Trusting In The Right Thing

What makes someone a genuine Christian? Good works? Obedience to Scripture’s precepts? Praying “the sinner’s prayer” or making a “decision” to follow Jesus?

When people ask for evidence of our salvation, do we point to how much we pray and study the Bible? Do we tell them about our various ministries within our local churches or our involvement with parachurch organizations? Maybe we mention how we homeschool our children, or how we’ve forsaken sexual sin? Surely each of these things demonstrate our love for the Lord! Right?

Um, not really.

A lot of those behaviors are good, but only as responses to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. We aren’t Christians because of anything we do. We’re Christians because He shed His blood to satisfy the wrath of God that actually belongs to us. He redeemed those who trust in His finished work on the cross. His grace, and only His grace, makes us His   children.

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Flashback Friday: Which All People Did Jesus Die For?

Originally posted April 25, 2016

Pink tulips framedThe doctrine of Limited Atonement seems contradictory to the Bible verses that talk about Jesus dying for all people. I had difficulty accepting the doctrine because of such verses myself, so I do sympathize with my Christian brothers and sisters who believe God’s Word refutes it. Consequently, I pray that I can maintain an attitude of humility as I demonstrate how to understand these Scriptures while still affirming that Christ shed His blood specifically for those who would believe in Him.

Obviously I can’t examine every verse that people use to support the belief that Christ died for everyone in this single article. And it would probably be tedious if I wrote a separate article about each verse in question. So I’ve decided to show you just one passage, which I believe offers helpful context. I will also explain how the passage fits into the broader context of the apostle Paul’s teaching. Once you see my hermeneutic in understanding this passage, I pray that you’ll apply it to the other Scriptures on this issue.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. ~~Titus 2:11-15 (ESV)

I see verse 11 as   clearly as you do. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,” it says. But verse 14 says with equal force  that He “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession.” This verse makes it evident that God has formed a particular group of people, distinct from the world in general, to belong exclusively to Him. Therefore Christ’s sacrifice only applies to this select group.

How does verse 14 then square with verse 11? Looking at Titus 2:1-10 provides the needed context:

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.~~Titus 2:1-10 (ESV)

Notice that Paul addresses a variety of sub-groups within the church in Crete. Although each sub-group has its own distinct responsibilities, they all function in ways that bring honor and glory to the Lord. Salvation crosses lines of gender, age and socioeconomic position. Paul affirms the same principal in Galatians 3:25-29.

Having once been a Jewish Pharisee who believed salvation was limited to his ethnic group, Paul delighted in knowing that  Gentiles could enter into God’s Kingdom through the shed blood of Jesus Christ (see Romans 1:16 and Ephesians 2:11-22). Titus 2:11, therefore, ties in with these Scriptures  (and others like them) to celebrate the glorious fact that Christ opens salvation to every race and nation. Salvation appears, not just to Jews, but to believers from every nation!

Praise the Lord that all who believe in Him, not just the physical descendants of Abraham, have the privilege of His salvation. We should feel humbled by His generosity to include us in His elect, mindful that we’ve done nothing to deserve His favor.

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‘Twas Grace That Taught My Heart To WHAT?

Fearing God fell out of fashion decades ago, and I’d venture to guess that it’s not going to make a comeback among most evangelicals. Popular wisdom (if you can really call it wisdom) says that we should come to Christ out of love,  not out of fear.

But I praise God for allowing me to feel afraid of eternity in hell for two weeks in January of 1971. It was a miserable two weeks, most assuredly, and I wouldn’t want to repeat them. But the Lord graciously gave me that dreadful period of fear as a preparation for hearing that Jesus died for my sins.  The grace of fearing God enabled me to experience the grace of receiving His mercy.

Verse 2 of Amazing Grace reminds me of that horrible two weeks and that wonderful day when He opened my heart to the Gospel. Indeed, it was grace that taught my heart to fear, and precious grace relieved those fears!

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An Invitation To Sinners Only

As you read through the four gospels,  you can’t help but notice the spiritual pride of the Pharisees. They found Jesus offensive because He threatened their political power, certainly, but also because He confronted them with their inherent sin. They believed that their acts of righteousness (a righteousness, by the way, devised from their own rules rather than God’s Word)  pleased the Lord. They couldn’t come to Jesus because they simply didn’t believe they needed a Savior.

In contrast, I see my sin all too clearly! I’ll be the first to tell you exactly how wretched and disgusting I really am! And if you doubt me, my husband and my sister could easily testify to my corrupt nature. I know how poor and needy I am with respect to a righteousness of my own.

I also know that Jesus took my sin upon Himself on the cross. As a result, I can go to Him, trusting Him to give me His righteousness. My need for Him opens me to receive His mercy, causing me to glorify Him instead myself.

Are you poor and needy enough to arise and go to Jesus?

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What Can I Say About The Gospel That Hasn’t Already Been Said?

cfce9-crossofresurectionLately, evangelicals have been telling us that social justice is a “Gospel issue.” A recent comment on one of my blog posts suggested that the Gospel teaches us to have unity despite theological differences (a point worthy of its own article). These sentiments, as well as similar sentiments I’ve heard throughout the years,  prompt me to think that we need periodic reminders of what the Gospel actually is.

Most of you may decide not to read this article. Why waste time reading about something so basic? Do I have new insights into the Gospel? Perhaps a fresh take on it? Can I present it in a creative manner that Continue reading

Praising God For Breaking My Heart

John DrawingYesterday I read several chapters in Proverbs, carefully noticing all the verses on the sinfulness of anger and being a quarrelsome wife. I know all too well how weak I am in both areas. So I thought I approached them with humility, acknowledging my failures to honor the Lord by controlling my temper and respecting John.

Yeah,  well.  The wheelchair vendor put John in his new chair a few hours after I read those Scriptures. The new chair has multiple problems — far too many to enumerate here — that seriously impact John’s health. We’re talking life-threatening issues.

To make matters worse, his current wheelchair Continue reading

All The Ransomed Church Of God

None for whom Jesus died will miss out on heaven. Isn’t that a beautiful thought? His blood covers the sins of everyone who believes in Him, and it won’t lose its effect until every last person elected for salvation receives Him.

That assurance encourages me to keep praying for family and friends who don’t know Christ, as well as to proclaim the Gospel whenever I have opportunity. The Lord won’t return until He has claimed every one of His own. Since He has ordained that the Holy Spirit bring people to faith through the preaching of His Word, we must be diligent to evangelize the world.

Additionally, knowing that the blood of Jesus won’t lose its power until He saves everyone destined for His kingdom offers comfort. No one will believe after it’s too late. The blood of Jesus is inexhaustible as far as His own are concerned, enabling us to trust that He won’t leave anything undone.

How can we fail to praise such a magnificent Savior?

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