Archive for the ‘Meditations’ Category

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Forgive Us as We Forgive…

October 7, 2012

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…

What does this line mean?

We must have a humble heart to both seek forgiveness and forgive. Out of all the petitions listed in this prayer, Jesus focuses on this one in particular. Jesus, immediately after His instruction about how to pray, explains to His disciples in verses 14-15 the following: “For, if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” We are commanded in Scripture to be like God, to be conformed to the image of His Son, to forgive because He forgives, to be holy because He is holy. (Lev. 19:1) We live in a sinful world and we come in contact with sinners everyday. We are sinned against everyday: people steal from us, gossip about us, children disobey their parents, parents mistreat their children. How we deal with those sins against us, reveal a lot about our character and our relationship with Jesus. When you forgive others you are bearing witness that you have experienced for yourself the mercy of God. You are fulfilling the greatest commandment, loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, AND loving your neighbor as yourself. A modified golden rule: Do unto others, what you would have God do unto you.

We are not to take forgiveness for granted. God is interested in forgiving sin, so much so that he sent His only Son to pay the debt that man had and that we have toward God. For “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Through Adam, sin entered into the world and placed us in the position of indebtedness to God. Adam mortgaged our lives for the temporary satisfaction of seeking knowledge and fulfillment outside of God’s commands. For centuries that mortgage accrued interest, and the debt increased. But God in His grace gave Christ as the “propitiation” payment, the satisfaction of that sin debt. “Jesus paid it all” as the song says, and in trusting in that work, God forgives our sins and places that sin, away from us, as far away as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12) We should remember this daily, and be obedient to ask that God continue to forgive us, and remind us to likewise continue to forgive others. If we fail to pray for forgiveness, we fail to acknowledge what God has done for us.

What does this line not mean?

In order to be saved, you must forgive the debts/trespasses of others. This may appear to contradict what is stated above, but this is a key point. You are saved through the blood of Christ, In Christ alone. There is one mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ, He is the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father apart from Him. If one confesses with their mouth and believes in their heart that Jesus is Lord, they will be saved. (Romans 10:9) Forgiveness is part of salvation, as is sanctification, regeneration, redemption etc. However, the forgiveness that we act out toward others, is a by-product of the forgiveness we have experienced. Just as we love others, because God first loved us. (I John 4:19) What this petition is saying is that we are to model for others the forgiveness we ourselves have experienced. If we fail to forgive others, if we are proud and hold onto resentment, then there is very little evidence that the Holy Spirit is in us. For “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness” surely then, it is kind and loving to forgive. “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Gal 5:25) Our forgiveness of others is an evidence for, not the entirety of our salvation.

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How to discern God’s will for your life…

October 3, 2012

How do you discern God’s will for your life?  Of all the questions a believer grapples with, that one is often first and foremost.  It can be difficult to discern God’s will, but thankfully He has given us His word which serves to guide and instruct us as we seek Him and His will.  There is a four word progression that I find helpful to remember when considering what God’s will for my life might be; Wisdom, Wait, Word and Will.  Exercise wisdom, wait on the Lord, obey His word and then discern His will.  Below are several texts that speak to this progression and hopefully illustrate the point.

The 4 W’s

Exercise WISDOM,

WAIT on the WORD,

To discern His WILL

WISDOM: Prov. 2:2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding, 2:10 For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul, James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives to all generously and without reproach and it will be given to him.

WAIT: Psalm 25:3 Indeed none of those who wait for you will be ashamed…25:5 Lead me in your truth and teach me, For you are the God of my salvation, For you I wait all the day long. Isa 40:31 For those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired they will walk and not get weary.

WORD: Ps. 33:6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, Ps 119:105 Your word is a lamp unto my feat and a light unto my path. 2 Tim. 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.

WILL-  Jer. 33:3 call unto me and I will answer you and I will tell you great and mighty things which you do not know. John 9:31 We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does his will, He hears him. Eph 1:9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which he purposed in Him (Christ).

 

Pray and seek after God, and He will make your paths straight.

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The Demeanor of Forgiveness…

October 2, 2012

What should our forgiveness look like?

We should love one another, as Christ loved the church, he was willing to give His life that we might have access to the Father through grace.  Rarely are we called upon to give our lives to make relationships right.  The least we can do is be humble enough to forgive those who have offended us.  Only God can forgive sins. (Mark 2:7)  We are not forgiving their sins, When we forgive we are giving a witness of the Spirit of God that is in us.  We serve a God who is forgiving, and just as we are called to be Holy because He is Holy, we should forgive because he forgave us.  The NT

We should forgive obediently: Matthew 6:14-15

We should forgive from our heart: Matthew 18:35

We should forgive prayerfully: Mark 11:25

We should forgive our persecutors: Luke 23:34

We should forgive to relieve sorrow: 2 Corinthians 2:5

 

Tim Keller on Forgiveness:[1]

“…Forgiveness means refusing to make them pay for what they did.  However to refrain from lashing out at someone when you want to do so will all your being is agony.  It is a form of suffering.  You not only suffer the original loss of happiness, reputation, and opportunity, but now forgo the consolation of inflicting the same on them.  You are absorbing the debt, taking the cost of it completely on yourself instead of taking it out of the other person.  It hurts terribly.  Many people would say it feels like a kind of death. Yes, but it is a death that leads to resurrection instead of the lifelong living death of bitterness and cynicism.”

“Forgiveness means bearing the cost instead of making the wrongdoer do it, so you can reach out in love to seek your enemy’s renewal and change.  Forgiveness means absorbing the debt of the sin yourself.  Everyone who forgives great evil goes through a death into resurrection and experiences nails, blood, sweat and tears.”

“Should it surprise us, then, that when God determined to forgive us rather than punish us for all the ways we have wronged him and one another, that he went to the Cross in the person of Jesus Christ and died there?…On the Cross we see God doing visibly and cosmically what every human being must do to forgive someone, though on an infinitely greater scale…There was a debt to be paid–God himself paid it. There was a penalty to be born–God himself bore it.  Forgiveness is always a form of costly suffering.”


[1] [1] The Reason For God p.188-189, 192-193

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Why should we pray?

September 20, 2012

Over the next several posts we are going to be examining prayer, specifically the Lord’s Prayer as found in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:9-13.

First we will address the reason why we should pray.  Beyond the fact that we are commanded to pray, what should motivate us to engage in prayer:

For our Divine Relationship:

We are created for relationships.  This is evident in every one of our lives.  The fact that you are here listening to me is a key sign that you desire to be in a relationship with other people.  The church is nothing if it is not a community of believers seeking a relationship with God through His son Jesus.  By far the most important relationship you have is the one with your heavenly Father, God.   Just like any relationship you have, your relationship with Him is aided on communication.  He communicates to you through His word, through His Spirit, through his Preachers.  You communicate to Him through worship, worship in song, worship in His Church, and worship through Prayer.

Think of the relationships you have in your life.  How are they affected by communication, especially with the ones you love?  If I told you that I loved my wife, but I also confessed to you that despite the benefits of talking to her and communicating with her, she and I haven’t spoken in day, weeks, perhaps even months.  Despite my insistence that she and I were in love, and that we were in a relationship, how healthy could that relationship be if she and I never communicated?  Consider you relationship with God.  In his word we are told to Pray.  Jeremiah records God’s promise to him in Jeremiah 33:2-3 ” Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish, the Lord is his name, ‘Call unto Me and I will answer you, I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'”  We know that when we call on the Lord our God He hears us, “I Love the Lord,” The Psalmist says, “because he hears my voice, and my supplications (cries for mercy), because he has inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.” (Ps. 116:1-2)

Among First marriages in America Statistics show that some 45-50% of marriages end in Divorce, (www.divrocestatistics.org ) Research done on the causes for divorce reveal, that “Lack of communication is one of the leading causes of divorce. A marriage is on the rocks when the lines of communication fail. You can’t have an effective relationship if either one of you won’t discuss your feelings, can’t talk about your mutual or personal issues, will keep your resentments simmering under wraps, and expect your partner to guess what the whole problem is about.” (http://www.buzzle.com/articles/common-causes-and-reasons-for-divorce.html)

How can you expect your relationship with the Father to flourish if you don’t communicate through prayer?  Are you Strong enough to go through this life on your own?

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You Heard it Here First: The Exclusive Need for the Proclaimed Word…

September 3, 2012

Having previously covered in the prior post some positive affirmations of Christ’s exclusive role as savior and the exclusivity of the Gospel, we shall now turn to two deficits that appear within the inclusivist argument and attempt to show how these deficits are corrected by the claims of exclusivism.

Throughout the biblical narrative are instances of the general revelation of God in creation working in concert with God’s special revelation to His people.  However salvation is seen as coming not from the recognition of God within creation, but rather from deferent faith in light of His revealed mastery of it.  An excellent example of this lies in the first three chapters of the book of Joshua.  Israel, God’s exclusively chosen race, has been delivered from the bonds of Egypt and received the special revelation of His Law, and has arrived at the banks of the Jordan.  As Israel’s spies hid within the home of Rahab the prostitute, Rahab provides an illuminating and ultimately justifying testimony concerning God and His creation. ” I know that the Lord has given you this land…we have heard how the Lord dried up the waters of the Red Sea… as soon as we heard it our hearts melted… for the Lord your God, He is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” (Joshua 2:9-11)  Rahab doesn’t trust in God because he merely created the water, rather she trusts in His revelation displayed in parting the waters for His people.  An act He would perform again in Chapter 3 with the Jordan.  Her confession of this truth, and her corresponding action of hiding the spies displays that God justified her by faith. (James 2:25)  God general revelation in creation becomes special and able to save when God wields His creation in an act of revelation to His people.  The water alone saves none, but belief in He who parts the waters; it is by water and spirit that one is born again. (John 3:5)  The above speaks to effectiveness or lack thereof general revelation, if it is ineffective alone for salvation what is its purpose according to Scripture.

Scripture clearly indicates that the general revelation of God in creation was given to remove excuse from those who would claim ignorance of God absent access to the “gospel.”  A text which is indispensable to this point is Romans 1:19-23

19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Inclusivists attempt to address the issue of the “seeker” outside of the reach of the revealed gospel.  What of the person who would want salvation but can not access it because he/she has no access to the gospel, which exclusivists claim is necessary?  The exclusivist response to this query would be that the natural man rejects God in light of creation rather than seeks Him.  Having received revelation about God’s existence from creation, and rejecting it, they are without excuse before God.  Instead of acknowledging divinity’s true source they exchanged His truth for His creation and thereby inherited a shadow of the Light available to them.  Luther comments on this passage drawing attention to the excuse that some may say that, “only in our time it was possible to know God.”  One could add  ‘place’ to the listed restriction of time.  Whether located in a different time, or a different and perhaps distant place, “it has been possible to know him [God] from the beginning of the world and at all times, and it is possible now.”[1]  So it is clear from this passage that God’s general revelation in creation is meant not for salvation but to act as a witness against those who would claim that His attributes were unperceivable.

The exclusivist argument is not without objection, in conclusion we shall now briefly address two common critiques.

One.  Is it not unjust for God to condemn people merely because they have never heard the gospel of Christ?  Does this not impinge on His mercy?[2]  The answer to the first questions is as follows;  people are not condemned because they have not heard the gospel, rather people are condemned because they are guilty.  This may appear to represent circular reasoning but scripture clearly states that our guilt lies not in what we have done but in who we are as sinner.  All of us have fallen short of God’s glorious standard (Rom 3:23) and each and every one of us is guilty in need of forgiveness from the outset.  Even those who hear the gospel and reject it do so because the natural mind is limited by its sinful condition and does not comprehend spiritual things. (I Cor. 2:14)  That one receives salvation at all is a less a testimony of having heard the word and responded, and more to being a recipient of God’s grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Two.  Are there not examples in scripture of those who received salvation apart from the specific revelation of Christ, and so by extension is that same generic faith, held by some in the world today sufficient to provide salvation?[3]  This argument addresses the idea of “holy pagans” individuals who appear in the Bible as believers but do so without any evidence, within the text,  that they were ever exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  These include: Abel, Noah, Melchizedek, Job, Jethro, Balaam, Naaman the Ninevites and Cornelius.[4]  Scripture provides the key to understanding this mystery.  Acts 4:12 states, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  This axiom was true for the time of Melchizedek, as it was for Paul, and as it is today.  Christ too stated that no one comes to the Father but by Him. (John 14:6)  That these men are listed in scripture as being believers, saved by God, is a testimony that at sometime and at some point, they experienced the special revelation of God unto Salvation.  The revelation may have been in the form of a promise ala Abram or Noah, nonetheless they were responding to a specific promise in faith to a special revelation from Yahweh.  What they displayed was more that a generic faith in an undefined creator God.[5]

That God provides access to Himself is by far the greatest measure of grace extended to His creation.  While His attributes are clearly displayed in the universe, its order and form, beauty and character, His greatest gift is the revelation of His Son.  Those whom he foreknew He predestined to receive this gift, and by it traverse the hurdle of sin and be justified into the transcendence of glory.   Such is the nature of the exclusive revelation of the Gospel.


[1] Luther, Martin. Lectures on Romans. ed. Wilhelm Pauck. (Philadelphia: Westminster Press. 1961.) 23.

[2] Peterson, 15.

[3] Ibid. 15.

[4] Kaiser, Walter. “Holy Pagans: Reality or Myth?” in Faith Comes by Hearing ed. Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson (Downers Grove: IVP. 2008) 123.

[5] Ibid. 141.

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The Necessity of the Word to Salvation: Inclusive vs. Exclusive…

September 2, 2012

 

One of the enduring mysteries of the Christian faith surrounds the nature and rational behind God’s revelation of Himself to His Creation.  “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork,” (Ps. 19:1) and yet God’s action of revelation did not cease with the heavens and the earth.  Nor did God rest solely on the bearers of His image in creation.  God spoke this creation into existence by His Word.  He spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden, issuing commandments from day one, precepts to secure the prosperity of His creatures within His creation to and for His Glory.  When that creation fell, God spoke the words of both judgment and promise.  Pain would come and toil would increase with enmity toward the speaking serpent, but salvation also was declared from the inception of sin.  God continued to speak directly to His creation, revealing callings, covenants, and commandments for His people with an eye toward their salvation and end toward His Glory.  That we know any of these facts in detail is due to their record written in the Word of Holy Scripture.  The testimony is clear that these things were written so that “we may know that we have eternal life.” (I John 5:13) God chose the Word  displayed, spoken, and written as the means of revelation of purpose and glory to those who bear his image.

The issue here in this effort shall be to focus on the extent to which, in light of natures testimony, the scripture is necessary to salvation. Due to the immediacy of spoken and written word, the objection has often been made; How can souls be saved who never hear?  In accordance with God’s declared will that none should perish but all should have eternal life, has He not engineered creation to speak of not only His glory but also His salvation?  We are told that there is no place where natures voice, “day to day pouring out speech,” is not heard.  The stars, planets, streams and mountains cry out “His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature,”  If creation speaks it speaks of God; what it says and to what extent its testimony is effective for salvation shall be our focus here.  We shall examine the two most prominent positions on the issue:  The inclusive position which appeals to the efficacy and need of “general” revelation for salvation vs. the exclusivist position which holds to the necessity of special revelation to a chosen people for the purpose of salvation.  We shall attempt to address how each position differs in form and purpose, and to what end each works consistently within God’s plan of redemption.  It shall be our position that; while creation declares His Glory, it is His word and His word alone which must be received for Salvation.  The belief must be affirmed that Jesus alone is the way to the Father, and that no other road, path, or revelation exists by which one may be saved.  While the word is implanted within our conscious and witnessed in creation, it still must be received with meekness, for it and it alone is able to save men’s souls. (James 1:21)

POSITIONS

INCLUSIVISM

God sent His son so that those who believe in Him should not perish but should have eternal life.(John 3:16)  The gift of His son came as a result of His love for the entire world.  Would God love the world, send His son for that world, provide salvation for those who believe and not give that same world, in its entirety, the opportunity to believe?  This question frames the problem Inclusivism attempt to address.     That God has prescribed a method for salvation is not up for debate among ‘inclusivists.’  The question, rather, is absent access to that method, can salvation occur?  Inclusivism is an attempt to address the issue of the un-evangelized, those who will never hear.

When one considers further the nature of salvation one is instinctively drawn to the apparent hurdles that exist in its path.  There is the immeasurable gulf of sin that has separated man from God since the fall; and the effect of that sin on the human mind, both in terms of comprehension and the will to listen.  There is the issue of access to the message by which one is saved.  If it is God’s desire that all be saved, has he not provided the means for salvation to all, regardless of location or access to the gospel?  Not surprisingly, believers and non-believers approach these questions differently, and reach diverse conclusions often from the same texts.  Even within the Christian community opinions as to these questions differ.  Inclusivism agrees that “Jesus is the only way to salvation,” only “one does not have to believe the Gospel to be saved.”[1]  They simultaneously affirm Jesus’ claim to exclusive access to the Father, but solve the dilemma eluded to above by allowing multiple and even “extra-biblical” routes to Jesus.

On the conservative side of this spectrum there are inclusivists who claim general revelation in addition to special is salvific.  Broader definitions of salvific intent can be found on the liberal side, which can and has affirmed, in addition to general and special revelation, the ability of other religions to lead to the one God able to save.[2]

Scripturally Inclusivists point to certain key texts to bolster their case for broad salvation.  First and foremost are God’s declarations of “universal love” for the world.  John 3:16-17 provide a fitting example of God’s intent; God loved the world, he gave his son that those who believe in Him shall not perish.  According to verse 17, God did not send the revelation of his son to Judge the world, but that the world would be saved through Him.

Psalm 19, a psalm of David which begins by extolling the act of creation as it bears witness to its maker God.[3]  Key to their understanding of this psalm as it relates to the efficacy of general revelation is verses 2 through 4; Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.  There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.  Their measuring line goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. [4]

These heavens and sky are said to be revealing knowledge, and that knowledge proceeds throughout the entire creation, “to the ends of the world.”  Inclusivists claim that in accordance with God’s mercy and His love he provides a “witness in creation and providence that God uses for human good.”[5]  This witness is echoed in Psalm 8 in which David declares that the works of God in the heavens and throughout the earth makes His name majestic “in all the earth.” (Psalm 8:9)  Jesus seems to allude to such a witness in Luke 19:40.  When approaching Jerusalem, the crowd began to proclaim His Lordship as they did the Pharisees demanded Jesus rebuke them and he replied, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Any attempt to limit general revelation to merely a means of rudimentary knowledge or a testimony to render one without excuse and thereby eliminate the defense of ignorance, is flatly rejected by inclusivism.  General revelation is on par with scripture in its ability to provide saving knowledge and both testify of the saving love of one God.  “saying that the God known through creation condemns while the God known through the Bible saves, sounds as though there are two Gods– one damning, one saving. There is one God [however] whose Holy Spirit is actively seeking the lost wherever they may be.”[6]  Greater than the apparent proclamations of the Gospel’s necessity to save, God’s love seeks to save those who are lost regardless of their access.

EXCLUSIVISM

In contrast to inclusivism, those who subscribe to a belief in the exclusivity of the Gospel and salvation see the questions surrounding these topics as present but not particularly troublesome in light of scripture.  God’s method of salvation is exclusive in terms of means as well as in terms of scope.  Exclusivists claim that God created the world and is displayed throughout that creation.  That He loved the world, and sacrificed His Son for the world. They differ however in the method and means by which one obtains salvation.  They would agree that, “scripture nowhere indicates that people can know the gospel, or know the way of salvation, through such general revelation.”[7]  Jesus alone is the way to the Father, unto salvation.  Therefore knowledge of Jesus, and belief in Him, even confession of Him as Lord is essential for Salvation.

Scripture correspondingly proclaims that there is a particular method of revelation, designed by God, that leads to salvation.  Romans 10:9-15 demonstrates this in typical Pauline directness.  There is an individual task for personal salvation but that task is in response to a particular subject and specific method of revelation:

9because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heartthat God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek;for the same Lord is Lord of all,bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

4How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hearwithout someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Those who would believe, must first hear; and those who hear, to be saved, must confess; moreover they must confess Jesus Christ as Lord.  These components of God’s plan of salvation do not seem up for debate according to scripture.  “God has prescribed the way of salvation which is faith in Jesus Christ in special revelation ordinarily through the hearing of the gospel message through a human messenger in this life.”[8]   Scripture affirms that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)  Furthermore, Jesus while on earth, proclaimed the exclusivity of God’s salvation in that “I am the way the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

God’s salvation is not only exclusive in terms of means, but also in scope. God, through special revelation, by his eternal will, has revealed himself to a select group alone.  That this is the case is not troublesome for those who subscribe to an exclusivist position.  Rather God’s special revelation to some and not all is demonstrated and defended throughout the entirety of scripture.  God chose one man to form a nation, one people out of many.  They were to worship one God, and by Him be saved.  God sent one son, a shepherd to a particular ‘special’ flock.  God said of Israel, “you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God.” (Ezekiel 34:31)  Jesus proclaimed that “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)  These passages stand in start contrast to the idea of universal access to Christ apart from His revealed ordained will in His Word.

Further proof of the differentiation between those who simply know of Him and those who have received revealed knowledge of Him unto salvation, is found in Matthew 7.  This text attests that mere knowledge of God from whatever the source is not adequate for salvation.  There will be those who will come to Christ on the last day and claim to have known Him and acted in His name; but it will be made clear that while they had a ‘general knowledge’ of God and even Christ, Jesus will be right in saying depart from me for I never knew you.  (Matthew 7:23)  We maintain that while general revelation and special revelation work in concert to proclaim God’s glory and testify to His existence; the special revelation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Holy Scriptures and the preaching of the same, is the divinely chosen exclusive method that God has ordained to effect salvation among the lost.

In the next post we shall focus on the scriptural support for this position.


[1] Peterson, Robert A. and Christopher Morgan ed. Faith Comes by Hearing. (Downers Grove: InterVaristy Press. 2008.) 12.

[2] Catholic Scholar Hans Kung demonstrates this in “The World Religions in God’s plan of Salvation,” in Christianity Revelation and World Religions, ed. Josef Neuner (London: Burn and Oates, 1965.)  Stating “Since God Seriously and effectively wills that all men to be saved…A man is to be saved within the religion made available to him in his historic situation.”

[3] “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1

[4] Emphasis mine.

[5] Pinnock, Clark, “An Inclusivist View” in Faith Comes by Hearing, ed. Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson (45)

[6] Sanders, John cited in Faith Comes by Hearing.46.

[7] Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: an Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. 1994) 123.

[8] Strange, Daniel. “General Revelation Sufficient or insufficient.” In Faith Comes by Hearing. 54.

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Casting upon a Caring God…

August 27, 2012

1 Peter is one of my favorite books in the Bible, so rich and so full of powerful applicable theology.

One of the most powerful verses or sets of verses in the book come as Peter is concluding his letter to the elect exiles in Pontus, Galatia, Capadoccia and Bythinia, Chapter 5:6-7.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your cares upon Him because He cares for you.”

Believers must humble themselves under God’s might hand, regardless of how that hand is made manifest.  They might experience that hand in judgment through persecution, or deliverance through protection.  Regardless of how His hand is experienced, the believers response is one of humility.  They accomplish this act of humility by casting their anxieties on God.  Peter has provided the reader with the “what” (humility), and the “how” (casting), but now he moves in short order to provide the “why.”  Believers approach God and rely on Him because He cares for them.  This simple profound truth animates the entire text of 1 Peter, indeed it is seen through out the scriptures.  This type of care is seen in the gospel of John 10:13; where Jesus tells of the hired hand that abandons the sheep because he does not care for them.  In contrast, the shepherd would leave the flock to pursue even one lost sheep.  This caring and concern is in view in this passage.

God cares for His people from beginning to end, throughout all circumstances.  We do not rely on an unsympathetic God, or one who is distant or emotionally uninvolved.  No, Peter systematically displays the myriad of ways in which God cares for His people.   Listing them below grants us the ability to grasp the scope of Peter’s depiction of God’s manifold care for His people:

-1:3 God has caused us to be born again to a new hope.

-1:4 God has given us an inheritance

-1:5 God guards us

-1:9 God grants us the salvation of our souls

-1:18 God ransoms us from futile ways

-2:5 God Builds us up

-2:8-9 God calls us out of darkness and into marvelous light

-2:10 God makes us His people and gives us mercy

-2:21 Christ suffered for us, providing us an example

-4:11, 13 God allows us to take part in the glory of Christ

-5:4 God will give us an unfading crown of glory

-5:7 God cares for us

-5:10 God will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us.

In the face of this litany, Peter asks his readers to cast their anxieties on God; this is an ultimate act of humility.  We are to be humble because God cares for us.  We are to display our humility by casting our anxieties on Him.  These truths form the essence of 1 Peter.