Sunday, December 31

See Jazzy at the Bluecollar Blog

Jazzycat has been honored by becoming a team member at the Bluecollar Blog. Go there to read the latest Jazzycat post on the "effectual calling of Jazzycat's servant W.H."

Tuesday, December 26

Grace is living water!

John 7:38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'
Near Glenwood Springs, Colorado torrents of water flow out of the side of a mountain as the above photo shows. This is an illustration of John 7:38 where Jesus says that rivers of living water will flow out of the hearts of the redeemed. He is referring to the fruit that flows from grace and he does not say ‘some’ or ‘most’ will show this fruit. The ‘whoever believes in me’ means all that believe will show this fruit that flows from grace like living water.

Grace, how sweet the sound! Grace is more than a mere offer of spiritual salvation that man chooses apart from God, and it is more than a one-time acceptance of this offer by “simple” faith. Grace secures salvation for lost sinners who have no hope apart from this grace. Grace is powerful and changes people through the work of the Holy Spirit by replacing their heart of stone and giving them a new heart of flesh. This grace does not wait on a human decision because that would never come from humans that are all born spiritually dead. This is why Jesus said that you must be born again. You must be born spiritually to even see the kingdom of God. This grace regenerates and quickens a sinner by giving them spiritual birth, which enables a willing response. The sinners so enabled gladly and thankfully respond in faith and repentance to saving grace. With a new attitude and new desires, redeemed sinners have new goals and desire different activities than before their re-birth. Such things as prayer, Bible study, worship, fellowship, and love toward others are all part of the new Christian’s life and they all flow from grace. Jesus called this grace living water and it enables and motivates believers to produce good works that God planned that they should do. Grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone is what saves sinners and everything including the faith to believe comes from God. While some deny this power of grace and claim that a simple passive claim of faith without any repentance, change of heart or behavior is a saving faith, the Bible over and over again describes a grace that is life changing and like living water. This is not an addition of works or deeds to justification by faith alone. It is simply an affirmation that the grace of God saves people from their sins and does not leave them unchanged to wallow in their sins. Grace will fill them to overflowing with living water. The following list is a some of the characteristics of grace with supporting Scripture passages.

Grace is applied by God and is not a decision made by man apart from God.
Romans 9:15-16 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
Also…. John 1:13, Eph. 2:5

Grace secures spiritual salvation for men by changing them from the inside.
Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
John 3:3 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Grace results in a new person.
2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Grace is powerful.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
Also…. Matthew 3:11, Hebrews 1:3, 2 Peter 1:3, 1 Thess. 1:5

Grace sanctifies through the Holy Spirit.
1 Peter 1:2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
Also…. John 17:17, 2 Thess. 2:13

Grace gives the gift of faith.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
Also….. 2 Peter 1:1, Eph. 2:5

Grace gives the gift of repentance.
2 Timothy 2:25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth,
Also Acts 5:31, Acts 11:18,

Grace is 100% effective.
John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
Also..... John 6:39

Grace is applied by God.
John 6:65 And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
Also…. , Eph. 1:3-6, Romans 8:29-30, Romans 9:6-13

Grace makes spiritually dead people alive.
Eph. 2:4-5 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
Also…… John 3:3

Grace chooses and calls out of darkness.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Also…. Eph. 1:4, 2 Thess. 2:13, 1 Thess. 4:7, Acts 2:39,

Grace gives eternal security by not losing any of those redeemed.
John 6:39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.
Also… Romans 8:29-30, Romans 8:38-39

Grace enables good works.
Eph. 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Also..... Galatians 5:21-24, Romans 8:1-17

Monday, December 25

Grace and Truth

On the river at Natchitoches, LA (DEC 06)
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

What does the Bible say about grace? What is grace? Is it more than an offer? Is it just a get out of hell free card that simple faith takes hold of? Does grace change a person? Does it continue past a moment of salvation? We will look at these things in a day or so and we will find that deep complicated discussions of what greek words mean are not needed to glean these truths from the Bible.

Monday, December 18

Faith has Action....

Many students in colleges and universities profess and claim they are going to work and study hard to achieve their degree. However, many fail to actually do what they claim and flunk out. Paul tells us in Titus that some profess to know God, BUT……
Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

It is clear that Paul is linking how people behave or act to what they say. It is very close to what James says in James 2:14 (What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?). Paul is talking about people professing faith and James is talking about people saying they have faith. This is the same thing, and Paul and James also give the same bottom line. Paul says that their lack of works are a denial that they know God and James asks rhetorically is that kind of faith any good for salvation. They are not talking about a temporal salvation. They are talking about a faith that secures a spiritual salvation of eternal life. Paul and James are both affirming that this kind of faith is not implemented by claiming and professing, but by action. Sincere faith that saves will motivate a person to a response of action and works. This is action is not motivated to earn justification, but rather flows from the grace that brought about the justification. For example, a student in a college like the one shown in the photo above does not succeed by claiming and professing to his parents that he is going to study and apply himself to the work at hand. He succeeds in his course work by actually studying and working hard. When the semester grades are posted, it will be evident if the student has actually done the required study and work or if his claims and professions were worthless. It is the same with the faith that secures salvation. Saying, claiming, and professing faith does not save, but possessing faith will save and will result in works that were prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Therefore, do not kid yourself into believing teachers that say faith has no action (Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.).

Tuesday, December 12

Everything good is from above

1 Cor. 4:7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
From where did you receive your free will? There are some who believe that the free will that humans possess is independent of any and all causes. However, this is not true at all. The will in the human being can be traced to the brain. The workings of the brain can be categorized into things such as the conscience, the heart, the emotions, and such. We routinely trace all kinds of human attributes to genetics and ultimately back to God as the creator of the universe. Why is the will of human beings any different? The answer of course is that it is not any different. The will like all natural gifts such as athletic ability, intelligence, etc. are all from God. The Bible is clear in many places that this is fact. Paul in 1 Cor. 4:7 shown above asks three questions and the answers are simple and clear. The answer to question one is God, to question two is nothing, and to question three is pride.
Conclusion: Everything a human being has, including his will, can be traced to God. When a person says that they are so glad that they made this or that decision, they should thank God for the gift of their will that made the decision. For some reason people, that have no problem thanking God and giving him credit for all kinds of talents, think their decision-making ability is of their own creation. However, while human beings have a free will, every good decision that they make can be traced back to God. James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. For those that claim that their free will made the crucial and final decision in coming to faith in Jesus Christ, they should consider from whence their will came from. Salvation through grace alone by faith alone is from God any way you want to look at it.

Friday, December 8

Safely home

A lighthouse brings ships safely home and Jesus brings sinners safely home.
2 Timothy 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Not only does a lighthouse warn ships of danger, it also points the way for them to arrive safely home. What a joy it must be for the captain of a ship, on a dark, overcast, rainy night, to see a familiar light from a lighthouse to firmly fix his position and enable him to navigate safely into port. In a like manner, it is a joy for a Christian to be brought safely home by the light that entered the world in the person of Jesus Christ… When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). Darkness is a characteristic of this world, and the people who follow the ways and wisdom of this world are blind to the light. They are deceived by the spirit of the age……..The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4). Sinners are blind to the light that entered the world in the person of Jesus Christ and it takes the grace and mercy of God to open their eyes to the marvelous light…. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:13-14). For a person to see the light from a lighthouse, he must have the gift of physical sight which gives him the ability to see light. For a person to see the spiritual light that Jesus Christ brought into the world, he must have spiritual sight. This comes from God and this is what Jesus meant in Matthew 11:5 when he said the ‘blind receive sight .’ This is grace and in grace God provides the lighthouse, the light, and the eyes to see the light. Praise God for his intervention into the darkness and his provision of everything needed for salvation. If you have not seen the light, pray that God will give you the eyes to see because he has promised that he will do it.

Monday, December 4

God's Workmanship

God in his providence and workmanship brought a New England fall to Mississippi in 2006 as leaves turned gold, red, and orange instead of the normal brown. God also speaks of his workmanship in Ephesians 2:10.

Eph. 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Paul tells us that we are saved by grace alone by the gift of faith in Eph. 2:8-9. Since the faith to believe is a gift from God this eliminates all boasting by the redeemed. God does everything in salvation as v. 4-5 makes clear. But then we get to verse 10 as shown above. In this verse Paul makes the following points:

(1) The believer is the work of God and not a self made work.
(2) The believer is Created in Christ Jesus.
(3) For a purpose of good works.
(4) God prepared these works.
(5) God did it in advance.
(6) God wants believers to do them.

The question arises are these works that God prepared for us to do something he hopes or desires that believers do or are they something that he has ordained that believers will do. Do good works flow from God’s sovereign powerful work of regeneration or does he withdraw his grace and leave the new believer on his own to produce works by himself. Yet another possibility is that God continues giving grace through the power of the Holy Spirit but it fails to produce any good works in the believer who simply resists the Holy Spirit with a greater power. In other words God’s sanctifying grace fails.

I think the conclusive evidence in verse 10 is shown in point 4 above. God prepared these works. He planned them and accomplishes all that he pleases (Isaiah 46:10). God does have a perceptive will that he allows to be disobeyed, but when God prepares something to be done, that indicates that he has ordained it to be done. That means that verse 10 is speaking of God’s decretive will (1 Thessalonians 4:3) and this will of decree is one hundred per cent successful (Isaiah 14:27). This means that God’s power expressed through his grace and implemented by the Holy Spirit will always result in the good works that God has prepared for a believer to do. They may be great and many or ordinary and few, but God will accomplish all that he has ordained.