His Elect

Scripture refers to God’s elect (Mt 24:31), those whom He has chosen: some angels (1Ti 5:21), as well as a few people. (Co 3:12) Why would God refer to certain angels and people as elect? What does this imply?

The saints are elect unto obedience (1Pe 1:2), chosen before the foundation of the world (Ep 1:4) to submit to God and walk with Him, so it seems reasonable the angels are chosen similarly.

Evidently, those whom God doesn’t choose rebel against Him. along with Satan, and are now at war with God, both humans (Ps 2:1-3) and angels. (Re 12:7)

This non-elect group of rebels evidently comprises nearly all people (1Jn 5:19), a full third of the angels, who chose to remain in Heaven after they rebelled (Re 12:4), along with a number of angels who’ve been chained up for leaving their Heavenly habitation (Ju 6), evidently to intermarry with humans (Ge 6:1-2), corrupt the human race (12), and prevent the Messianic prophecy from being fulfilled. (Ge 3:15)

As a particular showcase example, this ante-diluvian human-angelic mutiny, as it played out prior to the Great Flood, was so effective and pervasive God evidently had to step in and intervene to keep even a single strand of humanity intact (Ge 6:9), preserving a purely human ancestry through which to bring Messiah, destroying all the rest of humanity, most all animal life (Ge 6:13), and starting over, constraining such destructive angelic behavior going onward.

What is impressive (at least to me) about this overwhelming level of depravity, as it persists in both the angelic realm since the Creation week, as well as in humanity since the Fall, particularly as showcased in the ante-diluvian period, is that it apparently occurs even with full knowledge of the Godhead. Satan is so effective in his ability to deceive, he is able to win over anyone and everyone whom God has not graciously enabled to resist (Mt 24:24), even if we’re fully aware of the existence, holiness and omnipotence of God.

That Satan’s ability to deceive is not merely a testament to inherent human or angelic depravity, but evidence of the profound appeal, intelligence and subtlety of Satan (Ez 28:14-15), consider that Eve was enticed by Satan in Paradise when she had no need, trouble or discomfort, no reason to betray God, and did not have a depraved nature. And the angels who sided with Satan evidently did so in plain sight of God, without an inherently evil nature. (For, if God created fallen angels as inherently evil, or with an involuntary predisposition to evil, it is difficult to imagine how they would be culpable for acting out their God-given design.)

The implication is that every sentient, conscious being with the ability to make a moral choice has willingly chosen to depart from God at the first opportunity, even when bathed in the full knowledge of the glory, majesty and power of Almighty Godhead, unless God mercifully intervenes and restrains us. And also, that God has mysteriously chosen to intervene only in extremely few cases. (Mt 7:14)

Both of these mysteries should humble us, and fill us with joy unspeakable for the incredible mercies of God (Ps 103:11), those He has given the grace to believe on Him and follow Him. (Mt 19:25-16) We are precious few in number (Ro 11:5), and no better than the lost when left to our own devices. (Ga 6:3)

It should not surprise us when others do not receive the truth (2Ti 4:3-4), turning against it and against us, even when the truth is stated as clearly, plainly and lovingly as it can possibly be stated. Truly, no flesh shall glory in His presence. (1Co 1:29)

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In Himself Alone

Terminal cancer is no joke. When we hear we have so little time left, what do we do? Re-calibrate? Re-orient? Get out our bucket list and try to live it up? It’s perfectly understandable, whatever we do when we face our fragile little selves for what we really are (Ga 6:3), feeling alone, afraid, uncertain. (He 10:31)

Truly, we’re all dying of a terminal condition: Life itself. But as long as death seems far away, not imminently close, we comfort ourselves however we can, asleep at the wheel.

Facing our mortality wakes us up, helping us realize what and who we are (Ja 4:14), what and who we have, or don’t have. (Ga 6:4-5) It’s clear we don’t take our stuff, our friends or family (1Co 6:29-31), or even our man-made religion (Mk 7:7); we leave it all behind. (1Ti 6:7) We will face God alone, and deal with Him one on one, for eternity. (Ro 14:11-12)

It isn’t so much a choice between Heaven and Hell, though that’s implied; it’s more about being a devoted lover of God, or His enemy: there’s no middle ground with Him. (Mt 12:33)

Think of it this way: no matter where we end up, it’s just going to be like each one of us as an individual is alone with God (2Co 5:8), as if no one else will be on our radar, distracting us from Him, part of our routine, conscious focus, except Him. (Ps 73:25)

What will that be like … if we love God? (1Co 8:3) or if we don’t? (16:22)

For sure, those in Heaven will be in community together, in a sense (He 12:22-23), as well as those in Hell, but as God unveils us into His immediate omnipresence (Jn 17:24), His infinitude will completely consume, occupy and overwhelm all our senses. (Re 20:11) From that moment on, out into eternity, we will see and experience God as All in All (1Co 15:58), drinking in the infinite majesty of Jehovah God. (Re 22:3-5)

If we love God, in that eternal moment, we’ll have all there is to have (Ro 8:17); and if we don’t love God, we’ll be forever face-to-face with the indignant fury of the Almighty (Re 6:16), Who repays all who hate Him to their face. (De 7:9-10)

We may think we don’t actually hate God, perhaps we’re just indifferent or lukewarm, but that’s all the same to Him; He might even detest indifference more intensely. (Re 3:15-16) God cannot be trifled with (Ga 6:7); He commands us to love Him with all our being; mind, heart, soul and strength. (Mk 12:30) Nothing less is acceptable.

False religion is how we deceive ourselves into thinking God will accept us on our merits, because we belong to a special club and follow certain rituals, and the more truth our religion contains the more deceptive it can be. (2Co 11:13-15) Any religion offering us hope by adhering to it is a counterfeit; religion can’t bring us to God. Shedding all formal religion, leaving only the divine relationship, may help us see whether we’re relying on emptiness here.

If we’re honest with ourselves (1Co 3:18), we can tell what and who we truly love. Is it truth? (2Th 2:10) Is it God? Above everything and everyone else? (Jn 12:25) Is this reflected in our lives, day to day? (Pr 20:11) Are we obeying Him the best we know how, submitting our entire lives to Him? (Jn 14:23)

There’s only one Way to God: the Person of Jesus Christ. (Jn 14:6) He is all we need, but to have Him we must give up everything else (Mt 13:44-46); He tolerates no rivals in our affections or loyalties. (Lk 14:26)

If me and Christ forever sounds like Heaven, we’re likely one of the chosen few to find the narrow gate and we’re well on our way (Mt 7:14); otherwise, we’re likely still on the broad road with the mass of Mankind, the walking dead (Ep 2:1), headed to eternal death and destruction. (Mt 7:13) Look for that tiny little gate, find it and strive to enter (Lk 13:24); it’s only One Person wide, and His name is Yeshua: Jesus.

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Do Not Condemn Me

Job accused God of hunting him down like a lion, of chasing him down for reasons that were hidden, mysterious, entirely incomprehensible to Job. (Job 10:16b) He believed God was very angry with him (17), though Job had no idea why. He asked God to not condemn him without first helping Job see his own sin. (2)

Can we relate to Job here? Do we sometimes feel God is out to get us? that He’s disappointed or angry with us for no apparent reason? or even unjust and cruel? This is the way of lying, and we should acknowledge it as such, unwilling to live in it. God simply isn’t this way: He is good, yet Satan is always denying this fundamental fact. (Jn 8:44)

If Job failed anywhere, he seems to have failed here: he experienced a spiritual oppression that claimed to be God but failed to detect the satanic impersonation and call it what it was.

God is angered by willful sin (He 10:26-27), yet slow to anger and merciful as we turn back to Him (Ps 103:8-10), but He’s never angry when we’re clueless (Ro 4:15); He’s merciful when we’re ignorant, incapable of understanding. (1Ti 1:13) If we’re trying our best and we’re still missing the mark (which is always the case), He patiently shows us where we aren’t likeminded with Him (Php 3:15) and helps us (He 4:15-16), one step at a time. (Ps 119:133)

As we struggle, our hearts may condemn us with a feeling we can never measure up no matter how hard we try, but God is greater than our heart and knows all things. (1Jn 3:20) He gave Himself for us, to redeem us and set us free. (Tit 2:14)

Satan lies to us about God to disarm us, to cripple us, to break our communion with God and steal our joy; when we don’t feel condemned before God, we have confidence and joy in Him and can serve Him mightily. (1Jn 3:21-22) This is war; if Satan can’t get us to sin willfully, then he tries to get us to believe God’s displeased with us anyway, which has a similar affect. Don’t fall for it. (Ja 4:7)

Identify any sensation that God is displeased or angry as deception unless it’s directly tied to persistent, willful, unrepentant sin: deliberate transgression of His Law, or purposeful neglect of the known will of God. (Ja 4:17) As God points out specifics, repent and seek healing from Him (Ja 5:16), continuing in the life of worship, fellowship, communion and joy in God. (Php 3:3)

God misses us every second we’re apart from Him, distanced from Him at all (2Co 13:14); there’s no good reason to ever be away. (De 13:4)

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O Wretched Man!

How do we respond to those struggling with immoral attractions and desires? Or who believe deep down they’re in the wrong body? Or who fantasize about unspeakable wickedness?

It does seem as if we’re not all deliberately choosing the feelings and tendencies with which we struggle; they’re evidently inherent in our nature, as if we’re born with them: and Christians are not immune from the fight. (Ro 7:7-8) How then can we condemn such behavior? Why resist it at all? (1Pe 5:9)

God gives us over to a reprobate mind, to harm ourselves and others, when we don’t keep Him central in our world view. (Ro 1:28) Yet many struggle with evil within while pursuing God (Ro 7:18-19); we may indeed be resisting quietly, doing our best to walk uprightly in spite of how wretched we feel, unable to figure out how we got here. (Ro 7:24) What hope do we have in such a struggle?

Perhaps our instincts, apart from our conscious will, spring from our sub-conscious, from beliefs and thinking patterns programmed into us from infancy through a variety of traumatic, social and cultural factors. How have these millions of signals, most of which we didn’t choose, impacted us?

It may also be that we inherit moral tendencies through ancestry (De 23:2), from our culture (3-4), and even from mankind in general (Ro 5:19), infected just being part of the vast, living human organism. (Ep 4:25)

We may not fully understand how we’re influenced by our own thoughts and actions, or those of others, either in the present or in the past, but one thing is clear: as we succumb to these immoral desires and begin to practice them they become much stronger, creating a bondage that deepens and strengthens over time. The more we engage and pursue them the more firmly their stranglehold on our hearts and minds becomes.

We also know that pursuing these immoral tendencies doesn’t tend to satisfy us, to enable us to live balanced, healthy, resilient, joyful, peaceful lives. Giving in to them makes us prisoners of war (2Ti 2:25-26), and most of us aren’t even aware we’re in a battle.

The only other obvious option is to continually resist these impulses, to struggle against them and deny ourselves the pleasures they promise. (Ep 4:22) While this is clearly better than giving ourselves over, the “Just say no” strategy tends to fail over time. Is there a better way?

God tells us knowing the truth makes us free (Jn 8:31-32), that acknowledging the truth delivers us from spiritual slavery and bondage. (1Ti 2:25-26) Truth is the weapon of our warfare here (2Co 10:4); there’s no bondage or instinct too strong for God to heal (Ep 3:20), if we’re willing to pursue and receive the truth. (1Pe 1:4)

Everyone experiences sinful tendencies and attractions which seem beyond our control; we can deny and resist them, but we can’t simply turn them off altogether and choose to feel differently. Rather than presuming “God made me this way” whenever we have an instinctive reaction that’s contrary to moral law, perhaps we should offer up these instincts to God and ask Him to help us re-program both our conscious and sub-conscious minds.

Consistently and prayerfully exposing our minds and hearts to truth, asking God to work it down into the deepest recesses of our being, this is the way to cleansing and freedom. (Ps 119:9) It may not be the quick fix, any more than our initial programming happened overnight; the web of lies may be extremely deep and complex. Our hope is that God knows us better than we know ourselves (Ps 139:1-4), and has given His very best to set us free. (Tit 2:14)

We may not understand exactly how we fell into bondage, but we can still be set free: ask and seek. (Mt 7:7-8) If we want to be healed and pursue God for it, He’s on our side and will be with us every step of the way. (He 13:5-6)

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The Avenger

God tells us very plainly not to avenge ourselves (Ro 12:19), yet He also makes provision in His Law for His people to avenge the death of a loved one, and He evidently wants us to do this. (De 19:12) Thus, while it’s true that vengeance belongs to God alone and not to us, there are evidently times when He chooses us to be the instrument of His vengeance and to deliver it on His behalf.

Predator C Avenger

As we exact revenge on our own, we seldom do so with the right heart; our wrath doesn’t work the righteousness of God (Ja 1:20); righteous anger is indeed a rare thing. Yet when God sets the boundaries on when and how we’re allowed to take revenge, He is keeping us within His standards and ordering our steps in His ways.

After all, as warped as our desire to get even generally is, it is based on a desire for justice, and justice is generally a good thing; it’s a deterrent to evil and places the ultimate cost of malevolence on the perpetrator rather than the victim. When a legal system aligns with God and allows us to take proper revenge, this is holiness.

What God forbids is taking matters into our own hands; He sets the stage for revenge in the context of impartial community which agrees on the legitimacy,  method, timing, and degree of our response. Apart from such a legal system, we must leave restitution entirely in God’s hands.

USS Avenger Minesweeper

Even so, though we’re not allowed to avenge ourselves per current legal standards, we may certainly desire justice (Re 6:10), even rejoice when it’s carried out, and this might indeed be righteous. (Re 19:1-2) When justice is sought so God Himself might be vindicated, for He is the one primarily and mostly wronged in every offense (Ps 51:4), our interest in justice may then be upright. (Ps 119:84)

Yet how do we integrate love for mercy into our love for justice? How are we to do justly as well as love mercy? (Mi 6:8) We do it by loving our neighbor, desiring what’s best for him, which is to be reconciled to God and to walk in His ways.

When repentance is already present (Ex 20:6), or if we have evidence that mercy will further reveal the goodness of God and encourage repentance (Ro 2:4), then mercy is very likely appropriate. (Mt 18:33) Otherwise, justice is likely best, for offender, victim, and all within society. (De 19:20)

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Lord of the Sabbath

When Christ says the sabbath was made for Man, and not Man for the sabbath (Mk 2:27), we might conclude the same about the rest of Torah, that it was made for us: we weren’t made for it. We might also conclude there might be times when it’s OK to break certain parts of God’s law, as when we’re in danger or have an emergency.

The Passion of the Christ

The immediate context is about harvesting on sabbath when we’re famished: the disciples were plucking grain (23) and the Pharisees accused them of breaking Sabbath. (24)

Christ counters with David eating bread he wasn’t allowed to eat; David and his men were famished and there weren’t any good options. (25-26) Christ seems to be saying there are times when God mercifully overlooks certain kinds of Torah violations: it isn’t that they aren’t violations; God just doesn’t call them out or hold us accountable for them in the same way.

What shall we say of god-fearing people who lied during the Holocaust to save innocent lives? Do we really see ourselves standing up on Judgment day condemning them? (Mt 12:41) We might be quite alone if we do; while God doesn’t officially approve of this kind of behavior, neither does He explicitly call it out as evil (Ex 1:19); He does seem to overlook it. (20-21)

The fact that plucking grain on sabbath actually doesn’t violate Torah at all, just Jewish tradition, may then not be the point; perhaps the point is that God is free to mercifully overlook certain kinds of sin without being unjust. (Ge 19:21) Perhaps it’s also about us being overly scrupulous in evaluating others’ behavior, especially in difficult, unusual or trying circumstances.

In reminding us He’s Lord of the Sabbath (Mk 2:28), Christ wasn’t telling us it’s OK to violate the sabbath now, or any part of Torah (Mt 5:19), but that He knows best when and how to show mercy when we break it.

It’s one thing to appreciate the mercy of God (Ps 136:1), yet it’s another matter altogether to presume He will be merciful when we deliberately and willfully choose to break Torah for our own pleasure and convenience. (He 10:28-31) When obeying God will bring suffering and difficulty, how committed should we be to honoring and respecting God’s Law? Should we break sabbath to keep a job? Or lie to save a loved one? Would we rather starve than eat unclean food?

Every one of us will give account of himself to God (Ro 14:11-12), and we’re all at different stages of maturity; some have faith to suffer for minor Torah violations, while others may not yet be so well grounded, becoming bitter and resentful in premature sacrifice. We should not create burdens for ourselves and others (Ac 15:10) which we’re unable to gladly bear. (He 10:34) Sorting this out is no small matter.

Whether God will slam us to the mat if we happen to break His Law under duress may not be the right question. Would Jesus break God’s Law to convenience Himself? or to accommodate someone He loves? Even to spare His own life? He never did sin like this (1Pe 2:22) and we’re to follow His steps. (21)

A better question might be, What kind of Resurrection do we want? (He 12:35b) What kind of testimony? (Re 12:11)

It’s a matter of faith to trust God to work out the details when we’re in a bind, to give us the strength to walk in joy, honoring Him as we suffer. Staying alive isn’t the ultimate priority (Php 1:21-22); neither is comfort or pleasure – ours or anyone else’s. We’ve not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. (He 12:4) The goal of God’s love is holiness: it makes no room for sin.

Shall we be so delighted in God’s ways that as the pressures of life mount up and threaten us (Ps 119:61), closing in about us until our very life hangs in the balance (109), we’ll not neglect or forsake His precepts? (87) Clinging to them as unto Him? (31) If we’ve yielded our body a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God (Ro 12:1), we’ve already decided.

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Works of the Devil

When we observe inconsistencies between our rational minds and our emotions we discover our subconscious: underlying beliefs controlling us which are contrary to our intellect. What we actually believe and who we are is a composite of all these beliefs, and it’s a bit mysterious.

Many fight intense negative emotion, fear and anxiety, when they’re in no danger; others, a critical voice relentlessly discouraging and crippling them; still others wrestle with a debilitating sense of shame and worthlessness they can’t shake off. We all have spiritual wounds keeping us from functioning according to God’s design.

A girl, having done her best, hears, “Why don’t you do better? You’ll never amount to anything!” Satan whispers, “Something’s wrong with you; you’re unloved, worthless, unimportant, unnecessary.” As an adult she’s working herself to the bone serving others, but she’s constantly anxious, restless, no satisfaction or peace.

A boy is sexually violated and hears the insidious whisper, “If God loved you He wouldn’t have let this happen to you; you’re dirty, flawed, worthless.” As an adult he’s filled with fear and shame, hiding in rebellion and perversion.

We might frame all of this up in terms of lies and truth: when we’re acting inconsistently with reality we’re believing a lie. We might call the resulting damage to our souls works of the devil, the consequence of believing Satan’s lies about our lived experience (Jn 8:44b), and see Jesus Christ, the Truth (Jn 14:6), as our Deliverer: He destroys the works of the devil. (1Jn 3:8b)

The Passion of the Christ

Whenever we experience trauma, Satan is at hand to feed us the lie: “God isn’t good; you’re the problem.” But it’s just a lie, and there’s no reason to believe it. Yet we do tend to believe it, and this is the problem.

These lies are often buried so deeply within our subconscious we don’t even know what’s happened to us, or where to begin in dealing with them. So, how do we get free? (Ro 7:24)

We get into spiritual bondage in stages, gradually, starting in childhood and believing more and more lies as we go through life. So, it should come as no surprise that we generally get free the same way, over time, in many small steps, believing more and more truth (Jn 8:32) as we pursue God (Mt 7:7-8) and He teaches us His Way. (1Jn 2:27)

The only path to freedom is going back the way we came: realigning our mind with reality, believing differently; it’s called repentance, and it’s the gift of God. (2Ti 2:25-26)

Freedom comes as we internalize three primal truths: [1] God is good; [2] God is sovereign; and [3] He created each of us for a unique purpose. Like a three-legged stool, remove any of these fundamental principles and we have an unstable foundation.

We must know deep down that God loves us and that He’s ultimately benevolent towards us. (Ps 27:13) We must also know He’s in charge of everything: nothing ever happens without His permission. (Ro 11:36) And we must be confident that He has a unique design and purpose in creating us (Re 2:17b), and that all He has ever allowed to happen to us, or ever will allow, is ultimately for good. (Ro 8:28)

God calls us to pursue His purpose for us (2Ti 2:17), and He will help us as we turn to Him and follow after Him. (He 4:16)

The more deeply we know these things the more we align with reality and deliver ourselves from Satan’s devices.

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To Patience Godliness

Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith (He 12:2), instructs us to diligently add to our faith (2Pe 1:5); though God works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Php 2:13), He tells us to work out our own sanctification with fear and trembling. (12)

As we pursue God, there’s evidently an optimal path or sequence in sanctification: starting with faith we’re to add virtue, then add knowledge, then temperance, then patience, then godliness, then brotherly kindness, then charity. (2Pe 1:5-7)

Adding godliness between patience and brotherly kindness is perhaps unexpected: godliness is how we might identify the ultimate spiritual goal (2Pe 1:3), so why would God emphasize a particular sequence in sanctification, and include godliness as an intermediate step?

Godliness is from the Greek εὐσέβειαν, which is also translated holiness. (Ac 3:12) It evidently conveys the idea of reverential piety, fervency and earnest sincerity in spiritual matters. It’s wanting to be aligned with God at the most fundamental levels; it’s receiving Him into the deepest recesses of our hearts, inviting His scrutiny, rebuke and chastening, and welcoming His healing, communion and fellowship. (Re 3:20)

Focusing first on rightly aligning with God before kindness and love, godliness being the fine-tuning of this alignment, is perhaps an indication that we must be in right relationship with God before we can rightly relate with others. The greatest commandments, summarizing all of God’s Law (Mt 22:40), sequence moral priority like this: first love God then love others. (37-39) The Decalogue confirms, starting with godward commands (Ex 20:3-7), and finishing with relational commands. (12-17)

Having patience as a foundation for godliness positions us to maintain hope in suffering as we pursue holiness; it’s saying God is good at our own expense, knowing God is faithful, and reveals that we are rightly grounded in Him. Until we suffer well in God our faith hasn’t been tried (Ja 1:2-3) and found true. (1Pe 1:7)

Focusing on godliness as a foundation for kindness and love helps us love more authentically, more effectively. Knowing God’s love doesn’t come naturally; think carefully about it, examine it, pray for and seek understanding. (Ep 3:14, 19) If we don’t understand God’s love, how can we rightly love ourselves and others?

As we grow in Christ we don’t get everything at each stage of sanctification before we move on to the next; we don’t become perfectly virtuous before we gain the first bit of knowledge. The idea here is emphasis; if we value virtue above knowledge, we’ll understand how to rightly use knowledge and it won’t make us proud. (2Co 8:b) Similarly, pursuing godliness as a foundation for charity ensures that what passes for agape love in us is the genuine article, authentic, not superficial or put on, not for show.

God’s love is about holiness (He 12:10), not human comfort, happiness or pleasure. The more we’re aligned with God, the more our love for others will reflect His.

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Remember the Day

Thirty-eight years ago today I was born again in a mobile home park in Alamosa, CO, after struggling for nearly 5 years to understand and believe the gospel. I was 22 years old.

Prior to this I had earnestly prayed The Sinner’s Prayer on two different occasions, asking Christ to come into my heart and save me and committing my life to serve Him, and I had been baptized three times. I had attended Bible college, memorized many books of the Bible, led scores of people in professions of faith, and preached many sermons in church pulpits. But I never had assurance of salvation, and was still struggling earnestly to believe the gospel and be saved.

Several months prior to this God had spoken to me directly and revealed my lost condition: I loved the Bible and I loved religion, but I didn’t love Him: God is precious to believers (1Pe 2:7), so I wasn’t a believer, not just yet. The evangelical message had completely failed me; after years of earnestly searching and studying and going to church … I had no faith: I didn’t know what it was or how to get it.

It was on July 11, 1984, that I finally decided I could not go on any longer without understanding the gospel. I had locked myself in my study, determining not to leave until I believed on Christ and had assurance of eternal life. (1Jn 5:13) I knew it had nothing to do with asking Christ to save me, repenting of my sins, dedicating my life to serve Him, believing Christ had lived and died and rose again, being baptized, attending church, etc. What it was I had no idea, but I had to know. Not knowing was not an option.

Salvation was by faith: I knew I had to believe something I didn’t currently believe, to know something by faith that I didn’t currently know, and I could not for the life of me figure out what this was, and no one had been able to help me.

As I was meditating on and studying the word propitiation in 1 John 2:2, it suddenly became apparent to me that Christ had actually already paid my sin debt in full when He died on the cross for me (Is 53:11), and that the only way I could possibly be condemned was if He had somehow failed. His righteousness was suddenly now my righteousness, and I was as safe in Him as He was. This belief was certain, unshakable, steadfast. There was nothing to ask for, no ritual to perform, nothing to do: it was already done. All I could do was say, “Thank you!”, and so I did.

This was an entirely new experience for me, something I had never believed before. I could not explain why I believed it, or how this had happened to me. I also realized in that instant that God was now precious to me; I loved Him, I was attracted to Him, committed to Him and delighted in Him, more than anything or anyone else.

This is my testimony, my understanding of how one is born again and how I have experienced it: we believe on God for our salvation and trust Him as our Savior. (Ro 4:4) This produces assurance of eternal life in us (He 10:22) and creates in us a new nature: it isn’t something we can actually do on our own, any more than we can do something to be born physically (Ja 1:20): it is something God does in us. (Jn 1:13) He must give us both the hunger to seek Him, as well as the faith to believe on Him.

Within God’s feast of Passover, I see His command to remember this day every day of my life (De 16:3), the day I was born anew, personally delivered from this present evil world, according to the will of God. (Ga 1:4) I will never forget it.

Thank you Father for your unspeakable gift! (2Co 9:15)

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To Know the Love

The love of God is certainly a mystery; He loves in ways which are quite foreign to us. He loves His enemies (Mt 5:44-45), offering forgiveness and reconciliation (Ro 10:21), while allowing immense suffering in His own children when He could easily prevent it; to the most faithful and obedient He even bestows pain and suffering as a gift. (Php 1:29) It’s not the kind of love we’re familiar with.

The goal of God’s love, the guiding principle, is evidently not our temporal pleasure or comfort, but that we might be partakers of His holiness. (He 12:10) This truly is ultimate benevolence and merciful kindness, to align us with Himself and His nature, with truth and light; anything less would be unloving and malicious.

God knows all, including what we would do, left to our own devices, in every situation we could possibly encounter, and what we would become without His intervention and aid in every conceivable circumstance. He also knows the absolute best way to reveal Himself in and through us, and how to work holiness in us for His own glory and pleasure. (Php 2:13) His love, both for Himself and for us, ensures He will do so perfectly, in the perfect way and in the perfect time (Jud 24), working everything for ultimate good in and for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. (Ro 8:28)

The primary manifestation of God’s love is in sending His Son into the world that we might live through Him. (1Jn 4:9) It’s here we find the ultimate expression of love: God sending His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (10), to redeem us from all iniquity and purify us unto Himself. (Tit 2:14)

In order to save us God became sin for us, that we might be made perfectly righteous in Him. (2Co 5:21) God suffers inexpressibly in order to be in relationship with us, laying down His very life for us. (1Jn 3:16) In other words, God is all in; He holds nothing back (Ro 8:32), and He can rightly require no less of us (Ro 12:1) — this isn’t about comfort: it’s about holiness, without which no one will see God. (He 12:14)

The full experiential knowledge of this love is priceless; we should study it and meditate on it, asking God to open our eyes (Ep 1:16b-17), praying for ourselves and for each other, that we might be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ep 3:14-19)

How well we understand God’s love is revealed in how well we’re obeying Him. (1Jn 2:3) How thankful are we? (Ep 5:20) How joyful? (Php 4:4) Are we abounding in hope? (Ro 15:13) Are we seeking the welfare of our enemies, in God and for Him? (Mt 5:44-45) Do we see God’s love in all He does? (Ro 11:36) This is the Holy Ghost revealing the love of God in us, and shedding it abroad through us. (Ro 5:5)

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