YES, I HAVE BEEN BLINDED

It seems it is becoming more and more prevalent to read articles or find posts on social media which either insinuate or state in no uncertain terms that those who don’t embrace the agenda of secular humanism  and the progressive left, are blind to the prevailing times of tolerance and political correctness of all moral behavior and actions no matter how out of the norm, debased, perverted, or bizarre they may be. (I use the word “tolerance” as the compromise of moral and biblical convictions, a yielding of ground upon critical ethical, moral and biblical issues.) Those who don’t embrace the changing times of tolerance  have been labeled as “deplorables” and blinded by antiqued beliefs and old fashion doctrines that are fanciful to the reality of the way it ought to be and should be.

I must confess I am one of those who has been blinded. I count myself with the Apostle Paul who was blinded by the brilliant Light of Jesus Christ and as such viewed life differently from that day forward (Acts 9). Many moons ago as a college freshman, the Lord removed the scales from my eyes and shone His glorious Light into my eyes to see the brilliance of his face, blinding me to the way I used to think, live and behave. Being blinded by the Light of Christ, my “blindness” has led to embracing a biblical worldview.

Yes, I confess I have been blinded.

Having  been blinded by the Light of Christ, the eyes have been opened to behold the sacredness inherent in each human life. Since all life is sacred, I vehemently oppose the atrocious slaughter of babies through abortion, which is acceptable and even applaudable by those who see a baby as no more than a blob of cells. I unapologetically embrace the sanctity of life, that each life is created by God and bears His image. I will continue to remain blind to the agenda that thinks nothing of terminating a human life. The Light of Christ opens one’s eyes to see every life He created is of worth and value, and He gave His life that the sin-marred Image of God within us might be reestablished to communion with Him.

Having been blinded by the Light of Christ, as the stars are fixed in the heavens giving guidance to ancient travelers, the light of Genesis chapter 1-2 rests upon the brow of man and woman affirming God’s divine blueprint for the marriage relationship.  In the beginning God created Adam and Eve and joined them together. Marriage relationships which deviate from God’s original directive between a man and a woman are scripturally forbidden. Anything that is a perversion of biblical, traditional marriage weakness the home, society and the nation. The home, as ordained by God, is a bedrock of any stable society, and when that is destroyed society begins to sink into the quicksand of unrestrained immorality….which we are witnessing today in society.

Having been blinded by the Light of Christ, the divine rays of identity normalcy  shine exposing the deceptive delusion that one’s gender is fluid. God created male and female, and that can’t be altered. To mistakenly believe otherwise is to strike at the very core of one’s identity as to who God created one to be. One who accepts gender fluidity as normal is dismissing the truth that God created each person as either male or female for a distinct and definite purpose. To deny one’s biological identity is to deny God’s wisdom in His creation and abandon the creative purpose for which one was born.

Having  been blinded by the Light of Christ, His glorious light illuminates the false assumption that all religions are equal in their endeavors to obtain salvation and entrance into heaven. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Christianity alone has the answer to the sin problem of man. The man-made religions of the world say, “Do this and do that, and you shall obtain salvation.” Christianity says, “Christ has already done all that is necessary for man’s salvation, believe and be saved.” Man is incapable of complying with God’s holy demands, Jesus on our behalf complied with those holy demands for us. Christ is the Door who gains us entrance into heaven, all other doors lead to eternal darkness.

Having been blinded by the Light of Christ, brings into focus  the truth that an orderly society is not possible without Christian principles of morality as the foundation of a society. History is littered with fallen nations which have proven the validity of this truth. Secular humanists can deny history all they want, this nation’s Forefathers, though they were not all Christians, recognized that any nation must have woven into its foundation biblical morality or chaos will result. John Adams, our nation’s second President and Signer of the Declaration of Independence, on June 28, 1813, wrote in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, “The general principles, on which the Fathers achieved independence, were the only Principles in which that beautiful Assembly of young Gentlemen could Unite, and these Principles only could be intended by them in their address, or by me in my answer. And what were these general Principles? I answer, the general Principles of Christianity; in which all these Sects were United.” The Bible says it clear, “The nation that forgets God is tuned into hell” (Ps. 9:17). Our nation’s chaos can be traced back to the relentless eroding of biblical morality.

Having  been blinded by the Light of Christ,  He has enlightened the eyes to see all of humanity as broken and in need of a Savior. One truth is certain beyond argument, man is broken, a sinner, and alienated from God. All humanity is broken and each of us have adopted different ways, lifestyles, and actions by which that brokenness is manifested. Our brokenness can be manifested through the adoption of many lifestyles and behaviors that deviates from God’s moral directives in regard to addictions of all kinds, gender confusion, sexual immorality, destructive social interaction, a mindset bent toward dishonesty and deceptiveness, cruelty toward one’s fellowman, and the list goes on. Seeing all humanity as broken, helps one to see that all need the message of Christ’s loving redemptive power which can deliver, restore and redeem. The cross of Christ is God’s answer to sin and man’s brokenness. When one sees humanity as broken it instills in one, while disapproving of the sin, a love for  the sinner as one for whom Christ gave His life that they might be redeemed and “fixed” from those actions and behaviors which damns and destroys the body and soul.

Yes, I have been blinded by the Light of Christ, and as such I see life through the glasses of a biblical worldview and my true magnetic North being the cross of Christ. There can be no compromise with the godless philosophies of secular humanism and any agenda that seeks to purposely undermine biblical morality and abandon the sacredness of life. As society descends further into a state of decadence and distancing itself further from the foundation on which it was once built, with each passing day my eyes focus more and more on the Eastern skies, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). It is my earnest prayer that the Gospel will shine forth in an effulgence of grace, inspiring wonder and adoration, which will produce an awakening in humanity for whom Christ died and desires each to gaze upon His glorious face which shines brighter than a thousand suns.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

WHAT IS MEANT BY THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD?

God is faithful. The Psalmist proclaimed, “For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5). What does it mean to say God is faithful? Is our saying He is faithful based on our perception of how we define faithfulness?

Recently I was praying about a matter of great concern, and the Lord graciously heard my cry, and in His grace I witnessed and experienced His hand move on my behalf and grant the answer to my request. I was thanking the Lord for how he granted my petition and said in praise, “Lord, I want to thank you for your faithfulness.” I stopped in the middle of my prayer, and asked myself this question, “Was I equating God’s faithfulness to the fact that he granted my petition?” Well, what if He had not granted my petition, would He then have been unfaithful? Is God’s faithfulness determined by whether or not he beckons to my request to turn situations and circumstances to my favor? Does God’s faithfulness in my life mean the absence of difficulties?

So, what is meant when the Bible says God is faithful? Faithfulness speaks to the very core of God’s character. Faithfulness has to do with being reliable, fidelity, firmness, stability, trustworthy, trueness to one’s word, dependability. While no earthly man is 100% faithful, the Bible teaches that God is 100% faithful in all He does in accordance with His divine character. God is always faithful to Himself. God is unchanging; therefore, He can never cease to be what He is and He will always be consistent with His righteous character.

God’s faithfulness cannot be defined by our perception as to whether or not events or circumstances work out in what we perceive to be in our favor. God is faithful even if events don’t turn out as we wish or think they should. God will never deny His own character or His divine plan to grant our request. God is always faithful to His character, for Him to do otherwise He would become unfaithful. Several examples are cited as to what is meant.

God’s faithfulness to His holy character. God will not and cannot deny His faithfulness in regard to his holy, moral character. When God created man He expressed His holy character in the form of moral directives that were for the welfare and blessing of humanity: that men should not steal, lie, covet, murder, that marriage is between a man and woman, that those of the same sex should not lay with one another as in the marriage relationship, honor thy father and mother, honor the Lord of heaven and acknowledge Him as Creator and Sovereign. When we violate God’s moral directives, negative consequences result. God will not be unfaithful to His moral nature by rescinding the consequences of violating His moral character. To do so He would not be faithful to Himself. God will be faithful to His moral character and will never rescind His holiness for anyone no matter how much one prays for Him to do so. Our nation today is experiencing the consequence of God’s faithfulness to His holy, moral directives.

God’s faithfulness in covenant. God made a covenant with Israel that if they were loyal to Him, didn’t embrace the god’s of the surrounding pagans, and would be a witness to the true God of heaven that He would bless them abundantly, but if they disobeyed and forsook Him they would experience the consequences of embracing other gods and would eventually go into captivity to other nations. God was faithful to His covenant, as when they obeyed Him they were blessed beyond measure and when they disobeyed they endured the bitter consequence of their forsaking their God. While the people blamed God when they found themselves in bondage, God was only being faithful to His covenant. He was faithful, they were not. God would have violated His faithfulness if He had changed the “terms” of the covenant to accommodate their disobedience. “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” (Deuteronomy 7:9).

God’s faithfulness to His Word. Joshua said, “Not one word of all His good promises have failed” (Joshua 21:45). Jesus stated, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). Both the OT and NT echo the message that all that God has recorded to us in His Inspired Word may be trusted, and that the Bible supplies us with reliable and dependable information and instruction that one can rely upon with certainty. One can be sure of the truthfulness and reliability of His Word. “All your commandments are faithful” (Psalm 119:86). The Lord wants us to have assurance that His promises cannot and will not fail. He has promised He will never leave us or forsake us regardless of the circumstances, that He will work all things (good and bad) for the good of those who love Him, that heaven awaits those who trust Christ, etc. Paul said all the promises of God in Christ are yes and amen (2 Cor. 1:20). To those who adhere to the Word find it is a firm foundation upon which to build one’s life, because God is faithful to His Word.

God’s faithfulness in salvation’s design. God will not can cannot deny His faithfulness in regard to His designed plan of salvation. The Bible is a Book of redemption/salvation history. The Bible records how God has revealed Himself to sinful man and how he progressively unfolded His divine plan to provide humanity with a way to come into the presence of Holy God, which culminated in the Christ of the cross. Since man cannot comply with the holy demands of God, judgment is holiness’ reaction to man’s willful sin and disobedience to God’s perfect holiness. For God not to judge sin He would have to deny faithfulness to His holiness. What is man to do? God in Christ came to earth to be the answer to man’s predicament. Christ in his perfect life complied with God’s holy demands on our behalf, and satisfied holiness’ judgment on sin as He hung on the cross. The Christ of the Cross is God’s ONLY provision to the problem of man’s sin, and He will not make an exception for me or you. If He did, He would violate His own faithfulness in regard to what He proclaimed in Jesus, “No man comes to the Father but through me.”

God’s faithfulness to His divine plan: The Psalmist wrote, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.” (Ps. 33:11). From the depths of the counsels of eternity, God set forth in motion a great master plan that involves all of creation and humanity that He is bringing to pass in real time. In and on his timetable He will bring to pass everything that He has purposed. Our finite minds cannot understand it all, how his plan is unfolding universally or in our individual lives, but we can be assured His divine plan is unfolding. As man stands in the train station of life, he is faced with two choices as the train of God’s master plan barrels down the tracks of history – either watch as the train passes by or get on board and ride with Him to His designed plan for our lives!! Isaiah wrote that he will bring it to pass with perfect faithfulness (Isaiah 25:1).

God’s faithfulness in His love. John declared, “God is love” (I John 4:16). God demonstrated His love toward us, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. God is faithful in His love toward humanity. One may reject His love, scoff at His love, but He will continue to be faithful in His love. One may hide themselves from the sun but one can’t keep the sun from shining. In Christ God has expressed a love that shouts He will never cease to love us, for even if we refuse him and find ourselves in hell His love will never cease. Such love boggles the mind. One may reject the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ but His holy-love still emanates from His faithful character continually urging all to embrace the Savior before it is too late. The faithfulness of God’s love as found in the Christ of the cross towers over time, bidding us to come unto Him and therein find the confidence of redemption and hope.

Yes, our Lord is faithful even if events or circumstances are difficult and don’t always appear to work out as we think they should. God’s faithfulness means He will never violate His character, but He will brings to pass in our lives that which will work together for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28). Whether we understand it or not, we can be assured that our Lord is completely reliable, trustworthy and faithful. Yes, God is faithful…always, all the time!

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

WHAT DOES “ONLY BEGOTTEN SON” MEAN?

Begotten SonRecently someone asked me to explain what was meant by the phrase found in the Fourth Gospel referring to Jesus as the “only begotten Son” (John 3:16). In John’s writings he uses the phrase “only begotten Son” five times in referring to Jesus (John 1:14; 1:18; 3:16; 3:18. I John 4:9) (the phrase is used nine times in the NT – three times in Luke, once in Hebrews, five times in John’s writings). It is important to understand what the phrase means, as erroneous teachers contend the word translated “begotten” teaches that Jesus is not equal to God in essence and that Jesus is not eternal in His existence, but was at some point in time created or “begotten,” contending Jesus had a beginning. Such a false conclusion fails to consider what the Greek word translated as “only begotten” actually implies and means.

While volumes have been written in seeking to explain the meaning of “only begotten,” an attempt will be made to be clarifyingly brief. The Greek word monogenes (μονογενής) is a compounded of monos (μονος) meaning “only, single of its kind” and genos (γενος) “race, family, offspring, kind.” The word is translated into English as “only” or “one and only” or “only begotten.”

According to one reputable Greek-English Lexicon, the word monogenes has two primary meanings in the NT. The first means “pertaining to being the only one of its kind within a specific relationship.” The author of Hebrews attaches this meaning of “only begotten son” when speaking of the special and unique relationship Isaac had with his father Abraham which no other earthly person shared (Heb. 11:17). Isaac was the “only one of [his] kind within a specific relationship” in regard to being the promised son of the covenant. The second meaning is “pertaining to being the only one of its kind or class, unique in kind, single of its kind, only.” (Walter Bauer, Editor F.W. Danker, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Third Edition, (University of Chicago Press, 2001).

The much-respected Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says “begotten” means “single of its kind, only….used of Christ, denotes the only Son of God or one who in the sense in which He himself is the son of God has no [equal] brethren….” (John 1:1-3).

Greek scholars Moulton and Milligan conclude from research of multiple early sources that monogenes means “one of a kind,” “only,” and “unique” (Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, Baker Academic, 1995, 416).

Without question Jesus is unique in kind, having no equal brethren. Jesus is the self-expression of the Father because He and the Father are One (John 10:30). That Jesus is the “only begotten Son” seeks to highlight the uniqueness of Jesus as the one and only Son of God who is one with the Father in eternal relationship, being in nature and essence One. In John 1:1-3, the Apostle of Love makes it clear that the “Word” (Jesus) was not only with God in the beginning but that the “Word” was God. Jesus as the eternal “Word” is more than just “one of a kind,” John is saying that Christ as the “only begotten Son of the Father” uniquely shares the very nature of the Father.

That “begotten” implies “one of a kind” or “only” or “uniquely unique” can be found in a myriad of Greek writings. Found in a second-century writing, the Martyrdom of Polycarp, is a doxology which reads “Now unto him who is able to bring us all by his grace and bounty unto his eternal kingdom, through his one and only (monogenes) Son Jesus Christ, be glory, honor, power, and greatness forever” (Martyrdom of Polycarp (20.2)).

Writing about the same time as the Apostle John (c. 95 AD), was Clement of Rome. In 1 Clement 25, Clement wrote of the Phoenix, a mysterious bird of the East, as monogenes; meaning that the bird was “unique” or “the only one of its kind” (Richard Longenecker, “The One and Only Son,” chapter 11, The Making of a Contemporary Translation (International Bible Society, 1991), 122).

Found in the writings of the sixth-firth century BC philosopher Parmenides, he spoke of the Supreme Being as “ungenerated, imperishable, whole, unique [monogenes], and without end” (Frag. 8.3-4).

Another place where monogenes is found to mean “unique” or “incomparable” is in the Wisdom of Solomon, a Jewish book written around 100 B.C. In it is found a hymn to God’s “Wisdom” in which it is said that “there is in her a spirit quick of understanding, holy, unique /incomparable (monogenes), manifold” (7:22). While Wisdom is personified, monogenes is used in referring to Wisdom as “unique” and being “from everlasting, from the beginning” (Proverbs 8:22).

In addition to the examples given, which help shed light on the usage and meaning of “only begotten,” many more quotes could be cited from classical Greek writings (i.e., Plato, Herodotus, etc) and from the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew OT), where monogenes is used in the sense of “unique, one of a kind, incomparable, peerless, matchless, of singular importance, or the only one of its kind” (Longenecker in Barker, Kenneth, “The One and Only Son,” chapter 11 in The NIV: The Making of a Contemporary Translation, Zondervan, (International Bible Society, 1991), 119-126, 165-166.)

In summary, the phrase “only begotten Son” has no reference to Jesus being a created being at some point in time, which would erroneously teach that Jesus and God would not be One in nature and essence. F. M Warden summarizes in Monogenes in the Johannine Literature, “The evidence hitherto presented leads to the necessity of regrading monogenes [translated “only begotten”]; as expressing basically uniqueness of being, rather than any remarkableness of manner of coming into being, or yet uniqueness resulting from any manner of coming into being” (Warden, Monogenes in the Johannine Literature, (SBTS: Ky, 1938), 35-36). As the uncreated One, “only begotten” stresses the uniqueness and “onlyness” of Jesus and the oneness of the relationship of the First and Second Persons of the Trinity.

When John uses the word “begotten” he is describing the uniqueness of Jesus as the Son of God and to the uniqueness of the relationship of God and Jesus as the result of their being of the same nature and essence. John by using the phrase “only begotten Son” is shining light upon the truth that Jesus is not only “one of a kind” or that He is “one and only and unique,” but Jesus is the true divine Son of God, having the same divine nature or essence as the Father (John 1). John seeks to highlight the uniqueness of Jesus as the one and only Son of God who is one with the Father in the eternal past in nature and essence, there never being a time when the Father and Son were not one and in relationship.

The early church seeking to give understanding that Jesus as the “only begotten Son” is not a created being but is the one and only unique, eternal Son of God, in one of the earliest creeds, the Nicene Creed (325 AD), stated in unmistakable words: “We believe…in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.”

O, what a Savior.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

BECOMING A VESSEL OVERFLOWING WITH THANKSGIVING

In reading First Thessalonians recently, 5:18 leaped off the page into my spirit, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” In doing a word study on the verse, the word translated “thanks” comes from the Greek word εὐχαριστέω (eucharisteō). The word comes from two Greek words, eú, “good” and charis, “grace.” It is thanksgiving based on and in the “good” grace of Christ.

The word translated “thanksgiving” is  used some forty times in the NT in various forms. The word is translated throughout the NT as “to be grateful, feel thankful, to give thanks, to consecrate a thing by giving thanks, to ‘bless,’ the giving of thanks at the beginning of a feast or in general before eating, to be grateful, to express gratitude towards God, to give praise for the wonderful works of God in Christ.” At the last supper before administering the bread and wine, Jesus gave thanks (eucharisteō) (Luke 22:19). It is where the word Eucharist is derived, being a transliteration of the Greek word eucharistia, which is another name for Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper. It means thanksgiving, giving thanks for the Sacrifice of Christ for the sins of humanity. When we celebrate Communion, we are expressing thanks to Christ for His sacrifice for our sins.

Our thanksgiving is rooted in the “good” grace found in the sacrificial work of Christ on our behalf. Christ’s grace being the foundation of our thanksgiving, not changing circumstance. The Christian’s thanksgiving is not dependent upon material blessings which can be lost, but our thanksgiving is based upon the finished work of Christ from whom all the riches of our spiritual blessings flow (Ephesians 1) Paul declares the Christian can be thankful in “everything” because no matter what happens the sacrificial work of Christ on our behalf is unchanging.

In I Thessalonians 5:18, the word “thanks” is in the present tense, active voice, which means thanksgiving is to be the active habit of our lives. It is also in the imperative mood which expresses a command to the hearer to perform a certain action by the order and authority of the one commanding, in this case Paul is commanding the Christian to give thanks in “all things.” Thus, thanksgiving should be a characteristic of the Christian life. We should be a vessel overflowing with thanksgiving. In the crazy, mixed-up day we live in where change occurs by the minute, let us anchor our thanksgiving in the forever settled work of Christ.

O, we have so much for which to be thankful. It is in thanksgiving we sense His refreshing, abiding presence and enjoy unbroken communion with Him. Thanksgiving is the beauty of the rose in a world of thorns, praise to our Lord being the fragrance filling the air with the scent of His presence. Because of what Christ did for us on Calvary, Paul wrote, “We are bound to thank God always….” (2 Thess. 1:3). Yes, thanks be to God for is unspeakable Gift (2 Cor. 9:15).

Thanksgiving isn’t just a holiday the fourth Thursday of every November – it is to be the daily attitude of our lives….vessels overflowing with thanksgiving.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

DOES THE LORD LEAD US INTO TEMPTATION?

I recently had a question asked of me regarding a petition found in our Lord’s Model Prayer or what is commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer. The petition specifically referred to is, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil [One]” (Matthew 6:13). The question asked was, “The way the sentence is worded it implies that the Lord is the one who leads us into temptation, and the petition is requesting the Lord not to do so. Does not James tell us that it is not the Lord who tempts us, yet that petition suggests He does?”

This presents an exegetical problem for many. How is one to interpret the meaning of “lead us not into temptation?” Let it be stated, the Bible is clear that God does not tempt us to do evil (James 1:13-14), but “God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape” (I Cor. 10:13). One can be sure that “lead us not into temptation” does not imply that God brings us into the place of temptation.

It is understood that many times when translating words into another language it is often difficult to find an equivalent word that best conveys the meaning of the original thought, and, as well, words often carry with them several meanings. The word translated “lead” in Matthew 6:13 in εἰσενέγκῃς (eisenegkes) which is the inflected form of the verb εἰσφέρω (eispheró) (eis-fer’-o). This is a compound verb formed by the preposition εἰς (to/into) and the verb φέρω (to bring into/carry something or someone). While “to bring into an area or bring in” is the basic meaning of εἰσφέρω the word has a rich history in Greek literature which sheds light on what the verse is petitioning.
Homer (c. 8th Cen BC) in the Iliad employed the word εἰσφέρω to speak of that which is “sweep along or swept away” like in the waters of a river. Herodotus (4th Cen BC) in Histories used the word εἰσφέρω to speak of “the proposing of political measures.” Other Greek writers used εἰσφέρω to refer to “being brought into” or “introduce” or “bring forward” (Henry George Liddell & Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, Oxford: Clarendon Press, revised 1940).

The various usages of the word conveys the idea of “don’t allow me to be swept away by temptation” or “don’t allow anything to be proposed against me that would defeat me” or “don’t let me to be introduced into or brought into temptation.” The petition parallels with what is found in Psalm 141:4 – “Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.” This petition also has a parallel in a daily prayer found in the Talmud (the Talmud is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law and Jewish theology), “Bring me not into sin, or into iniquity or into temptation. And may the good inclination have sway over me and let not the evil inclination have sway over men” (Berakot 605, Str-B 1:4).

In the light of the rich heritage of the word εἰσφέρω, the OT parallel in Psalm 141:4, and the daily prayer in the Talmud, the petition in Matthew 6:13 is best understood as meaning “don’t let me be swept away by the power of temptation” or “don’t let me succumb to the power of temptation” (Craig Blomberg, “Matthew,” New American Commentary, Volume 22, (Broadman Press, 1992) 119-121). The sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer is requesting protection against and deliverance from the sway of the Evil One who seeks to sweep us away like mighty river.

It is truly a daily prayer we need to lift to the Lord.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

RESTORING PASSION IN THE MINISTRY

The pastoral ministry is filled with the exhilaration of glorious mountain top experiences as well as discouraging valleys that seem too low from which to ever crawl out. The pastoral ministry is both rewarding and leaves one scratching their heads why they ever entered the ministry. The pastoral ministry is more than a profession, but a calling. I was once asked by a pulpit committee if I was a God called preacher. My response was, “Yes I am, for no one in their right mind would do this if they weren’t called.”

Pastors must develop fresh sermons every week, deal with sickness, surgeries and death among the members, listen to the personal problems of others, try to answer critics of why something was done a certain way, serve as a referee between squabbling parties, smooth ruffled feathers over trivial issues, try to keep a fresh vision before a congregation that often doesn’t want to latch on to the vision, is on call twenty-four hours a day, expected to keep confidences when they themselves often have no confidant, and the list goes on. One can see why it is easy for pastors to grow weary, discouraged and lose their passion.

A pastor is not superhuman as some might imagine. In the demanding age in which we live it is becoming all too common for a pastor’s passion to wane. Many great “pastors” have lost the fire in their embers. Moses got so agitated at the Israelites he wanted to throw in the towel. Jonah got irritated and went off into the corner and pouted. Elijah got discouraged and went off into the wilderness and asked God to take his life. Jerimiah got so provoked he turned in his resignation. The Disciples briefly went back to the fishing industry. So ministers losing their passion is not a twenty-first century phenomenon.

The question is what does a pastor do when his passion needle is heading toward empty or seems to have vanished altogether? How can passion in the ministry be restored?

First, the pastor must remember who called him into the ministry and that the One who called him is still on the throne. The one who has been called into the ministry is following in the steps of the Greatest Shepherd of all. Ministry is a holy and divine calling. And He who calls men into the journey of pastoral ministry has not vacated the throne. The author of Hebrews reminds that when one becomes weary and discouraged, consider Christ who endured untold hostility yet He remained faithful in His calling (Hebrews 12:3). One called into the ministry is not greater than his Master, so hostility and weariness will result… but the One who issued the call still sits on the throne serving as the example and imparting His strength to continue in the task at hand.

Second, the pastor must remember who dwells within. Paul stated that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead dwells within each believer (Romans 8:11), and that being so every pastor needs to realize they face no issue or problem in their own strength but have dwelling within a supernatural power from above (Holy Spirit). When one realizes that the power of the Lord of Glory indwells, it should not only bring humility but it should lite a passion in the heart to think that the Lord who spoke the universe into existence is willing to infuse us with Himself.

Third, when passion seems to be ebbing low the pastor must “offer the sacrifice of praise” (Heb 13:5). This is essential. It is easy to praise the Lord when all is going well. However, we must praise the Lord when it is not easy, when it is a sacrifice. Something unique happens when a pastor in personal worship, begins to praise God when the winds of life seem to be blowing contrary. Instead of concentrating on external issues and how one “feels,” give thanks in personal worship for God’s sovereignty, for God’s gift of His Son, for the salvation you have experienced, the call that has been placed upon your life, for His indwelling Holy Spirit, for the hope of heaven, etc. When the focus is removed from self and focused praise offered to the omnipotent God, there is a transformation that takes place in the soul that is supernatural. When one offers the “sacrifice of praise,” one embraces the truth that God is still good and can be trusted in spite of the storms. In habitual praise He is honored, and our faith grows deeper and passion restored.

Fourth, the pastor must recognize loss of passion is a spiritual battle. The devil wants the pastor to become discouraged and throw in the towel. The devil wants the pastor to magnify problems and interpret God in the light of the circumstances instead of interpreting the circumstances in the light of who God is. That is why the pastor must read the Bible for personal, spiritual nourishment and not just for a sermon. That is why the pastor must pray for his own spiritual growth not just the growth of his church. If the pastor is not growing spiritually, he can’t expect the members to be growing. There is no way to stand against the Evil One if we are not filled with the Word and we are not drawing upon His divine strength through prayer.

Fifth, the pastor must get proper rest and exercise. No matter how superhuman a man is, if he doesn’t get proper rest and exercise, he will find himself eventually going through the motions in his “ministerial” duties on a tank that is empty. It is called burn out. The Bible says one’s body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and when it is not properly looked after it will deteriorate. When Elijah became discouraged the Lord told him to do something very “spiritual” …. eat a nutritious meal and get some rest (1 Kings 19:5-18)! The pastor needs to at least three to four times a week do something considered physical exercise which will clear the mind and get the temple in better shape to do God’s work.

Sixth, the pastor must refuse the temptation to go it alone, to become a lone ranger, to withdraw from fellowship with fellow pastors. A pastor should never become so busy he doesn’t have time to intermingle with other pastors. Every pastor should have one or two ministers he can laugh with, cry with, pray with, and share his deepest secrets. No pastor is Atlas, who can bear the weight of the world upon his shoulders. A pastor needs some trusted friends who can help make the weight on the shoulders a whole lot lighter and help reignite the embers in the soul.

Do you need a restored passion in the ministry? Every pastor needs the kind of passion found in the words of Charles Spurgeon: “I no more believe it possible to stop ministers, than to stop the stars of heaven. I think it no more possible to make a man cease from preaching, if he is really called, than to stop some mighty cataract, by seeking, with an infant’s cup, to drink its waters. The man who has been moved of heaven, who shall stop him? He has been touched of God, who shall impede him? With an eagle’s wing he must fly; who shall chain him to the earth? With seraph’s voice he must speak, who shall stop his lips? Is not his word like a fire within me? Must I not speak if God has placed it there? And when a man does speak as the Spirit gives him utterance, he will feel a holy joy akin to heaven; and when it is over he wishes to be at his work again, and longs to be once more preaching. I think if God has called a man, he will impel him to be more or less constantly at it, and he will feel that he must proclaim among the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

Lord Jesus let it be so that a fire burns in our souls, a passion that is contagious, a passion that is greater than any earthly cause, a passion that forever exalts the atoning cross of Christ.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

HOW CAN ONE DISCERN THE WILL OF GOD?

For the child of God, discerning the will of God for one’s life is of the utmost importance. The desire of a surrendered Christian is to be in the center of God’s will. But discovering the will of God is not always easy. Some liken it to a fish flopping on the pond bank trying to make it back into the water. Is it possible to grasp the will of God or is it simply guess work? The will of God is not a nebulous concept that is ambiguous in its understanding. The will of God is not some mystical experience that is reserved only for those on a higher spiritual plain than us “common” folk. The Lord has a plan for the life of every Christian and discovering the will of God is not an elusive game of trivial pursuit.

How can one discern God’s will for their life? I share with you seven principles and insights that over the years I have employed in my own life that have been most beneficial when seeking to discover God’s will when faced with decisions.

First, if one is to discern God’s will it must begin with a prayerful surrendered desire to know His will above all else. We must be surrendered to the Lord, not clinging to unconfessed sin or deliberate sin which hinders us from hearing the Lord’s voice. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me nor can I hear His voice (Ps. 66:18). We all have our preferences, but if we are to know God’s will we must come before the Lord as Jesus did, “Lord, not my will be done, but your will be done.” The more we pray and the more we walk with Him daily, the better equipped we will be to hear, understand and do His will.

Second, we must pray for wisdom. The Bible says if anyone lack wisdom let Him ask of God who gives liberally to all those who have an open heart to receive it and who truly desire to hear from heaven’s throne (James 1:5). One must ask God to make the conscience sensitive to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. We must ask the Lord to give us insight beyond our limited wisdom which is often tainted with our own selfish desires. We must acknowledge Him in all our ways, and he will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Third, we must read the Word. Pursue the Bible, reading verses that are related to hearing God’s voice and asking are there any Scriptural verses prohibiting what is being considered? When a heart is surrendered, reading the Word makes hearing the Voice of God easier. We say we desire to hear the Lord’s voice, yet we shut out his voice when we ignore His word. Praying through Psalm 119 is a good way to prepare the heart to hear from heaven.

Fourth, don’t throw out common sense. Seeking God’s will doesn’t mean we put our minds in neutral. God expects us to think things through, use our minds, and not abandon common sense. While it is true, sometimes God’s will may go against the grain of what appears to be the logical choice, yet we are not to forsake sound reasoning either. Right down the pros and cons about the decision you are considering. Are there any red flags that have been raised? Are there questions you haven’t considered? Will the decision be in line with Scripture? Am I acting out of impulse or have I researched it thoroughly? Is my spouse in agreement?

Fifth, seek wise counsel from trusted, godly friends. Don’t seek out people who will tell you what you want to hear, but seek out counsel from those who love you and will pray for you and will tell you the truth, even if it is not what you want to hear. Godly people who love you will be objective and may see the situation from a perspective you have not considered and spot a matter you missed.

Sixth, heed that “check” in your spirit/conscience that warns not to proceed. Now there is a difference between being fearful of a new chapter in one’s life that comes with the apprehension of embarking upon an unknown path, and what I call a “check” in the spirit. Even if circumstances look favorable, but there is no inward peace and there is an uneasiness inside about proceeding forward, then don’t proceed forward. In time it may be revealed why you didn’t need to proceed forward or it may not be revealed, but regardless, if there is no inward peace and a “check” in your spirit, don’t go forward. Take that “check” in the spirit as the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Seventh, once you discern the voice of God move forward with confidence. While there will always be anxiousness when making a decision, once you have discerned what you believe to be God’s will, then move forward with confidence and don’t look back. Whether you decide to not move forward or to move forward, once you have made your decision believe it to be the right one and walk forward with assurance you made the decision that was in accordance with God’s will.

Are you seeking God’s will in a matter? These seven principles can prove beneficial as you seek His will. Remember, God doesn’t operate by the same calendar we do, so be patient. He will not withhold His best from those who seek Him.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

CAN YOU BE SURE THERE IS NO GOD?

An atheist once visited Martin Buber (1878-1965), the Austrian philosopher and ten-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and challenged Buber to prove to him the existence of God. When Buber refused to enter into a debate with the persistent man, the skeptic grew angry and abruptly headed to the door to leave. As he departed out the door, Buber in a loud voice posed the question, “But can you be sure there is no God?” The man wrote forty years later, “Buber’s question has haunted me every day of my life.”

Through the years I have been confronted by skeptics who have asked me to articulate proofs that God exists. While there is without question many reasoned and self-evident proofs that God exists, one not wanting to believe will dismiss them all as intellectually lacking. I have come to conclude over the years that the problem of unbelief in God is not a head problem (lack of evidence), but it is a heart problem. Instead of skeptics demanding that believers prove there is a God, let them prove there is no God. I concur with G.K. Chesterton who stated “the riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.”

To those who claim there is no God, can they answer Buber’s question, “But can you be sure there is no God?” If man possesses an eternal soul which will someday return unto the God who gave it and one must give an account for the life lived, is the short years one is granted on this earth worth the gamble of betting there is no God? Atheism is a terrible bet.

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), a French mathematician, religious philosopher and Christian, poses the question to skeptics, “Is it worth the wager that there is no God?” Known as “Pascal’s Wager,” found in his work Pensées (“Thoughts”)(1670),  Pascal contended it is the height of folly not to “bet” on God, even if you have no certainty, no proof, no guarantee that your bet will win. Pascal says, “Either God is, or he is not. But to which view shall we be inclined? Reason cannot decide this question. Infinite chaos separates us. At the far end of this infinite distance [death], a coin is being spun that will come down heads [God] or tails [no God]. How will you wager? Let us estimate these two cases: if you win, you win everything, if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager then it is without hesitation. Do not hesitate then: wager that he does exist.” [1]

Paschal argued that if one cannot arrive at reasoned conclusions that God exists, and since one can’t prove He does not not exist, the wise option is for one to live life as if God does exist because in doing so one has everything to gain and nothing to lose. If one lives as though God exists, and in reality, He does indeed exist, one has gained heaven and eternal happiness. And if God doesn’t exist, one has lost nothing. However, if one lives as though God does not exist and He really does exist, one loses their soul and loses heaven. If one weighs the choices, clearly the wise choice is to live as if God exists.

It is recognized that If one believes in God only as a “bet,” that is not the highest ideal or reason to believe, but it is a start. Pascal encourages the skeptic to believe in God not because one’s reason may be able to prove with certainty that God exists, but because the will seeks happiness, and God is one’s only path to  attaining happiness now and eternally. Pascal even contended that when one lived as if God does exist, the one living as if they had faith will lead one to actually coming to faith. He wrote, “That will make you believe quite naturally and will make you more docile.” Pascal’s Wager may not appeal to the highest ideals found in faith and speaks more to “our natural lights,” but in time will lead to full light.

The skeptic may say, “I am not going to wager at all.” Pascal replies, “But you must wager. Because of the fact of death there is no choice.” If God does not exist, it does not matter how you wager, for there is nothing to win after death and nothing to lose after death; however, if God does exist, one’s only chance of winning heaven is to believe, and one’s only chance of losing it is to refuse to believe. As Pascal says, “I should be much more afraid of being mistaken and then finding out that Christianity is true than of being mistaken in believing it to be true… Should a man be in error in supposing the Christian religion to be true? He could not be a loser by mistake. But how irreparable is his loss and how inexpressible his danger who should err in supposing it to be false.”

When one considers there are only two options: God exists or God doesn’t exist, then skepticism/atheism is a terrible bet. Pascal concludes, by calling “heads” God does exist, “I tell you that you will gain even in this life —purpose, peace, hope, joy, the things that put smiles on the lips of martyrs.” But if one calls “tails” God does not exist, and then he does, one has lost for eternity.  And if one is unable to believe, Pascal contends it is the result of selfish passions that hinders clear reasoning, for reason longs to believe. Pascal wants the skeptic to know his words urging one to “bet” the God exists “come from a man who went down upon his knees before and after..in prayer.” Pascal urges skeptics who seem bound by unbelief to learn from men like him who were once bound but now have wagered their all…and found it to be true.

Jesus warns that nothing is worth losing one’s soul, “What will it profit a man though he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26). And to those who want to gamble with their souls, the question of Buber is most thought provoking, “But can you be sure there is no God?”

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

[1] Quotes from Blaise Pascal, Pensées (trans. John Warrington), London: Dent (Everyman’s Library No. 874) 1932.

MY GRANDCHILDREN WILL NEVER KNOW

Someone remarked to me the other day, who was only a few years younger than me, that times have always been like they are today. The person who made the statement was old enough to know better. The person who made such a remark either carelessly misspoke or their memory has badly faded as to the way it was when we were growing up. When I first saw the light of day, Dwight Eisenhower was serving as President of the United States. While America has always faced tumultuous issues; no, times have not always been like they are today. We are living in times, as Paul stated that are “perilous” or savage (II Tim. 3:1). The Greek word he uses speaks of a wild beast jumping on its prey.

I must say when I pause to ponder the America of today, I am fearful for my grandchildren. My grandchildren will never experience what it is like to grow up in the America  in which I grew up. They will never know what it is like for the national conscience to be influenced by Christian morality and common decency. They will never know what it is like to be seated at their desk at school and begin the school day by hearing the teacher read from the Bible. They will never know what it is like to have the teacher say a “blessing” before marching to the lunchroom to eat. They will never know what it is like to see the Ten Commandments posted on the classroom wall. They will never know what it is like to not have history sanitized, but to actually hear a teacher teach that this country was founded by men and women who came to the New World for religious freedom and the opportunity to worship Jesus Christ without persecution and the reason this country has been blessed is because of its acknowledgment of the God of heaven and earth.

My grandchildren will never know what it is like to go to school without fear of some madman bursting through the door and shooting people. They will never know what it is like to not have police officers roaming the halls while school is in session. They will never know what it is like to walk through the door of a schoolhouse, a courthouse or an airport without walking through metal detectors or being patted down. They will never know what it is like when everyone owned a gun but to hear of mass shootings was a very, very rare occurrence. They will never know what it is like when everyone respected each other’s property and you could sleep at night with your door unlocked and not worry about someone breaking-in. They will never know what it is like when everyone knew they were either a male or a female. They will never know what it is like when there was no confusion over which bathroom one was supposed to go in.

My grandchildren will never know what it is like when marriage was only between a man and a woman. They will never know what it is like when there was a national conscience that revered the sanctity of life and politicians and abortion advocates didn’t stand up and applaud because they can kill a baby. They will never know what it is like to actually see a two-party system work and witness both sides sitting down and coming to workable solutions to problems that plague society. They will never know what it is like when everyone knew their neighbor. They will never know what it is like when capitalism, not failed socialism, was touted as the best economic system. They will never know what it is like for all people to proudly stand for the National Anthem without having to stomach someone protesting that for which the flag stands. They will never know what is like for patriotism to be embraced and a reverence for God understood, instead of now patriotism being shunned and godless secularism embraced.

Now those are just a few of the spiritual and moral characteristics of the America in which I grew up, and it is an America my grandchildren will never experience. No, it has not always been like it is today. There was once a more kind, gentler, decent, safer, law-abiding, God-fearing  and patriotic America that existed. That is no more. Sadly, America today is no longer being influenced by the moral and spiritual qualities that made her great, but instead today she is being influenced  by secularism, atheism, socialism, ecumenism, and those who tout anti-Americanism.

You see, we thought it wise to abolish prayer and remove the morality of the Bible from our schools. We thought it wise to rip the Ten Commandments from the schoolhouse walls. We thought it wise to declare killing babies is ok. We thought it wise to label morality relative and God an afterthought. We thought it wise to redefine traditional marriage. We though it wise to embrace gender fluidity. We thought it wise to say it is ok to trample the flag and label patriotism offensive. We thought it wise to shake our fist in the face of a holy God and say, “We don’t need you, we can make our own morals and do as we please and get along just fine.” And we are clearly reaping the myriad of consequence from declaring ourselves to be wise in our own eyes apart from God, and in the process have become as fools (Romans 1:22).

Yes, I am fearful for my grandchildren who will never know the greatness that once marked this great land as a result of the moral and spiritual foundation upon which it was built. That foundation has crumbled badly and as a result, unless a spiritual and moral awakening sweep across this land, the young people of America today will only know her as she goes through the death rattles.

God have mercy upon America.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

DIVING INTO THE DEEP WATERS OF DIVINE ELECTION

For some time I have desired to pen a blog of my understanding of Divine Election, but I realize the philosophical and theological implications involved in such an endeavor stirs up a myriad of emotions in people who take opposing views. I realize I am diving into deep, deep waters of God’s eternal ocean, where all who undertake the task must eventually come up for air realizing the ocean is much deeper than one can fathom. One must confess the subject of divine election shines like an unreachable star among the majesty of God’s galaxy of unfathomable wisdom. In attempting to penetrate the boundaries of the truth contained with the inspired Word regarding such a subject one discovers that our finite minds can only go so far before we turn away, finding that we must bow in wonder before the Sovereign of the universe. Like a majestic snow-covered mountain soaring into the heavens, gaze as earthbound man may upon it his eyes can never capture the entire mountain’s glory. Divine Election leaves us in awe as we recognize we can only touch the hem of the garment of such a subject.

It is not my intention to be critical of or critique another’s view of Divine Election, but only articulate my perspective. The position I articulate usually results in Calvinists saying I am too weak on the sovereignty of God and results in Arminianists saying I am too weak on the free will of man. This I know, the Bible teaches both; therefore, I embrace both the total sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man for his free choices. While harmonizing God’s sovereignty and man’s freewill can leave us grasping for words of explanation that don’t yet exist, my perspective of Divine Election involves the interplay of both God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom to choose.

I contend that Divine Election must begin with Jesus Christ, who is the Electing God and the Elected Man. Christ is the Predestined One. Karl Barth has succinctly stated, “The Triune God eternally elects, or chooses, in divine freedom, to be for humanity the God of grace and love. Therefore, in Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully man, God is both the elector and the elected…It is the event which God willed from eternity” (Barth, Dogmatics in Outline, 1959, 69).

Christ is the ground and starting point for God’s electing actions. The starting point in divine election is in a Person, in an Act, the Act of the Christ of the Cross. Divine Election is in Christ, and nothing is elected outside of or prior to Him. Outside of Christ there is no election of any individual. God justifies individuals on the grounds of the perfect life, perfect obedience, and perfect sacrifice on the cross of Jesus Christ, foreknown in eternity past. God elects on the grounds of the perfect, atoning work of Christ; it is election based on the Holy Father foreknowing the perfect life and finished work of Christ on the cross.

If the starting point of Divine Election begins with other than Christ then there is a tear in the seam of biblical revelation. Christ is the eternal thread woven into the fabric of divine revelation that binds ALL biblical truth tightly together. As the eternal “Word,” who was with God and was God in the beginning, as the divine Reason and Revelation, there cannot be a higher cause of election than Jesus Christ. If there is a prior cause for election other than Jesus Christ, it would result in one’s election being outside of Christ not in Christ. This is not possible as the Bible says in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The Bible records in Colossians, “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him: and He is before all things and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17).

Since Christ “is before all things,” this means that before a decree to elect, there was/is Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word, the Elect One. And it is “in Him” all things consist, not outside of Him or prior to Him. Nothing was prior to Christ; therefore, Christ being the Chosen One from the beginning means that before any decree of election there stands Jesus Christ towering over eternity, in which nothing or no one was planned or chosen before Him. Isaiah prophesied of the Messiah to come, “Behold my servant, whom I up hold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth. I have put my spirit upon him” (Is. 42:1). The disciples saw in Jesus Christ the fulfillment of the Elect One/Chosen One. Peter says of Jesus that He is the “chief corner stone, elect…” (I Peter 1:6). There is only one Elect Man and that Man is Jesus Christ.

Shifting the focus of Divine Election away from a decree to save only selected individuals to the exclusion of others, onto Jesus Christ being the Elect One/Chosen One, gives validity to the invitation, “Whosoever will may come.” Such an invitation is valid because the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is THE ELECT ONE (Isaiah 42:1; Luke 23:25; I Peter 2:4-6), the Predestined One (I Peter 1:19-20). Divine Sovereignty doesn’t eliminate human freedom to respond to God’s invitation, or else man would be nothing more than a pawn without a choice. Dale Moody has written, “Christ is the Predestined One in his death and resurrection. In his death Christ is both rejected and accepted by God. At the cross he stands as both a rejected sinner and the accepted Son of God. He was rejected because he bore our sins. He was accepted because he knew no sin of his own” (Moody, Word of Truth, 1981, 341). God in His sovereignty has taken the initiative in salvation, but man must respond to the call of conviction and respond in the affirmative in order to be saved.

The election of Christ as the Predestined One is initiated by God; therefore, to Him is due all glory and honor. Christ is the Captain of the elect. And a person whose faith is “in Him” is justified, apart from one’s works or merit, as the result of trusting the ELECT ONE, Jesus Christ. His atonement is sufficient to save all who put their trust in the Elect One, but is only actualized by those who believe. As Paul clearly declares, “The righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe” (Romans 3:22). The Holy Father’s saving purpose is as wide as the world (John 3:16). In Christ we see the purpose and principle of election, the election of ONE for the salvation of those who see their need of a Savior and respond in faith.

Christ in His becoming a man didn’t take the nature of some men and not others, but he took upon Himself the nature that is common to all humanity. He came to earth in the “likeness of men and being found in fashion as a man” (Philippians 2:5-11). In Christ’s work on the cross all humanity was acting in Him. As all are guilty in Adam (Rom. 5:15), now in Christ man has had his legal standing before the Holy Father changed. We enter into what He has done for us by faith in His finished work. Paul proclaimed, “Be It known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him ALL that believe are justified from all things, which ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).

What Christ presented to the Father for His complete satisfaction was perfect obedience on behalf of all humanity. It was not the perfect obedience of a select few but all humanity. He paid the debt of sin, not just for some, but all men. It was a universal holiness Christ lived and a universal paying of man’s debt. Christ presented to God, as man’s Representative, the Elect One, the obedience and holiness owed the Father from all men. When one thinks of what Christ did, he did for humanity as a whole (John 3:16). By being One with us, and the Elect Man, man has been provided a Savior. Christ in a universal holiness and a universal curse, provides a salvation that is offered to all, which our souls enter into by faith. Holiness alone could answer Holiness and only the Holy God can provide for us what we cannot provide for ourselves. The debt of sin must be paid and, again, our Holy God in Christ made payment for us. The answering to God in holiness is owed by all and the debt owed for not complying is owed by all. What love, for in Christ God met both demands on behalf of all.

P.T. Forsyth writes, “The need for satisfaction for God’s wounded holiness can only be met by a personal holiness upon the scale of the human race, upon the universal scale of the sinful race. Anything less would be insufficient. What Christ presented to God on the cross was therefore not the perfect obedience of a saintly unit of the race but a perfect universal obedience.” However, only those who respond in faith to the Elect One is the perfect work of Christ actualized in their life. Paul wrote to Timothy, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. Who gave himself a ransom for all” (I Tim 2:4-6). Of course, not all will be saved for not all will embrace the all-sufficient atoning work of Christ provided on behalf of humanity.

God in His sovereignty has determined the terms of salvation, and only when one responds with faith in the Elect One, Jesus Christ, will salvation be actualized in experience. Herschel Hobbs writes, “So God elected that all who are ‘in Christ’ will be saved. All outside of Christ will be lost. God in his sovereignty set the conditions. Man by his response [appropriates] the results” (Herschel Hobbs, The Axioms of Religion, 1978, 71-72). God’s ground of accepting us is anchored in the electing of Jesus Christ in our place and on our behalf through the Incarnation, the cross and the empty tomb. Christ is the Elector and the Elected One, and by virtue of one’s faith in the Elect One, the Predestined One, they are by the awakening power of the Holy Spirit “baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free” (I Cor. 12:13).

It is realized Classical Calvinism will argue such a perspective of Divine Election as presented limits the sovereignty of God and exalts the free will of man. While harmonizing the two will always remain a mystery, God in His sovereignty in making allowance for the exercise of man’s choices does not weaken God’s sovereignty but in actuality demonstrates His sovereignty. One is truly sovereign who can in their sovereignty make allowances for the exercise of freedom of choice for the sole purpose of demonstrating His total sovereignty in guiding the universe to His own glorious end. God is sovereign in his plan of salvation and His guiding of history, but he does not deny the freedom of man to make his own decisions even to his own eternal destruction.

While it is understood the perspective on Divine Election as I have presented will find disagreement with those who embrace Classical Calvinism, we can agree to disagree. This one truth we can agree on, those who recognized their lostness, repent of their sins and embrace Christ as their Savior are counted among those who are called the elect.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan