The Pattern from Eternity
"4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will," (Eph 1:4-5 AV)
"28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 ¶ For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Ro 8:28-29 AV)
Man, emphatically, is not the captain of his soul, nor master of his fate.
He would like to think so, but the reality testifies against him as does the Scriptures. For the children of God their pattern is from eternity, written in the eternal decree of God, sent into the world in the Person of the Son of God, and worked in them by the Holy Spirit.
It is not for you or for me to decide this for ourselves, to determine [!] what sort of person we are going to be, for it is God that works us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Even the good works that we are called to do are not to be defined by ourselves but have been "forordained that we should walk in them."
This is not to mean that we are not called to make the choice or that preachers are not called to exhort us to do good works. On the contrary we are called to "put on Christ," " put off the old man" and "put on the new man." The will of man is real and he is responsible for his choices. But what is he to put on? whatever suit of clothes he fancies he would look good for himself or for his neighbors? No. He is to put on Christ, the model from eternity.
People choose according to their fancies and corrupt hearts, but the sheep of the Lord know his voice and they follow Him. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism.
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Thursday, February 14, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Good and Profitable
"This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men." (Tit 3:8 AV)
It is a good and faithful minister that constantly reminds his congregation to maintain good works.
When this is done and the appeal is to thankfulness and the love of God, the minister is not preaching works righteousness. Instead, he is being obedient to his call.
This is so transparently good, that only a certain defensive blindness could miss it. It is good for a congregation to have love for each other. It is good for them to protect the reputation, the property, the life, and the joy of other members of the congregation. Just as a person must drive on the right side of the road in America in order to show his love for his neighbor and not imperil life, property, and happiness, so a Christian must maintain good works if he is to be a blessing to his brothers and sisters in the church.
Often churches and communities are dominated by bullies that do not maintain good works. They lord it over others in the congregation by the force of their personality and sometimes by a pretended piety. They intimidate others and impose their will on their churches and their families and friends by bullying tactics--by fear, guilt, and such. They use many different tactics for the rebellious heart is very fertile in such things. Even children are very innovative when they seek methods to circumvent the will of their parents.
The constitutions of the church are designed to protect in biblical ways the rights of all; not only the rights of the members of the church, but the rights of its officers and leaders. If every member of the church is allowed to carry on guerella warfare against the officers of the church, the duty of the officers to obey the scripture quoted above is impaired or obliterated. This is so transparently true that the only reason someone would dissent would be in order to overthrow legitimate government and impose their will on others, contrary to the covenant of the church. In such cases the whole church will suffer.
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