Thursday, May 23, 2013

U in TULIP




THE U IN TULIP
           
U stands for unconditional election.  The idea is that God has chosen individuals for salvation from before creation, and that He has chosen all others for condemnation, based on His choice, not our choice.  There is some basis for this argument in scripture, because several statements speak of God’s foreknowledge and plans from the beginning.  The apostle Paul wrote of God’s predestination of the elect both to the Romans and to those at Ephesus. 
           
Rom 8:28-33 - “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
           
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  Who shall bring a charge against God's elect?  It is God who justifies.”  (NKJ)
           
Eph 1:3-6 - “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.  (NKJ)
           
God surely planned to save those whom He intends to save, and He knows the future.  God knows who will be saved, and who will be lost.  But God gave us a role to play in the eternal outcome of our lives.  God has hope that we will come to Him and have everlasting life.  He is not willing that any should perish.  When God hopes for something, it is evident that someone else’s will is involved, because God is able to work all things according to His will.  But when He created us, He gave us free will and made us subject to sin.  God is willing for us to make the choice for life or for death.  He wants only those who make the free will choice for life as His children.  The creation was for this purpose only, for the revealing of the children of God.
           
As Paul said in Rom 8:18-21 - “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (NKJ)
           
As we study the scriptures in their completeness, it becomes apparent that God planned to save all who believe in Jesus Christ, understanding that belief come from a free will examination of the facts about Jesus.  Jesus extends an invitation to whoever desires to come - Rev 22:16-19 - "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star."  And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”
           
“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”  (NKJ)
           
This article written for the NJP illustrates how we are made in the image of God, and able to come to Him for eternal life.  The most remarkable thing about Jesus was His complete devotion to doing his Father’s will.  We need to be devoted like that.

IN HIS IMAGE
           
God made mankind in His own image, and gave us dominion over His creation. (Genesis 1:26-27)  He made man a living being, and gave him the tree of life so that he could live forever.  (Genesis 2:9, 3:22) 
           
But Adam and Eve rejected eternal life and chose death along with the right to do their own thing.  And so death passed to mankind, because we all have sinned and chosen to rebel against God sometime in our life.  (Romans 3:23)
           
So Jesus came to live a perfect life and show us what it means to be made in the image of God.  Jesus perfectly demonstrated the likeness of God in His human life.  When we look at the life of Jesus, we see the life that God wants us to live.  Jesus is our example, and He makes it possible for us to realize what God created us to be. 
           
Jesus' life is remarkable in how He totally dedicated Himself to doing his Father's will.  Although He was God, He left heaven, took the form of a servant, and humbled Himself by dying the agonizing death on the cross.  (Philippians 2:5-11)  He despised the shame of the cross because of His interest in bringing mankind to eternal glory, so that we could truly be in the image of God.  (Hebrews 2:9-12, 12:2)
           
Paul said that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.  (1 Corinthians 15:50) 
           
Jesus said that a man must be born again of water and the Spirit in order to enter the Kingdom.  (John 3:3-7)
           
Again Paul said Christians have a responsibility to live our lives for Jesus who died for us, no longer living for ourselves.  (2 Corinthians 5:15)
           
To be Christlike means to dedicate our lives in service to God and to mankind.  If we are in Christ, we are a new creation in the image of God.  Old things have passed away and all things have become new.  ----  "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."  (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21  NKJ)
           
We can be like Jesus in this life by submitting our will to the will of God as Jesus did, and by accepting the salvation that is in Jesus Christ.  God calls us by His gospel, the message of Jesus Christ, to come to Him in faith and to be born again through obedience to the message of God, being made complete in Jesus.  (Colossians 2:8-13)  Jesus gives eternal life to all who obey Him.  (Hebrews 5:9)  But He will destroy those who refuse to obey the gospel.  (2 Thessalonians 1:8)  Therefore we make the choice whether to be born again into God's family and have eternal life, or to reject God and suffer eternal damnation. 
           
To be in the image of God means to be in Jesus Christ, who is the exact likeness of God the Father.  (Colossians 1:15-23)  This is possible because God loved us and made us in the beginning to be His children.  Although we have rejected His love and been separated from Him by sin, He is able to cleanse us and bring us back into His glorious presence.  "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  (John 3:16, NKJ)

            Obeying the gospel is a Bible concept that the followers of TULIP seemingly never use.  Instead of saying we must obey the gospel, they say that we must confess that we are sinners and accept Christ as our personal savior by praying the sinner’s prayer.  But the Bible says in several places that individuals are responsible for faith and obedience.  Following is another of my articles that illustrates how we become Christians. 

OBEDIENCE
           
A pillar of salt standing in the great rift valley south of the Dead Sea was all that remained of Lot's wife. She had failed to honor God and disobeyed His specific command.  She looked back to Sodom, a place so wicked that the men of the city had surrounded Lot's house earlier and demanded to have homosexual relations with his two visitors.  God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of the great wickedness of their people, and Lot's wife received the reward of disobedience which is destruction. (See Genesis 19)
           
Many generations before, a man named Noah was saved with his family when the world was destroyed with water.  Noah obeyed God because he believed and honored Him. 
           
Noah and his family worked for 120 years while the neighbors wondered.  What was this huge thing built of gopher wood, four hundred fifty feet long, seventy five feet wide, and forty five feet high?  Noah pleaded with them to repent and believe in God, but none outside his own family listened.  They were destroyed because of unbelief.  But Noah and his family were saved by God's grace through their faith and obedience. (Genesis 6-8)
           
Abraham's devotion to God was tested when God ordered Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice.  Abraham believed in God so much that he was willing to offer his son, trusting that God could even raise Isaac from death.  Abraham's faith was counted for righteousness because he obeyed God. (James 2:14-26) 
           
The bible contains many examples of the importance of obedience and how it is a required demonstration of faith in God.  While we are unable to be perfected by our obedience because of our sins, yet God requires submission of our will to Him.  He requires simple acts of obedience motivated by faith in God and acceptance of His grace in Jesus Christ.  Believers must understand these simple acts of submission to God's will and be willing to obey if they are to be justified by their faith in Jesus Christ.  These requirements are easily understood and only require our submission to the Will of God in order to be accomplished.
           
Jesus promised that "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." (Matthew 7:21, NKJ)  Jesus says that some who claim to be great miracle workers in His name will be cast out because He never knew them.  He taught that those who build on the firm foundation of faith in Jesus Christ will be saved. (Matthew 7:22-27)
           
Faith in Jesus as the Son of God and obedient trust that causes us to follow the simple commands of Jesus will lead us to eternal life.  Jesus commanded repentance which involves a change of direction in our lives.  We must be willing to turn away from doing our own thing according to our own will, and be willing to follow Jesus.  Repentance is a choice of our own mind which is prompted by our faith in Jesus.  Repentance is necessary.  (See Luke 13:3,5; Acts 2:38)
           
Jesus also requires a commitment from us to express our faith in Him openly before other people.  We cannot be secret Christians and be pleasing to Jesus.  Jesus said, "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 10:32)
           
Baptism is also a simple command of Jesus which is a demonstration of our trust in the death of Jesus and His resurrection.  Paul explained it this way to the Roman Christians, "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just  as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4, NKJ)
           
Having obeyed these simple commands of Jesus, we know that God adds us to the body of Christ and that we have become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:38-47)  As children of God we are commanded to follow Jesus, to love God and keep His commandments, to love each other, and to trust God for continued cleansing from sin.  (1 John 1:9) 

Our attitude toward God will determine where we spend eternity.  Attitude is something everyone has, and it can be good or bad.  While our attitude will not save us, it is necessary to have an attitude of trusting God for salvation if we are to have hope for eternity.  An attitude of trusting Jesus and of being loyal to Him are decisions we make with our human mind.  God does not force us to change our attitude from trusting the things of this world to trusting Him, but through the example of Jesus Christ, He teaches us to have the right attitude.  The following article will give some light on the importance of obedience.

TRUSTING GOD
           
Pilots adjust their airplane's flight attitude so that the plane will fly most efficiently.  Thus attitude may describe the direction in which we tilt; the way that we approach life.
           
People are called pessimistic or optimistic; describing our negative or positive approach to life.  So attitude may describe our mindset; our tendency to approach problems either negatively or positively. 
           
Everyone has an attitude, and many of us have attitude problems.  We need to have our approach to life adjusted so that we can travel more efficiently. 
           
Cain, first born son of Adam and Eve, had an attitude problem.  He thought that he should be able to do things his own way without recognizing God's supreme power.  Because of his rebellion, he became an outcast and the father of an evil race of people who were all destroyed in the flood. (Genesis 6)
           
Saul, first king of Israel, had an attitude of doing things his own way rather than respecting the commandments of God.  First he offered sacrifices which were the responsibility of Samuel, God's anointed High Priest.  Next he chose to partially obey God's command to destroy the Amalekites. 
           
Then Samuel said to Saul, "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being King." (1 Samuel 15:22-23)
           
So David was made king in Saul's place.  David had a good attitude, and trusted God for protection and salvation all of his life.  Although David made terrible mistakes, he always repented and turned to God for deliverance. 
           
David composed the words of this song: "The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in Him I will trust, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence.  I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies." (2 Samuel 22:2-4, NKJ)
           
We need an attitude like David, and like Jesus who trusted His Father completely.  Peter described it this way: "For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently?  But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.  For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: "Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth"; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness-- by whose stripes you were healed." (1 Peter 2:20-24, NKJ)
           
Paul expresses a powerful attitude of trust in his letter to the Philippians:  "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.  But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."  (Chapter 3:7-11, NKJ)
           
Like Paul, we need the attitude of trusting God for salvation.  God's power will never fail us, and He is able to get us through this life.

God calls everyone to come to Him for salvation.  Jesus died for the sins of all mankind.  God loves us so much that He gave Jesus to die on the cross so that whoever desires to may believe and have life in Jesus.  Yet not everyone will be saved, because salvation is conditional upon our choice to believe or disbelieve, based on the evidence given by Jesus Christ and the Bible.  We will be talking about faith as a gift of God in a later section, but the scriptures are clear in teaching that faith is the result of evidence God has revealed about Himself, especially through the gospel of Jesus the Christ.  As Paul said to the Romans, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  The following article shows how God has chosen us through our obedience to the gospel. 

CALLED  OF  GOD?
           
Recently I visited a friend I have known for fifty years, and he is now more than eighty years old.  Many times I have talked with him about following Jesus, and he told me several times that he was not ready yet. 
           
Again I talked with him about Jesus, and asked if he believed that Jesus is the Son of God. 
           
“I guess so,” he replied.  And then he changed the subject. 
           
Later in the conversation I said that I would feel bad if he died unsaved.  “They way I see it,” he said, “it would not be your fault.”
           
What about someone who sort of believes in Jesus, but is perhaps not completely convinced?  What is his hope?  The only hope he has, according to the Bible, is to believe in Jesus as the Son of God, and put his trust in Jesus for salvation.  (Hebrews 11:6)
           
Paul said that faith in God comes from hearing God’s word. (Romans 10:17)  He also said that God chose the foolishness (from the human view) of preaching to save those who believe.  (1 Cor 1:18-25)
           
The message to be preached and heard and believed is the gospel, the glorious message of God’s love that makes salvation available to everyone who believes in Him and is willing to follow Jesus.  Paul said he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, “For it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” (Rom 1:16)
           
God has called everyone who is willing to come to Him in faith and be saved by the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.  In the words of Jesus, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28, NKJ)
           
As Jesus told Nicodemus, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up (the crucifixion, rg), that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
           
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”
           
"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:14-18, NKJ)
           
God is calling everyone to faith and obedience through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  If you do not know the gospel, then read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John from the Bible.  At the end of the gospel of Mark, Jesus gives the marching orders to His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16, NKJ)
           
So we see that everyone is called by the gospel to have faith in Jesus as the Christ (anointed), the Son of God.  But some are not sure they believe the gospel.  And some are waiting for a sign from God to convince them they are chosen for salvation. 
           
By believing in Jesus is how we are chosen, and the gospel is God calling us for salvation.  If the message of Jesus dying on the cross will not touch one’s heart and let him or her see the love of God, then that person will stand condemned before Jesus in the great day of judgment.  Jesus is coming back to judge everyone.  (Acts 17:31)
           
As Paul told the Thessalonians, “---- to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
           
These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.” (2 Thes 1:7-10, NKJ)   (end of article)

The Bible teaches that our calling is through a message preached, the gospel of Christ.  And it also teaches that our faith is a matter of choice, producing blessings to those who believe and curses upon those who choose not to believe.  Jesus said that we should preach the gospel to everyone, and those that believe will be saved, and those who do not believe will be condemned.  That would be strange language to use if the choice has already been determined by God in the beginning of time.  God calls us to be His children through the gospel.  It is a call that is conditional upon our faith and obedience.  This article looks at the concept.

UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION?
           
Abraham was chosen by God to become father of the faithful.  Abraham’s faith was developed through years of walking with God and seeing demonstrations of God’s power.  Then God worked with Abraham until his faith became strong enough to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. 
           
The apostle Paul was chosen by Jesus to be the apostle to the nations of Asia and Europe.  Paul’s faith was developed by the struggles he faced and by God delivering him from the stoning at Lystra.  Finally Paul could say:  “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, ----- who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light :through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.”
           
“For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”  (2 Tim 1:8-12, NKJ)
           
Paul warned Timothy to: “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim 1:13NKJ)  Again he wrote - “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.  This is a faithful saying: for if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.  If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, he also will deny us.  If we are faithless, he remains faithful; he cannot deny Himself.”  (2 Tim 2:10-13, NKJ)
           
God is faithful, and He will keep His promises.  But he has promised salvation not only to a select few, but rather to all who come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ, and who are faithful to him when they die.  The conditions of election are faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and faithfulness to Him in our lives.  God has elected to save all who believe in Jesus and are willing to follow Him. 
           
God has chosen to save those who endure temptation and who love God:  “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  (James 1:12, NKJ)  Those who love God keep His commandments.  (1 John 5:3)
           
God has chosen those who are faithful to Him at death to receive salvation.  "Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”   (Rev 2:10, NKJ)

God has chosen to save those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life: “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.” (Rev 21:27, NKJ) But names can be blotted out of the Book of Life - “and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Rev 22:19, NKJ)
      
Jesus brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.  The gospel is God’s power to salvation for everyone who believes.  God has promised that He will save all who come to Him through believing the gospel message and following Jesus faithfully.  It is the message of the gospel that elects us for eternal salvation when we are willing to believe it. 

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