Your Moderation

Some of us are wired to be extreme, always looking for boundary conditions, testing and exploring. We want to know our limits, how things work, and why things are the way they are. This can be a good thing, and it can also be problematic.

God tells us to let our moderation be known unto all men (Php 4:5a), relating this to the fact that He’s at hand, close by, imminently revealing Himself. (b) He evidently values stability, precision, an evenness of spirit that’s perfectly under our control, and would have this on constant display in us for all to inspect.

The word moderation is epieikes, also translated gentle (Tit 3:2), and patient (1Ti 3:3); it implies restraint on the passions, general soberness of living, being free from all excesses, fit or suitable, appropriate, mild. Perhaps the reference to the Lord’s ever-presence informs the choice of moderation here.

It’s not that we’re to avoid extremes altogether; indeed, we’re commanded to love God in the extreme (De 6:4) and rebuked for lukewarmness. (Re 3:16) We cannot love God too much, obey Him too well, or be too holy or righteous. (Mt 5:48)

The idea here is likely related to self-control, companied with a proper aim in our behavior. We’re to be constantly tuning the wavelengths of our expression to align perfectly with God in every situation. This is the very definition of being appropriate, and it requires both discipline and holy intention. (Php 3:15-16)

Controlling ourselves apart from a godward focus leads to pride and will-worship (Col 2:23), and a godward focus without self-control is spineless passion. (Pr 25:28) Neither are Christ. (Ep 4:20)

We’re to both approve things that are excellent (Php 1:10) and also master ourselves in pursuing them. (1Co 9:27)

Yet our perception of excellence is incomplete (1Co 8:2), and our aim depends on what we can currently apprehend. (Php 3:13-14) As we pursue our present vision of Christ He reveals more of Himself to us (2Pe 3:18), and then we find that our definition of perfection is refined and we adjust.

Spiritual life is a cycle of moderating ourselves in Christ, for Christ, adding to our faith, being sanctified and transformed into His image. (Ro 8:29)

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Born Again

When Christ explains how to obtain eternal life, He compares it with how we obtain physical life; as we’re conceived and born physically, so we must be conceived and born spiritually. (Jn 3:6-7) Apart from being born of the Spirit we can’t enter into God’s kingdom (5); we can’t even see the kingdom. (3)

To most of us, this sounds like a New Testament concept, something new Christ introduced as part of the current dispensation, unique to Christianity the Age of Grace. The problem with this idea is that Christ expected Nicodemus, a Jew living in the Old Testament era (before Christ’s atoning sacrifice) to already understand this. (10) Christ was telling Nicodemus and all his colleagues they were missing the boat since they weren’t born again. (7) So, being born again isn’t a New Testament principle: it’s timeless. (Re 13:8)

The seed which brings this spiritual life into us is the Word of God (1Pe 1:23), the eternal Word of Truth. (Ja 1:18) We’re born of God Himself as we receive and believe on Christ the Word (Jn 1:12-13), and become new creations in God. (2Co 5:17)

This new creation concept isn’t new at all; it’s woven all through the Old Testament (2Ti 3:15), the idea of having a new heart, a new inner being created by God. (Eze 36:26)

Abraham believes in God and is justified by faith (Ro 4:3), a faith that rests in God’s future provision of a divine sacrifice to atone for his sin. (Jn 8:56) We’re saved the same way. (Ro 4:23-25)

David prays for this clean, new heart (Ps 51:10), the kind of heart that hears, perceives and obeys God (De 29:4), and ultimately receives this gift of God. (Ps 21:1-2) We’re no different, believing God is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. (He 11:6)

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Carried by Angels

The Bible describes what occurs as we die, and there’s no hint that it’s going to be different for anyone, same for all of us: angels appear and carry us away to our eternal home. (Lk 16:22-23)

Yes, as we speak, angelic beings are evidently escorting eternal souls departing this world, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Da 12:2) Some are soaring through the celestial wonders of the universe (Ep 4:8), others plummeting into the fiery bowels of the earth. (9) It makes all the difference in the world where we’re headed, but the means of transportation appears to be shared in the nether world.

Why such a conveyance system? Well, stating the obvious, we might not know the way to our eternal home, and it isn’t clear that we’d be able to travel there on our own even if we did know how to get there; we do appear to be stuck wherever the angels drop us off, unable to visit other places. (Lk 16:26) And the damned inevitably evade and resist; a secure escort is appropriate.

Yet for those of us in Christ, of course, evasion isn’t a consideration; there’s no better place to be than with Him. (Php 1:23) As we’re abiding in Him here, we’ll be ever closer to Him each instant of our journey home, with a singular delightful focus on Him (Ps 72:25), the most beautiful Being in the universe. (Ps 45:2)

Since each elect soul has at least one angel attending them throughout their entire life (He 1:13-14), it stands to reason they’ll be present with us as we die, and it may in fact be their responsibility to get us all the way home.

It also seems reasonable to think that these personal angelic attendants might grow fond of the saints over time, watching over us day and night, knowing us inside out, and have some personal affection for us since our common Master loves us uniquely, and so very much. Their joy in our homecoming will certainly be evident; perhaps they’ll engage us in some worshipful conversation as we journey into the immediate presence of our Savior (2Co 5:8), enquiring about our walk with Christ (1Pe 1:12) before they depart for their next assignment.

For the lost, however, the journey may not be so pleasant; the fear and dread of eternal destruction (Pr 1:27) evidently comes upon the wicked quite suddenly at death. (Ps 73:18-19)

Angels meeting an unsuspecting soul departing this life might intimidate unto dread (Mt 28:4), and introduce their victim to a sample of God’s eternal hatred. (Ps 139:21) They will surely accomplish His mission for them, unmoved by the cries of the damned; their grip firm and unyielding, their faces — if bewraying honestly — will surely brim with the terror of God. (2Co 5:11)

The secret things belong to God, but those things which are revealed belong to us. (De 29:29) God has revealed mysterious things to those who seek Him (1Co 2:9-10), and we do well to cherish everything He shows us about His way, imagining as well as we can what this final journey home will be like.

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Faith Comes by Hearing

Faith is required to please God (He 11:6), so, what is faith, and how do we get it?

It’s easy to mistake presumption for faith, blocking other possibilities out of our minds and hearts, willfully determining for ourselves what must be, refusing to consider contradictory evidence. This is darkness, the flesh, lacking the deep assurance of the revealed Word and Will of God, and will eventually be exposed as willful blindness and arrogance.

Faith is supernatural assurance, the divine impartation of knowing with absolute confidence and certainty, a knowing which doesn’t require further proof or evidence. It’s the gift of God (Ep 2:8), which comes by hearing God with a trusting, believing heart (Ro 10:17a), and this kind of hearing with this kind of heart comes by the decree of God. (17b)

Faith doesn’t come by hearing the Word of God. It’s necessary to hear the truth to grow in faith, but this in itself is insufficient. What the text says is: “hearing (comes) by the word of God.” (Ro 10:17)

We tend to hear what we want to hear, not what’s actually said. (Jn 8:43) So, God must not only send us the message of truth, He must also give us hearts to perceive, eyes to recognize and ears to receive and accept the truth. (De 29:4)

Submitting to God is a prerequisite for understanding and knowing Him (Mt 13:15), and this requires a new nature; our old nature is incapable of submitting to God. (Ro 8:6) God chooses the poor in spirit rich in faith, electing us to be heirs of His kingdom. (Ja 2:5)

This may seem unreasonable, that faith in God comes only by the decree of God, as if we have no choice or chance in faith, at pleasing God without His aid. It’s as if we think God’s choosing who will have faith is the same as Him choosing who won’t have it, and accuse God of being unrighteous (Ro 9:14), wondering why He finds fault when no one resists His will. (19)

God does choose who has faith (2Th 2:13), but He does not cause anyone to not have faith: rather He commands all men everywhere to repent and believe. (Ac 17:30)

God makes no one distrust Him; in fact, anything other than trusting God and taking Him at His Word is insane wickedness. How can God lie, or be unfaithful, or malicious? Not trusting God is accusing Him of being evil, and God never promotes or encourages this: we do this all on our own, when He leaves us to ourselves. And, of course, no one can please God while accusing Him of malevolence.

The election of God isn’t the arbitrary choice among good, ignorant but well-meaning people, but among the wicked, those who hate Him. (Jn 15:18-19) It’s an election of pure mercy and compassion (Ro 9:15) in which God transforms some wicked souls into saints – vessels of mercy. (23) God quickens the disobedient, those dead to Him in trespasses and sins, children of wrath. (Ep 2:1-3) God’s intervention in our headlong dash away from Him is entirely undeserved, total mercy. (4)

The mercy God shows us in salvation is remarkable indeed, infinite in every respect. He doesn’t need to save anyone; He doesn’t owe us anything: none of us deserve it in the least. Let us glory in the salvation of God and be thankful for His mercy. (Ro 15:9)

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The Only Begotten

When pondering the mystery of the Trinity, one might ask: Is Christ eternally pre-existent, one with God the Father from eternity past, or was He created at a moment in time?

Since we have no concept of time or sequence apart from Creation, there’s no way to describe “before” Creation, or to fathom what “eternity past” actually means, though Christ Himself declares He was there, having glory with the Father before Creation. (Jn 17:5)

So, unless we ignore the Word and propose Christ was created at or after the beginning of time and space, the question requires speculation where words are inadequate, so we might dismiss this as a foolish or unlearned question (2Ti 2:23), one which cannot be rightly articulated if Christ actually had a beginning.

Yet Christ was already God at the instant of the beginning. (Jn 1:1-2) Since all was made by Christ (Col 1:16), and  nothing was created apart from Him, (Jn 1:3), Christ Himself cannot be created.

God is perfect, complete, and therefore immutable (Ja 1:17): God’s essential nature cannot change or improve. (Mal 3:6) Christ being divine yet not pre-existing along with the Father outside time and space implies a fundamental change in God’s nature when Christ arrives, proving (by contradiction) Christ has no beginning.

Christ is begotten, brought forth from the Father, revealing Him. (Mt 11:27) This does not imply Christ had a beginning any more than God the Father had a beginning. The Father has always been one with the Son, part of the same nature and being (De 6:4), having neither beginning nor end. (He 7:3)

The eternal Father ever emanates Christ; they cannot be distinguished or separated from one another (Jn 14:9), and we’re to honor them both together in the same way, as One. (Jn 5:23)

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