|From the Pastors Desk||†|
Manchaca Bible Fellowship
|20 February 2005||Bible Lessons
In the past few lessons, I have tried to establish a workable introduction to the eternal and infinite subject of Biblical redemption. In the last lesson, we saw that the subject of redemption is vast, and is interlaced and interdependent on many other Biblical subjects.
These are just a few of the subjects closely related to redemption, and we need a clear understanding of each and how they relate to one another and redemption. I had to hurry out the door after the last lesson, but someone made a comment as I was leaving that they never dreamed redemption was so detailed and complicated.
I have good news for you. I can assure you that receiving Godís redemption is one of the simplest transactions a person can be involved in. There is only one thing you must do to receive Godís redemption, that is obey Godís word concerning the reception of that redemption.
The only thing you can do, is "accept" Christ as your personal Savior. God uses several descriptive words to help us understand this transaction of "accepting" Christ as Savior.
One of those words is "believe". Believe that Christ paid for your sins on the Cross, and that God will give you the "Gift of God" which is Eternal Life. Another word God uses to help us understand the simplistic nature of this act of accepting Christ is "receive". We are to "receive", by faith, what God has done for us, and that action is without any merit on our part.
You donít have to know the details of Godís plan of redemption to be a part of that plan. However, if you want to know the full personal joy of this redemptive plan, and grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ, you will have to spend a lifetime studying this infinitely detailed plan of God.
Godís plan of redemption is so intricate and detailed that no human mind can fully comprehend it this side of eternity, and even then, I would not be surprised if we spend all of eternity discovering all that is involved in this eternal plan. How very sad to see good Christian people, even professional theologians relegating God plan of redemption to a few pages of human thought and wisdom.
Step back with me to a point before time. Yes, to a point before there was an earth or stars. Back to a point before God spoke into existence the innumerable universes. Please forgive my imagination, but it is the only way I know to express thoughts far beyond my knowledge, experience and communication skills.
Before time began, the Godhead had an Eternal Life Conference around a "triangular" table. (It would have to triangular if the Trinity were to sit around it. Wouldnít it? So much for my imagination.) God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit were at the "conference", and God the Son became the "Elect of God" to be the dynamic agent in the provision of redemption.
I havenít the slightest idea how God communicates with Himself. NOR do I understand why God decided to do what He did at that conference. Those decisions are referred to by many titles. Some theologians refer to them as the "Divine Decrees" of God.
Whatever we call these decision of God, we have to be careful that we donít fall in love with our manmade titles, and miss the import of those divine decisions. We must be VERY careful that we do not try to force the actions of God to fit our theological titles.
The all wise God, the all knowing God, the totally sovereign God made some plans at the Eternal Life Conference that just do not make good human "common sense". The important fact of that statement is to see that God acted contrary to good "common sense" -- the common sense of mankind.
As a result, over the years, many good people have tried to force Godís actions into the parameters of good "common sense". Sometimes we call the results of this process theology. The term, theology, is somewhat a misnomer for this human concept of God.
Too often, this process is not a study or a searching for the knowledge of God, BUT an attempt to find a few statements or even a verse or two that substantiates the "common sense" of the individual. Some good well meaning people have tried to explain Godís decisions at that Conference and His actions since that time by their standard of "common sense".
Therefore, we have one set of theologies that say God must have meant and is acting according "x, y & z", because that is the only reasonable explanation of God actions, according to the "common sense" of a particular theologian.
On the other side, we have a set of theologies that say God must have meant and is acting according "a, b & c", because that is the only reasonable explanation of God actions, according to the "common sense" of another theologian.
This same actions and limited conclusions are repeated many times over by good people who want to explain who God is and what God has done by "common sense". They do this so that the person and actions of God will be compatible with human logic. Human logic, as good as it is, is based on and limited to what is experienced and known in the sphere of time and physical activity. Please donít try to limit God to the sphere of time.
The major problem with such a system is, that each of these good people have such a limited scope of "common sense". Therefore, we have many theological divisions and each theological division looks at the other divisions and says they are all heretics, because the others do not agree with my "common sense".
It is high time we forgot our limited "common sense", when it comes to Bible study, and engage in discovering what God said about Himself and His actions, EVEN if those discoveries do not "fit" within our limited nomenclature.
I can only imagine the heartache and maybe even a little divine humor as God says, "Folks!!!! Forget the Ďcommon senseí, because if you put all the Ďcommon senseí of all humans of all time in one pile, you would not even have a grain of sand compared to My infinite off-hand thoughts, to say nothing of my divine plan of the ages."
Again, let your minds go back to the Eternal Life Conference with the Godhead, before time. It was at that "conference" that the Second Person of the Godhead became the Elect of God to bring redemption to the world. Look at how Isaiah describes it inÖ
Isaiah 42:1 "Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
As we look at the context of that statement, it is clear that the reference is to Christ, the Messiah of God. Christ the Anointed or Chosen One mentioned here and referred to as "My Servant" and "My Elect", is the person of the Trinity Who became the Savior and the Judge of the world. Isaiah goes on to describe this saviorship and judgeship in the rest of verse one and following.
Isaiah 42:1 I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. 2 He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
By the way, the last part of verse one has reference to the End Times, as per the total context of Isaiah, and verse two has reference to the actions of Christ while on earth.
In Christís first coming, He was meek and mild. In Christís second coming, He will bring justice. That process of bringing justice is described elsewhere in Isaiah. Even Isaiah writes that this Messiah or Sent One was not just a Savior of Israel, but also the Gentiles. After a quick reference to Christís actions during His life on earth and His death, Isaiah goes on to mention that final judgment and justice that will come to the earth through this Elect One.
Isaiah 42:3 A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. 4 He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His law."
When did the Second Person of the Trinity become The Elect One of God? Sometime in eternity past, before the world were made. For we see that Christ was the "Lamb slain before (or from) the foundation of the world".
This bit of information concerning the "time-line" of Godís redemption is found in the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Once again, pointing out how vital it is that we search all the Scriptures, compare them and harmonize them in establishing doctrine.
Revelation 13:8 And all who dwell on the earth will worship him (the antichrist or antitrinity), whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
No! Christ was not crucified on the cross before the worlds were formed, but obviously, it was determined that Christ would die on the cross before the worlds were formed.
Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which is according to godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, 3 but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;
Unlike a human determination or promise, when God makes a promise concerning a future event, it is as certain as though it had already happened! God is omnipotent, therefore very capable of carrying out His promise. God is also the very essence of veracity and immutability, therefore He cannot lie or be untrue to Himself. When God speaks it is DONE, even though the action may not take place for sometime! Godís promises may not be fulfilled in a "timely" manner, according to human "common sense".
2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
We humans, by means of our "common sense", CANNOT comprehend Godís time schedule. God does not count time or days in the same manner as our finite minds.
The seeming delay in the accomplishment of Godís promise is for the very purpose that God is not willing that ANY should perish BUT that ALL should come to repentance.
So, before we go any further in our pursuit of the intricacies of Godís plan of redemption, let me turn the spot light on you. If it seems like a long time since God started the redemptive plan, thereís at least one reason.
God is not nearly as concerned with your understanding of the technicalities of the plan, as He is in the accomplishment of that plan in your life. If you have not received Christ as your Savior, Christ is eagerly waiting for you to reach out, in faith, and say "Yes" to Godís provision. God is patient and longsuffering, but God is not complacent.
Psalms 103:9 He (God) will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
God has provided all you need for Salvation, the next move is up to you. Reject what God has provided and you will get exactly what your deserve.
Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
God so loved us that He dose not want us to receive what we deserve. Instead, God wants us to become a child of His, through the New Birth.
John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 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:
If you have not received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, why not pause right not and reach out to God in faith and receive His Gift of Eternal Life? If you are a Child of God, through the New Birth, why not use this time to thank God for your salvation and pray for someone who is still outside the Godís family?
Yes, BEFORE God created a single grain of sand on this earth, before there was a single moonbeam, God loved you and made a plan of redemption, just for you. It was the second person of the Godhead that became the Elect One, the Anointed One to come to this earth that was not even formed yet, to bring redemption of humans who had not been created yet.
My, friend, thatís love!!!!
Long after Godís plan was completed and in place, God gave to sinful mankind an illustration, a picture so we would could have some comprehension of what redemption is all about. He gave, through Moses at the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the symbol of the Passover lamb.
Even long before the Exodus, God gave a similar symbol to Adam and Eve in the garden, after their sin. Yes! The second person of the Trinity became the "Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the worlds".
Tragically, some good people have viewed Godís plan of redemption through the filter of their "common sense", and saw that God said that "whosoever" will may come. Therefore, they naturally concluded that humans have a free will, and are responsible, by their own actions, for receiving their salvation, AND are responsible for retaining that salvation. As a result of this partial discovery of Godís redemption, they live their lives in fear of losing their salvation and ending up in the Lake of Fire.
On the other side of the theological "fence", some viewed Godís plan through the filter of their "common sense", and saw that God made certain determinations. Therefore, they naturally concluded that humans have no choice, and some must be saved and some must be lost for eternity based on Godís predetermination. As a result, some carry this thought so far as to say that our actions only have consequences for time. Therefore, it doesnít really matter how we live, as long as we can live in peace with those around us.
God and His actions are infinite and we miss so much by limiting our view of scripture by such finite conclusions.
The Bible states many things that are contrary to simple human reasoning:
Which of these shall we deny, because they donít make "common sense"? Please, donít limit your discovery of God and His actions to ONLY those things that "fit" within a limited theology composed by mankind. There is SO much to discover!! Yes, the truths of God are only limited by our narrow "common sense".
Job 9:4 God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered? 5 He removes the mountains, and they do not know when He overturns them in His anger; 6 He shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble; 7 He commands the sun, and it does not rise; He seals off the stars; 8 He alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea; 9 He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south; 10 He does great things past finding out, yes, wonders without number. 11 If He goes by me, I do not see Him; If He moves past, I do not perceive Him; 12 If He takes away, who can hinder Him? Who can say to Him, 'What are You doing?' 13 God will not withdraw His anger, the allies of the proud lie prostrate beneath Him. 14 "How then can I answer Him, and choose my words to reason with Him? 15 For though I were righteous, I could not answer Him; I would beg mercy of my Judge. 16 If I called and He answered me, I would not believe that He was listening to my voice.
NO!! We canít rely on our "common sense", if we would know Who God is and what God does.
Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?" 35 "Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?" 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
It is important what you KNOW about redemption, because what you KNOW about redemption will control what you BELIEVE about redemption and what you BELIEVE about redemption will dictate how you LIVE within redemption.
It is not clear in Scripture, whether God brought the angels into existence before or after that "Eternal Life Conference". Please, donít get too excited by the term "Eternal Life Conference". It is simply my way of referring to Godís pre-decisions. As I said, I have no idea how God communicates with Himself. However, the Bible says that the angels sang at the creation of the worlds, so they must have been here before that creation.
Sometime after the creation of the world, a created being, the angel called Lucifer, convinced a third of the angels that he, Lucifer, was really the God of gods. As a result, Lucifer lost his position as the Covering Cherub, and became the demon we know as Satan or the Devil. This started the "Conflict of the Ages", between Satan and God in which Satan presented, to the angels and is continually presenting to mankind, his counterfeit type of redemption.
The question is so often ask, "If God was so smart, why didnít He stop Satan before he did such damage?" On the other hand some state that, "God is sovereign, therefore it is His plan or at least His fault that sin is here. Therefore, mankind is not responsible for the mess, God is!"
Those thoughts and many more only show how finite our thinking really is. Some want God to act like they would act, if they were God. We want to be careful of such thinking. That is dangerously close to the thinking of Lucifer before he became Satan.
First of all, I, nor any other human has the answer to those questions. BUT Iím here to tell you, that God knew what was going to happen, but He did not cause it to happen. However, that did not limit the sovereignty of God. It only proves His sovereignty.
Some try to impose a type of Sovereignty upon God and His action that defies even the most liberal definition of sovereignty. They want to impose a "common sense" definition that says creatures have no choice for their actions, whether those actions are good or evil. Therefore, there are no future consequences to their actions, apart from what happens in time only.
Through this "common sense" approach, they say that humans can only do the will of God, and Godís will is that some can accept redemption and some cannot. You know, if the angels, mankind and other creature could ONLY do what I wanted them to doÖ EVEN I could be that type of sovereign.
Iím here to tell you that we have a greater God than someone who controls a bunch of robots without choice or determination. We have a God SO great that He can give the angels the right to choose to follow Satan, and a third did. BUT even so, God is so great that even that did not change, one bit, His plan for time and eternity. That is the God we have, and your redemption depends on that fact, even it you canít understand it or even if it doesnít make good "common sense".
Yes, before there was a world, before there was a human, Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Then He did create the world. Sometime after that creation, Satan rebelled with a third of the angels. Later, God created mankind.
"If God knew (and He did) that mankind was going to sin, why did He go ahead and create human life?" That is a question I canít fully answer, nor can any other human.
The real question is not WHY, but now WHAT? We are here, you know?!?!! The "why", we can get answered in eternity, when we are not limited by our depraved and sinful minds. What we need now is "what" do we do, and "how" do we do it.
Adam and Eve did sin, and God gave them the symbol of a substitutionary atonement, possibly a lamb, weĎre not told. As time passed, the second person of the Trinity did come to earth as a human, named Jesus.
He was truly a human and he was also truly the Christ, the Elect One or the Sent One as appointed at that "Eternal Life Conference" before time began. This "anointed one" was declared, during time, to be the Lamb of God, by John inÖ
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Yes, that One, Who was declared to be the "Lamb of God slain before foundation of the world", came to this world and allowed Himself to be slain as the Sacrificial Lamb for my sins and the sins of the whole world.
1 Peter 2:22 "Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth"; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness - by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
The sacrificial aspect of the second person of the Trinity was only one aspect of the redemptive program, and His "Lambship", for lack of a better word. Redemption not only includes our personal relationship with God, it also includes the redemption of the earth and the judgment of all that is evil.
Revelation 17:14 "These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful."
Revelation 6:15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 "For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?"
Revelation 22:3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. 4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. 5 And there shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.
Revelation 20:14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful." 6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
Oh! My friend! There is SO much involved in the redemption of God! Please, donít miss the joy that comes by knowing what and living in all that God has revealed in His Word, simply because you want to use "common sense".
Faith is Godís prescription for living a life that is out of this world, while still trapped in this world.
|© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2005|