Saturday, August 31, 2013
Prayer, Sovereignty, and Salvation
God is in Control: Prayer and Salvation
by Mike Robinson
Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscle of omnipotence (Charles H. Spurgeon.
Faith, and hope, and patience and all the strong, beautiful, vital forces of piety are withered and dead in a prayerless life. The life of the individual believer, his personal salvation, and personal Christian graces have their being, bloom, and fruitage in prayer. (E.M. Bounds).
Prayer has never been a mere option, it is a joyful duty. Prayer is a must for this nation and all its citizens. My prayer is that God will bring many multitudes to know Jesus Christ and serve Him.
Recall the story of Nebuchadnezzer. He had a dream, but he forgot it, so he commanded his impotent sorcerers and astrologers to ascertain what the content of his dream was: They couldn’t do it. Daniel prayed and prayed and God revealed the king’s dream and interpretation to him. Notice the manner in which Daniel praises God: “Daniel answered and said: ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His’” (Daniel 2:20).
• Who removes kings? God.
• Who raises kings? God.
Scripture teaches that God Almighty controls a king’s heart like water.
• God is in control.
The doctrine of God’s Providence was of utmost importance in the birth of the United States of America. All historical events are under God’s providential hand as He acts through human agencies. Laws alone will not change our society. Society will change when hearts change first. By God’s grace only Jesus Christ and His gospel can change people.
On July 4th 1776, The Declaration of Independence proclaimed: “We hold these truths... that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights... Appealing to the supreme judge of the world... and for the support of this declaration, with reliance on the protection of divine providence.”
No matter how much effort makes the life of a man a pleasanter and richer thing, there lives in mankind a sense that all such progress and civilization does not satisfy for the deepest human needs nor rescue them from their worst distress (Herman Bavinck).
Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). Thus, the largest institution on the planet is the church. The kingdom that contains the most citizens is the church. The association with most men is the church of Jesus Christ. Not any one denomination, but the collective body that professes Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in America. A recent Gallup Poll found the percentage of people confessing to be Born-again Christians is 46 percent. That is way up from 33 percent from the early 1990's. That is about 135 million people proclaiming salvation in Jesus Christ as Savior.
Justification: Declared Righteous
Clouds and darkness surround Him: righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne (Psalms 97:2).
Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. … For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him (Romans 5:1-9).
Justification is a doctrinal term. The doctrine is laid out in the books of Romans and 1 Corinthians, among others (Genesis 15; Psalm 32; Galatians; Titus). Justification, as a doctrine, is unique to Christianity. The doctrine of justification holds that the believer is declared righteous, his sins are removed, and Christ’s righteousness is imputed unto him by faith in and the grace of Christ alone. No other religious system has a means by which to erase our record of iniquity and grant us a righteous record, so that we can enter a perfect Heaven. Justification is a legal, forensic term that implies prior condemnation and results in pardon.
The holy God demands a formal, forensic righteousness, not because He is capriciously harsh but because He is completely righteous. God is not arbitrary; He is holy and perfect. Heaven is pristinely perfect and for one to enter within must have all their sins removed and have a perfect righteousness. One must be righteous to live with God in Heaven. Every man has broken God’s holy law; the solution for man’s sin and depravity is a formal, legal justification through Christ by grace through faith.
But to him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness (Romans 4:5).
Most Christians understand that because Christ died on the Cross, their sins are forgiven and rinsed away; this is what is called the negative aspect of justification. Something is subtracted, namely our sins. The positive aspect of justification is usually overlooked by the average modern Christian. The positive element of justification states that God imputes into the believer’s account the righteousness of Christ. Jesus not only died for us; He lived for us. His perfect, holy, and righteous life was given to those who trust in Him. Christians know that Jesus atoned for their sins and disobedience on the Cross, but His work was not merely negative and passive.
During His life of thirty-three years, Jesus lived in perfect accord with God’s law, fulfilling all righteousness on our behalf. Saved believers stand perfectly righteous before the Holy God. They are not just guiltless and sinless, but they are actually declared righteous on account of Christ. All that Jesus did on the earth is imputed into the believer’s account. We are justified before God through the active and passive obedience of Jesus. We are saved by His life and His death; that is good news. Only Christianity can bestow justification. All the world’s additional religions are based upon the religionist’s good deeds and personal merit. The problem is that Heaven is perfect, God is holy, and nothing unholy and unrighteous will enter God’s Heaven. Biblical justification is the only solution to man’s sin and Adam’s disobedience.
The Eternal Blessing of Imputation
And he believed in the LORD; and He accounted it to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6).
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).
For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace (Jeremiah 8:11).
By God’s grace through faith justification forensically renders the believer righteous and gives him peace with Heaven. Without justification, the unbeliever has no peace with God. We must never assert that there is peace when there is no peace between the ungodly and God. Without justification by grace alone, there can be no real peace. “Imputation” is the Biblical term for the positive element of justification. Through God’s grace by faith, the believer is declared righteous.
Christ preached: “Be perfect, even as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). The law demands perfect obedience—a perfection equal to the Father’s perfection. Nobody except Christ has accomplished this, so we need a perfect righteousness that is not our own. We need to be justified by the works and righteousness of another. Justification is a forensic term which speaks of the Christian’s legal position before God. The believer is declared righteous despite his unrighteous deeds. The justified are given an alien righteousness, a righteousness that is not their own but is imputed unto them by faith. Not having a righteousness of our own ensures that God gets all the glory.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men (Titus 3:4-8, italics mine).
As Thomas Boston put it, “We cry down the law when it comes to our justification, but we set it up when it comes to our sanctification. The Law drives us to the Gospel that we are justified, then sends us to the Law again to show us our duty now that we are justified.” Hence, because God has saved us by His mercy, we now strive to maintain good works because we are grateful.
A Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent (C.S. Lewis).
Give Away What You Have Received
He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him (Psalms 126:6).
In 1940 a butterfly collector was in Utah trying to enlarge his collection of bugs. At dusk he returned from his excursion and shared with his companion that he had heard a loud moaning and a cry for help. Someone was calling for assistance down the stream. His friend asked him whether he stopped and looked for the man who was in trouble. He said, “No, I had to get a particular butterfly.” The next morning the corpse of a gold prospector was discovered in what later was named Dead Man’s Gulch. Are we like the indolent butterfly collector? People are all around us, dying in their sins, and we are too busy or too dull to reach out to help. Is your life a spiritual Dead Man’s Gulch or is it a lifesaving station?
I want to care like George Whitefield cared when he pleaded, “Weep out, if possible, every argument, and compel them to cry, ‘Behold, how He loves us.’”
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