Posts tagged ‘theology’

We Smell Like Something

Scientists, through diligent research, have concluded that our olfactory senses (smell) are the ones most closely linked to our memories. There are many things, such as a the smell of certain foods cooking, that bring back many fond memories from long ago during the Christmas season. Unfortunately, there are also specific odors that are linked to horrible memories and can send people into panic attacks or make them physically ill. Such is the power of olfactory memory.

In the same way, our spiritual lives have memories. Certain songs bring back memories of worship services with my father leading singing, or of times of worship at Sierra Bible Camp. Various Bible verses bring to mind situations in life where they became especially poignant. And spiritual memories can encourage or discourage us in our walk with God. Likewise, the Gospel message has a lasting effect on those who have heard it. You see, no matter what happened at the time, there was either a positive or a negative response to that message. Paul is speaking of such things in his second letter to the church at Corinth.

14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:14-17 KJV))

In later years, we can look back with gratitude on a lesson we heard that “sealed the deal” for us and elicited a response to the Gospel. Many, with deep regret, will look back at the judgment, and perhaps for all eternity, on squandered chances to respond with obedience and faith. Whenever the Gospel message is preached, due to the power of the “living and active” Word of God (Hebrew 2:14), we are enabled to respond, and do so. To ignore the message or brush it off, is to reject the message. We are confronted with decisions of eternal consequence, so our response needs to be carefully weighed, in light of its eternal consequences.

The Gospel message is seen as offensive by those who reject it. That is true because it causes such discomfort when our pride is wounded by our sin being exposed. The Gospel says that we are dead in sins (Ephesians 2:1) and we don’t like that. It offends us to find out we have been duped by the “father of lies” (John 8:44) and that as a consequence we are doomed to eternal destruction. In that way, it is an aroma of “death unto death” (v. 16).

But we have another option. We can repent and believe the Gospel. If we can set aside our pride and admit to our spiritual bankruptcy before God, we can be saved. For the Gospel does not end with a message of death and destruction. It continues with a message of hope and new life in Christ Jesus!  We learn about His offer of life, and if we respond in obedience we are graced with eternal life. Thus, in the case of those who are saved, it is a message of “life unto life” (v. 16). What we have to decide is which type of message it will be for each of us!

But there is another warning here for those who proclaim the message. It is not to be corrupted, watered down, or peddled. I really like the way the Amplified Bible translates verse 17:

17 For we are not, like so many, [like hucksters making a trade of] peddling God’s Word [shortchanging and adulterating the divine message]; but like [men] of sincerity and the purest motive, as [commissioned and sent] by God, we speak [His message] in Christ (the Messiah), in the [very] sight and presence of God.

The Apostles did not use the message for personal gain. I often wonder whether Jesus or the Apostles, had they been with us today, would have made money by selling their teaching series on CD or DVD to their partners. No, they had a threefold commission to preach the Gospel.

They were:

1.        Sincere and had pure motives. There was no thought of personal gain or of being popular and accepted by the culture.

2.        Commissioned and sent by God. Their only thought was to be faithful to the God who commissioned them. They were not consumed with thoughts of making the message more palatable for their listeners or of marketing their ministries.

3.        They spoke the message in Christ, in the sight of God. Their sole mission was to be pleasing to God. They also kept themselves cognizant of the fact that God was watching over all that they did and would hold them accountable for completing the work he had sent them to do.

So yes, we all smell like something. Our message will have, not only different, but completely opposite effects on those who hear us. So rather that water down the message, realize that it only matters what God thinks of us, and that our reward is not determined by our popularity with men, but our faithfulness to God.

 2corinthians2_14

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Picking A Different TULIP

Picking A Different TULIP

On many occasions I encounter staunch Calvinists, who hold to a system of doctrine that uses the acrostic of T.U.LI.P. These letters stand for:
Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace, and
Perseverance of the Saints.

As with many doctrinal systems, there is an element of truth in each of these doctrines if one defines their own terms. Well, I have decided to pick a different TULIP, using my own titles to make the acrostic work. Plus, finding away to make anything memorable out of chrysanthemum was just too hard.

Total Natural Inability – Apart from an encounter with the Word of God, and the Spirit which makes that Word living and active, the natural man is incapable of, and unwilling to, find salvation and regeneration. Only when the Word of God is heard and understood can there be faith (Romans 10:17) and without faith it is impossible to please God. Left to his own devices, a natural man is totally unable to find salvation.

Unconditional Corporate Election – God has predestined that all who are “in Christ” will be justified, sanctified and glorified. This election is one of the group, or corporate, vice individual in nature. The gift of salvation is free to “whosoever will” appropriate it. At that moment, one is in Christ and has access to everything else that is in Christ, such as redemption and justification.

Limited Efficacy of Atonement – The atonement, purchased for the elect at the cost of the blood of Christ and through His finished work on the cross, is only beneficial (or efficacious) for those who are saved. It’s value is sufficient for all mankind, but only efficacious who believe and obey the Gospel.

Irresistible Love and Grace – Once a sinner whose heart is prepared (i.e. good soil) hears the Word of God preached and truly comprehends the love that God has shown him in his lost state through the sacrifice of His Son, he or she will repent and run to Jesus Christ for salvation. Those who reject this invitation either do not comprehend, or have hearts which have been hardened to the point of inability to receive the seed of the Word.

Perseverance of the Saints – Those who are saved and are faithful to the end, or at least by the end, have persevered and receive the crown of life. The saints should continually be encouraged to persevere, so as not to grow weary and quit the race. In the vast majority of cases, salvation is not lost; it is left. The secret to final victory is this – don’t quit!

I know there will be points of agreement and disagreement, and there is probably some verbiage that could be tweaked to make what I am trying to say more easily understood. But the purpose is to provoke to discussion and to individual searching of the scriptures like the Bereans in Acts 17:11.

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