7:14; 14:1b-3; 51:4-5; 130:3; Proverbs 12:12; 15:28: 16:2; 20:9; Ecclesiastes 7:20, 29; 8:11; 9:3b; Isaiah 1:5-6; 6:5; 42:18-20; 53:1-3; 59:2-3; 59:7, 10; 64:6-7; Jeremiah 3:1; 4:22; 5:21; 9:5; 13:23; 17:9; Lamentations 1:8-9; Ezekiel 3:7; 6:3-4; 16:15-17; Hosea 1:2, 3-9; Micah 7:1-4

In the New Testament. . .Matthew 5:3, 21-28; 7:21-23; 9:12; 12:34-35; 15:10-20; 19:23-26: 23:25-28; Mark 7:14-23: 10:23-27; Luke 6:20, 43-46; 8:11-14; 9:57-62; 11:39-40; 14:16-20; 18:24-25; John 3:3, 5; 5:25; 6:44, 63-65; 8:34, 43-47; 15:18, 23-25; Acts 2:22-23b; 3:14-15; 7:51; 28:25-28
Romans 1:18-19, 20-32; 3:10-18; I Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:14; II Corinthians 3:14; 4:3-4; Galatians 1:3-4; 5:19-21; Ephesians 2:1-3; 4:17b-19; 5:5-6; 2 Thessalonians 1:7b-8; 2:10b-12b; 3:1-2; I Timothy 1:8-10; 6:3-5; II Timothy 2:26; 3:1-5; Titus 3:3; Hebrews 2:1; 3:7-13; 5:11-12; 6:4-6; 10:26-29; 12:25-29; James 1:13-15, 19-24, 26; 2:14; 3:14-16; 4:4, 13-17; 5:1-6; I Peter 2:9b-10, 25; 4:3-4; II Peter 2:1-3, 10, 12; I John 1:6, 8-10; 2:4, 9-11, 15-17; 3:8a-10, 17-18; 4:8, 20; 5:19b; Revelation 1:10-11; 2:23-25; 3:19-20, 36

Unconditional Election

In the Old Testament. . .Genesis 12:1-3; 17:19-21; 18:19; 25:23; Exodus 33:19b; Deuteronomy 4:37a; 7:6-8a; 10:14-15; Nehemiah 9:7a; Psalms 4:3; 33:12; 105:6; 106:4b-5; Isaiah 41:8-9; 43:10; 44:1-2; Jeremiah 1:5; 18:1-6; 31:3b; Hosea 3:1; Amos 3:2a; Nahum 1:7; Haggai 2:23; Malachi 1:2-3a

In the New Testament. . .Matthew 22:14; 24:22, 31; Mark 13:20, 27; John 1:12-13; 6:37-39; 10:1-5; 13:18a; 15:19; 17:9; Acts 9:15; 13:48; Romans 8:29; 9:11-24; 11:2, 5-7, 29; I Corinthians 1:26-29
Galatians 1:15-16a; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11; Colossians 3:12; I Thessalonians 1:4; II Thessalonians 2:13; II Timothy 1:9, 2:10; Titus 1:1; Hebrews 2:13; James 2:5; I Peter 1:1-2a; 2:9a; II Peter 1:10a; II John 1a, 13; Revelation 13:8; 17:8, 14

Particular or Definite Atonement

In the Old Testament. . .Genesis 3:15, 21; 4:4; Exodus 12:3-7, 13; Leviticus 16:5-22; 17:11; Numbers 21:6-9; Isaiah 42:1, 6b-7; 49:5-8a; 53:4-8, 10-11; Jeremiah 31:31-34b

In the New Testament. . .Matthew 20:28; 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20 ; John 10:14-15; 10:27-30; 11:49-52; 12:32; 17:1b-2, 9, 19; Acts 20:28; Romans 3:21-25; 4:23-25; 5:6-21; 8:28-39; I Corinthians 1:18, 23-24, 30-31; 2:6-8; 15:3-4; II Corinthians 5:14-15, 19, 21; 8:9; Galatians 1:3-4; 3:13; Ephesians 1:4, 7-12; 2:13-18; 3:8-12; 5:2; Colossians 2:13c-14; I Thessalonians 5:9-10; II Thessalonians 2:16-17; I Timothy 2:1-6; 4:10; II Timothy 1:9-10; Titus 1:2; 2:11, 13b-14; Hebrews 2:9-17; 5:9; 7:27; 9:28; 13:12; I Peter 1:18-20; 2:4, 24; 3:18; II Peter 1:1b; I John 2:1-2; 3:5, 8b; 4:10; Revelation 1:4b-6; 5:9; 13:8; 14:4b

Irresistible Grace

In the Old Testament. . .Genesis 3:8b-9; 11-13a; Exodus 12:42a, 51; Deuteronomy 30:6; I Samuel 3:4-6, 8; Nehemiah 9:7b; Psalm 65:4 ; Isaiah 51:2a; 55:10-11; 66:7-9; Jeremiah 31:3b; 31:31-34; Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:25-27; 37:2-12; Hosea 2:23; Jonah 3:5; Zechariah 12:10

In the New Testament. . .Matthew 11:25-27; 13:11-16; 16:16-18a; 19:25-26; Mark 4:11; 10:26-27; Luke 8:10a; 10:21-23; 15: 4-7; 8-10; 18:26-27; 19:5-10; John 1:12-13; 3:3-8; 5:25; 6:63a; 6:37, 44a, 45, 65; 8:32-36; 10:1-5, 8, 27; Acts 2:47b; 3:16; 5:31; 11:18; 13:48; 14:27; 16:14; 18:9-10; Romans 1:5b-6; 8:28-30; 9:11, 23-24; I Corinthians 1:2, 9, 24, 26-28, 30-31; 2:15-16; 12:3; II Corinthians 4:6; 5:17-18a; Galatians 1:15-16; Ephesians 2:4-6, 8-9; 4:1; Philippians 1:29; Colossians 2:11-13a; I Thessalonians 1:4-5; II Thessalonians 1:11; 2:13-14; I Timothy 1:12-14; II Timothy 1:8-9; 2:24-26; Titus 1:1, 3; 3:4-6; Hebrews 3:1; 12:1b-2a; James 1:18; I Peter 1:1b-2a, 3, 15, 23; 2:9, 21; 3:9; 5:10; II Peter 1:1, 3, 10; 3:9; I John 2:29; 3:9-10; 4:-8; 5:1, 4-5, 18; Jude 1; Revelation 1:7; 17:14

Perseverance of the Saints

In the Old Testament. . .Genesis 5:24; 713-18; Exodus 14:13-30; Job 1:8-12; Psalm 1:6; 16:10-11; 37:23-28; 121:7-8; 125:1-2; 103:8-12; 103:17; 112:1, 9; Jeremiah 32:40; Lamentations 3:22-23

In the New Testament. . .Matthew 10:22; 24:22, 24, 31; Mark 13:20, 22; Luke 8:15; 9:62; 21:17; 22:31-32; John 3:15-16; 4:14a; 6:38-44, 51, 58; 10:27-30; 11:25-26a; 17:24; Romans 8:29-30, 35-39; I Corinthians 3:13-15; II Corinthians 4:8-10, 14; 4:17-5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:4-7; Philippians 1:6; 3:20-21; I Thessalonians 1:9-10; 2:12, 19-20; 4:14-17; 5:23-24; II Thessalonians 2:16-17; I Timothy 1:16; II Timothy 1:12; 2:10, 19; 4:8; Titus 3:5-7; Hebrews 3:6, 14; 6:19-20; 7:25; 12:6-7; 13:20; James 1:12; I Peter 1:3b-5, 8-9; 5:10; II Peter 1:10-11; I John 5:11, 13, 20b; Jude 1, 24-25; Revelation 2:7b, 11b, 17b; 2:26-28; 3:5, 12; 7:2-4; 13:10; 14:12

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Question #3: Isn’t this unfair?

Answer: No.

Actually I should say, if you dare to ask the answer is no. Paul makes it clear that we don’t even have the right to ask this question.

18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use? – Romans 9:18-21 (NASB)

But if you must ask the question I have to answer this way. To accuse God of being unfair in choosing one person and not another to be his child is rooted in the fact that we think everyone deserves to be saved. We no longer believe that God could send all of us to hell without giving us time to think about it, and that this would be perfectly just.

Most people are under the mistaken notion that God capriciously races through the phone book putting checks by the names of all the people who want to go to heaven but who he is going to send to hell. When the truth of the matter is, election doesn’t exclude anyone from the kingdom of God who wants in. Election means God chose people based on his grace and mercy to enter the kingdom and if he had not chosen them they would be headed to hell just as they deserved.

What should amaze us, if we are Christians, is not that God doesn’t choose everybody but that God chose us. We should be asking why me? Not why not them? It has nothing to do with fairness. Fairness would mean we would all spend eternity in hell. It really has everything to do with his mercy. The question isn’t, “Why not everyone?” The question is, “Why me?”

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mpj038780400001Question #2: Doesn’t God choose a person because he knew all along that that person would choose him (Foreknowledge)?

Answer: No

“Foreknowledge” means more than knowing things ahead of time. “Foreknowledge” means “to choose or love beforehand”. It means “foreloved”. When the word and how it’s used throughout Scripture is studied it becomes evident that it refers to God placing favor on a person or event before the person reaches a particular place in his life or before the event actually takes place. In other words, God did not choose us because he saw down through the corridors of time that we would eventually choose Him. He chose us because he chose to show favor to us, he chose to love us before the foundation of the world.

If God chose you or me based on the fact that he knew we would respond favorably to him, our salvation would not be based on unmerited favor or grace. It would be based on something we’ve done, on our choice. But Scripture teaches us that God loves those he has chosen to love because he wants to not because we are loveable or do something to make us loveable. Romans 9:11-18 gives us an example of the unconditional nature of God’s love.

11 for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls,12 it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.”13 Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.”14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.”16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.”18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. – Romans 9:11-18 (NASB)

The other argument against the foreknowledge view comes from John 6:44 which again says,

44 “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; – John 6:44 (NASB)

If no one can become a Christian unless God draws them what would God see in the future apart from his own work? If he saw you or me responding it would be based on his drawing us. Had he not drawn us all he would have seen in the future was someone who was a non-responsive, life-less, lost person who, according to I Corinthians 2:14,

14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. – 1 Corinthians 2:14 (NASB)

In other words, election cannot be based on foreseen responses which we, apart from regeneration by the Spirit, are entirely incapable of making.

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mpj040285800001I thought I would take the next few days to answer questions regarding the unconditional election of God. I hope these help you as you continue to study.

Question #1: “If God elects some to heaven doesn’t that mean he elects others to hell?
Answer: No.

This question involves what some call “double predestination” and there are two predominant views concerning this issue. Some people believe God intervenes in the lives of the elect to create faith in their hearts and at the same time intervenes in the lives of the non-elect creating unbelief in their hearts. And the foundation for this view is drawn from biblical statements about God hardening people’s hearts. Others, of which I am one, believe that while God does in fact harden hearts, he does so passively and not actively. Let me explain. Turn to Exodus 7:2.

2 “You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land.3 “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.4 “When Pharaoh will not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt, and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments.5 “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.” – Exodus 7:2-5 (NASB)

In this passage and others like it, God is said to harden hearts. In this particular case he did so for His own glory, and as a sign to both Egypt and Israel. But the common questions that are raised at this point are, “How can God harden Pharoah’s heart and still judge Pharoah for his sin? and “How could God hold anyone accountable for sin that flows out of a heart that God Himself hardens?”

The answer is, God does not actively harden people’s hearts. If He did, His nature would be compromised because He would be the author of evil, which he’s not. God does not actively harden, he passively hardens the heart of people. And this is how He does it.

Last week we said that man is unable to please or seek after God because there is nothing in them that is righteous or good. They are, excuse me, we are, by nature, sinful. So when God passively hardens hearts He is merely passing judgment on sin that is already present. He does not have to create it. All He has to do to harden a heart is give a person over to his or her sin. In other words, God withdraws His common grace.

You see, everyone, sinner and saint are beneficiaries of God’s common grace (The rain falls on the just and the unjust.). We’ve talked before about the fact that God shows grace and mercy to everyone in that the world is not as bad as it could be. He in fact, keeps things in check. Believe it or not, things could be much worse. But God graciously controls or bridles the amount of evil in the world. If evil were left unchecked life on this planet would be impossible.

When God hardens a heart, He simply removes the restraints. Rather than restricting the evil in their heart He gives them enough rope to hang themselves. God does not create the evil. He simply removes His hand and lets them do their own will. As Paul points out in Romans chapter 1.

So the truth is, God actively intervenes in the hearts of the elect to ensure their salvation and at the same time leaves the rest of mankind to themselves. He doesn’t create unbelief in their hearts because it is already there. He does not coerce them to sin, they sin by their own choice.

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The Morning After

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Daniel said, ‘Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. (21) It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. (22) It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.’ – Daniel 2:20-22

With verse 21 in mind, here is a true/false test I read over at Founders.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, Jesus will still be King.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, our responsibilities as Christians will not have changed one iota.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the greatest agent for social change in America will still be winning the hearts and minds of men and women through the gospel, not legislation.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my primary citizenship will still be in this order – (1) the Kingdom of God, (2) America, not vice-versa.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the tomb will still be empty.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the cross, not the government, will still be our salvation.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, our children will still be more concerned with whether or not we spend time with them than with who is President.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my neighbor will still be my neighbor, and loving him/her will still be the second greatest commandment. (Do you know the first?)

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the only way to see abortion ultimately overturned will still be winning men and women to a high view of life through the gospel of Christ.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the only way to see gay marriage ultimately defeated will still be winning men and women to a biblical view of marriage through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my retirement will still not match my treasure in Heaven.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, “Jesus Is Lord” will still be the greatest truth in the Universe.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, we will still know that God is in control.

I don’t think I have to ask you how you did. The answers are obvious.

God has established Mr. Obama for such a time as this. For what we don’t really know. But our job is not to speculate. Our job is to pray.

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, (2) for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. (3) This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, (4) who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. – 1Timothy2:1-4

Blessings to you on this morning after.

PC

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With everything going on in our world today, I thought I would share a few thoughts.

Because God’s will is sovereign, perfect, and exhaustive, we can be sure that every event is scheduled, every crisis is controlled, every crisis has a purpose, and every crisis brings with it the providential care of God. Therefore, we have a choice to make. We can choose to ignore what’s going on around us and use God’s sovereignty as an excuse for inaction; we can choose to panic which will either reveal that we believe God is limited or powerless; or we can choose to live by faith which is based on the authority of Scripture, the character and integrity of God, and the person and work of Jesus Christ. Of course, the best option is #3. But what is does living by faith look like in the midst of times like these?

Well. . . I believe it includes a lifestyle that reveals a belief in the truth that God leads us into the trials we face and the belief that we can rest no matter what those trials may be. It may be somewhat simplistic, but I believe faith-filled living should include two basic questions when every trial is encountered: What can I learn? and How should I respond?

For example, what did we learn about the majority of Americans during October, including ourselves? We love money more than God. We love the world more than heaven. We love our comfort more than our conformity to Christ. We love our happiness more than holiness. We are spoiled. Ouch!

But how should we have responded and how should we respond in the future, especially Wednesday after the election? II Timothy 1:7 says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-discipline.” That means we should not respond in fear, worry, or anxiety no matter what our situation may be. Rather, we should respond in boldness, love, and self-discipline.

We should pray for wisdom to respond hopefully. We should then respond hopefully and then proclaim the reason for our hope (I Peter 3:15). We should love and reach out to those who are directly affected by the economy and other difficult times we encounter. We should be ready to help whenever possible. And finally, we need to make sure we don’t buy into the prosperity craze or revisit the emotions and decisions of the Y2K hysteria. We should be balanced realists who don’t ignore certain situations or panic but respond with credibility. Above all, we should pray.

I’m sure there are a number of other things we might do, but these are just a few that came to mind.

Grace be with you.

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