Romans 8 if we could Really Lose our Salvation

Will God allow His children, born from His own Spirit, adopted into His family in Christ, and indwelt by His Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance (Eph. 1:14)… to apostatize and lose their justified, beloved place in His sight?

Understand what is at stake: Many who love Christ, His Word, His promises, and His gospel nonetheless teach that the regeneration unto eternal life is revocable upon crossing certain boundary markers. Put another way, they teach us that Christ has no sure hold on His people – any one of us could apostatize, lose our justified standing before the Father, who disowns us, the Holy Spirit leaves us, and we are once again headed for hell.

This is detrimental to the Christian understanding of salvation.

What would Romans 8 (Paul’s magnum opus on Christian security in Christ) look like if God actually let His children lose their faith and die under His wrath? It would be ugly – check it out:

Continue reading

A Brief Reflection on the Goodness of the Law and the Betterness of the Christ

The law(s) of the Lord is(are) pure, perfect, and holy, and we are not. Therefore the law is at enmity with us when we are dead in sins and trespasses, but in Christ by grace through faith, we are counted as being lawkeepers… AND… we have the law written in our new, circumcised hearts where the Holy Spirit produces new obedience! (Ezekiel nails it in 36:25-27).

So for the Christian, the law is kept by faith (and faith alone) in Christ, and the ethic of our life is now found in Christlikeness – by the outline of His nature and what love looks like as expressed throughout the New Testament imperatives. We don’t have to keep the commandments of God – but in Christ, we get to. We have the privilege of obeying Him to make Him known. Anyone who practices unrepentant sin does not know Him (1 John 3), for to know Jesus and to face Him in faith is to turn our backs on sin, selfishness, and Satan.

Jesus is our new Master, and the law is only seen correctly through His perfect life given to us by grace alone, through faith alone… to the glory of the beautiful God alone (Gal. 3:24-25).

Thank the Lord.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Crucifixion was Invented After it was Foreseen in the Hebrew Scriptures

I am pretty sure the internet is devoid of commentary on prophecy (that’s sarcasm, folks), so I’d better throw in a dash of red-hot, mind-blowing prophetic power to light up your life.

Peppers

Prophesy Friday is my attempt to counteract some of the atrocious sea of false prophecy and sensationalism out there. If these posts are a blessing to you, please consider sharing them with a friend.

…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev. 19:10

Let’s strengthen our mutual faith together, brothers and sisters. Foresight and clarity of Bible prophecy is one of (if not the) greatest means of growing in our faith in the true God.

The earliest uses of crucifixion date to around the 6th century B.C., but was not in wide use until centuries later.

Think with me now. The Bible is plainly a supernatural work, and the predictive prophecy aspect of it is one of its strongest proofs for this. If someone in the Bible wrote predictive prophecy about someone being crucified long before it was invented, then it is logical to conclude that whoever wrote the prediction had a vision of a future reality.

Check these three Scriptures:

1) Psalm 22, circa 1000 B.C., which is over 1,000 years before Jesus was crucified.

It begins with the words Jesus shouted from the cross of His crucifixion:

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?

The lament goes on detailing the forsakenness of the crucified one, and then He describes a bodily suffering which is particular to crucifixion:

14 I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.

He is suffering terrible pains of death – but then He says something that cannot be anything but a prophecy of God’s Son, nailed to the accursed tree, suffering the wrath of God in our place:

16 For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.

They pierced My hands and My feet;

17 I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.

There was no such method of execution at the time this Psalm was written. But in case someone is still confused as to whom this Psalm refers, He goes on to observe as

18 They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots. (NKJV)

Just like the Roman soldiers did for Jesus’ clothing. Perfect, pure, prophecy.

2) Isaiah 53, circa 730 B.C, over 750 years before Jesus was crucified.

He was bearing our punishment on that cross. Look at what Isaiah said:

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and Yahweh has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (ESV)

Life-giving prophecy. Not the screwy, Harold Camping-type junk that fills the internet and “Christian” T.V. – just the pure Scripture of the Holy Spirit, telling us about our glorious Savior centuries before His birth, life, death, and resurrection.

3) Zechariah 12, circa 430 B.C., almost 500 years before Jesus’ crucifixion.

God speaks in the first person here. Think about that, and look:

10 And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. (NKJV)

Jesus, speaking in the first person as Yahweh, God of Israel. The only way they could look on God whom they pierced would be if He became a man, became “piercible.”

Look upon Him, and live.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Binding the Christian with Law does not Produce Freedom

From part 4 of my friend Ed Trefzger’s series “Completed by the Spirit“, this is for the Reformed Baptist and Presbyterian brethren out there. Speaking about the use of the Law in the life of the Christian, Trefzger notes

Despite Paul’s warnings that the law arouses sin, many will point to the law as a prime mover in sanctification,  essen­tial to con­vict­ing us about our remain­ing sin and mea­sur­ing our growth in holi­ness. In doing so, they will attempt to draw a dis­tinc­tion between being “under the law” and fol­low­ing the law…

Yet for the Christian,

It is the Spirit that sanc­ti­fies, not the law in a fleshly exer­cise of behav­ior mod­i­fi­ca­tion. Des­per­a­tion and more sin­ful­ness are the results of a focus on law for sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion instead of avail­ing one’s self of the Holy Spirit and behold­ing with awe the per­son and work of Jesus Christ.

And commenting on Joel Beeke’s focus on law-based sanctification, Trefzger (before the Lance Armstrong scandal ruined him), puts it starkly:

Beeke [argues] that bind­ing users under the law actu­ally pro­duces free­dom. Per­haps an anal­ogy would be that keep­ing train­ing wheels on bicy­cles actu­ally pro­duces Lance Armstrong.

Ed Trefzger

Ed Trefzger is an elder at the Evangelical Church of Fairport, NY

Can you tell he has a passionate stance on this issue? I do too. Sanctification is summarized by Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 when he declares triumphantly

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Christian, you are free to be sanctified in freedom from legalism, for you are not under law, but under grace. Look to, gaze upon, and feast on the glorious Christ for all that is needed in this life…

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

God’s Sovereign Grace Just Rocks

In late 2002 the Lord Jesus opened my heart to receive Him, and I was born again. In early 2007 the Lord Jesus opened my eyes to see that salvation is all God, and nothing of me.

Of course, I would have mouthed the credit to Him before that point, as grateful as I was, and as wretched as I was before I was saved, but I didn’t know what kind of salvation had really happened to me.

Monergism

From monergism.com –

The Century Dictionary defines it as follows:

“In theology, the doctrine that the Holy Spirit is the only efficient agent in regeneration – that the human will possesses no inclination to holiness until regenerated, and therefore cannot cooperate in regeneration.”

I could not cooperate in my regeneration, I had no part in the choice to be saved, I take no credit for even not resisting the work of the Holy Spirit. There is one thing I take credit for in having become a true Christian: the wretched sinfulness and rebellion in my nature and actions that made my rescue necessary. That’s all I contributed.

The Holy Spirit Himself is the single, active agent in the moment of initial salvation for all who are redeemed. Our response to being born again is repentance of sin (imperfect as it is), and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (who He is and what He has done).

That’s monergism – and that’s pure, beautiful, joyous Christian truth.

Some Technical Definitions

I look forward to expressing on this site a strong love of God’s sovereign grace. To be precise, I am not a Calvinist, and I am not Reformed. To be one or both of those, one has to subscribe to the Reformed and Calvinistic confessions of faith such as the Heidelberg Catechism and the Westminster Confession of Faith.

As expressed in those dynamite confessions, Calvinism includes covenant theology and the baptism of infants. Without those elements and the ecclesiology of the Reformed confessions, one is not truly Reformed.

I myself am still working through the points of covenant theology (of which I am oh so close to agreement), and the resultant wet infants of the Reformed churches. With that said, this citizen of New Jerusalem is a hearty, happy Protestant, and this site will feature much more clear delineation of the doctrines of sovereign grace as the days go on.

I believe the doctrine Christ’s Church needs to be preaching in this hour of history is that solid old monergism that broke the stranglehold of Rome over the Church 500 years ago.

Be sure to subscribe to receive an e-mail when the Citizen posts, and help me develop my thinking as I grow with you in the grace and truth of our wonderful Savior Jesus the Messiah.

I’ll leave you with some gold for your pockets.

Thanks for reading,

-Adam

“If our religion be of our own getting or making, it will perish; and the sooner it goes, the better; but if our religion is a matter of God’s giving, we know that He shall never take back what He gives, and that, if He has commenced to work in us by His grace, He will never leave it unfinished.”
C.H. Spurgeon

” …the conversion of a sinner being not owing to a man’s self determination, but to God’s determination, and eternal election, which is absolute, and depending on the sovereign Will of God, and not on the free will of man; as is evident from what has been said : and it being very evident from the Scriptures, that the eternal election of saints to the faith and holiness, is also an election of them to eternal salvation; hence their appointment to salvation must also be absolute, and not depending on their contingent, self-determining Will.”
Jonathan Edwards

“For non-reformed theologies…”at the end of the day, the security of the believer finally rests with the believer. For those in the opposite camp [Reformed], the security of the believer finally rests with God — and that, I suggest, rightly taught, draws the believer back to God himself, to trust in God, to a renewed faith that is of a piece with trusting him in the first place.”
D.A. Carson

The Bible “locates unbelief in the total inability of sinners to effect their own liberation from the bondage of the will, and … locate faith in the unconditional election, redemption, and effectual calling of the triune God alone. God gives not only sufficient grace (that is, enough grace to enable sinners to respond positively to God if they choose to do so), but efficient grace (that is, regeneration as well as faith and repentance as gifts).”
– Michael Horton The Christian Faith, pg. 562

 

The Deeps: Valley of Vision Prayer

Sometimes I have trouble praying as I ought – but often I turn to the Valley of Vision for help in getting my engine started. One of Christianity’s greatest books from the past 2,000 years, VoV would be my second book choice if stranded on a desert island, right after the Bible, and right before The Existence and Attributes of God by Stephen Charnock. Oh, those Puritans.

Down In The Valley

This might be a good prayer for you if you find yourself weak in zeal for Christ, weak in prayer, weak in devotion. It might be a good idea to buy Valley of Vision and keep it close to you for the times you don’t know how to pray. Yes, the Psalms are better, but right after them comes VoV. Just beautiful help for the Christian, here.

Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance, a horror of sin, a dread of its approach. Help me chastely to flee it and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be Thine alone.

Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in Thee, the ground of my rest, the spring of my being. Give me a deeper knowledge of Thyself as Saviour, Master, Lord, and King. Give me deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in Thy Word, more steadfast grip on its truth. Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action, and let me not seek moral virtue apart from Thee.

Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly husbandman, that my being may be a tilled field, the roots of grace spreading far and wide, until Thou alone art seen in me, Thy beauty golden like summer harvest, Thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.

I have no master but Thee, no law but Thy will, no delight but Thyself, no wealth but that Thou givest, no good but that Thou blessest, no peace but that Thou bestowest. I am nothing but that Thou makest me. I have nothing but that I receive from Thee. I can be nothing but that grace adorns me. Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to overflowing with living water.

Valley of Vision

Thanks for praying with me,

-Justin

Poetic, Prophetic King David and Blind (Tour) Guides: Prophesy Fridays

I am pretty sure the internet is devoid of commentary on prophecy (that’s sarcasm, folks), so I’d better throw in a dash of yellow-hot, mind-blowing prophetic power to light up your life.

Scotch Bonnet

The reality is, I say that at the beginning of every “Prophesy Friday” because I’m aiming to counteract some of the atrocious sea of false prophecy and sensationalism out there. If these posts are a blessing to you, please consider sharing them with a friend.

…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev. 19:10

Let’s strengthen our mutual faith together, brothers and sisters. Foresight and clarity of Bible prophecy is one of (if not the) greatest means of growing in our faith in the true God. Today we’re going to look at the prophetic power of Psalm 110, one of the most oft quoted Psalms in the New Testament, and one that Jesus Himself used to identify Himself as the Messiah and God. Prophetic pepper. But my friend in Israel didn’t really agree.

He was a soldier in the 1967 6-day war between the teenage State of Israel and her fierce Arab enemies all around. He’s been a champion of his nation, and a believer in all things Jewish since his boyhood. My tour guide through Israel knew his way around the nation, and he had a passion for her every nook and cranny.

Meet Meyil.

Israeli Tour Guide Meyil

At one of the stations of the cross, traditionally where Jesus stumbled while bearing his cross to Golgotha. The photograph is itself a picture of how close most Jews are to the truth, yet turned away looking elsewhere. Jerusalem 2009

As we puttered around Israel in our air-conditioned van, Meyil pulled the steel arm of the microphone down to his mouth over and over.

“This is called ‘Magdala’.

“Over dere is called ‘Waddi’ dat de ancient people walked from town to de other side of de mountains to de other town to visit de relatives.”

“Here Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount.”

And all the way around the country we went – Caesaria, Haifa, Ptolemais, Galilee, Golan Heights, West Bank, Dead Sea, Qumran, Jerusalem, and more. It was a fantastic time, made all the better for our tiny tour group because not only was Meyil an expert in the history of his nation, but he also had studied the New Testament at university. He proudly filled in details of every place we went, not only from his own Jewish history, but reverently took off his hat in every Roman Catholic shrine and Christian holy place. I hung on his every word as we walked across the temple mount together, and watched him out of the corner of my eye as the British fellow at the Garden Tomb exuberantly described the historical meaning of Jesus’ resurrection.

During one of our outings – it happened to be in John the Baptist’s hometown – I walked next to Meyil and asked him questions about his life and background. He talked about his time in the military, his schooling, his perspective on Iran and the Palestinians, and of course, on the New Testament and Jesus. Anticipating my evangelistic move, Meyil cut off a question of mine, seeing where I was going – “God is good to us all, and for Him, to try… is enough.” There was his theology. To try is enough for God – to be a good Jewish boy or Christian boy. I walked beside my friend, silenced by the finality of his declaration.

When Israel’s Greatest King Spoke of Jesus

David was the man after God’s own heart. We also know that when David waxed poetic and wrote his Psalms, it was the Holy Spirit speaking through him, just as Peter preached

Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus (Acts 1:16 ESV).

So David wrote his Psalms according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Peter later confirms this idea of divine inspiration when he writes

 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).

David was not only Israel’s greatest king, he was also a prophet. Ironically, David prophesied most often about his own descendant, Jesus of Nazareth – and yet my tour guide, as educated in New Testament as he was, as respectful to Christianity as he was, stumbled at this point.

In the southern end of the Old City of Jerusalem, we walked the narrow streets of what is called “the City of David,” otherwise known as the hill of Zion. Meyil pointed and flourished upon every rock and stone, telling of the history of Suleiman the Great, the Turkish ruler who rebuilt the walls of the Old City, and how in the City of David we would see the so-called tomb of David. Outside of the tomb, I noticed the defaced statue of King David,

King David Jerusalem

playing his harp as usual. Here Meyil talked about David; who he was, and how he remains Israel’s most celebrated figure – the founder of Jerusalem as the capital and all. But then he said something that threw me for a loop.

David was many things, but a prophet he was not.

I spoke up immediately, almost on accident: “David was a great prophet, Meyil. He wrote beautiful prophecies…”

“No,” he cut me off, “he did not write prophecy. Let us move on to de tomb” he said, turning to walk onward. I was stunned. Not a prophet? How could he say that? My mind raced to the Scriptures: Psalm 2, 22-24, 40, and so many more speak so clearly of… oooohhh, right. Of Jesus. That’s why Meyil rejected his greatest king as a prophet, because David was constantly writing about his own son Jesus, and no one who rejects the Lordship of Jesus could accept David’s testimony of Him.

Psalm 110 and Jesus’ Puzzling Question

Jesus was nearing the end of His time on earth, less than a week from His crucifixion. The Pharisees had badgered Him and hounded Him for years, and Jesus had just about had it (read Matthew 23 to see what He thought of them). At the end of Matthew 22, Jesus takes a turn asking a question to them:

What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He? (Matt. 22:42 NKJV)

That word Christ, from the Hebrew, means “Messiah” – Jesus was asking the Pharisees a grade-school question. Whose son is the Messiah? Any Jewish toddler could have answered between suckles at momma’s breast.

They said to Him, “The Son of David.”

OK Jesus, we’ll play your game. We’ll feed you the obvious answer… now what’s the punchline?

Yes, they were in for a punchline. Thinking they knew their Scriptures, that they had turned them in and turned them out and turned them into sauer kraut, they had yet missed the central, unifying figure of the entire Bible: the Man asking them the question. There is no irony in all of literature like this moment. He then delivers the goods:

How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying:

‘Yahweh said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool’?”

First Jesus notes the divine inspiration of the text of Psalm 110:1, David calls Him “Lord” in the Spirit.

Second, whoever this Lord is, David sees Him seated at the right hand of Yahweh… the checkmate comes:

If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?

In other words, riddle me this, Batman: If all of us scholarly Jews agree that Psalm 110 is referring to the Messiah, as we do, and the Messiah is David’s son, as He is, then how is it David calls Him ‘Lord,’ as in, “my Lord and my God”… ? Jesus had delivered the bomb into the house, and the eyes of every Pharisee had just watched the fuse disappear into the explosive head – kaboom, friends. Kaboom, Meyil. Kaboom, world. The Messiah is also the Lord of heaven, the Messiah is a divine Son – yet also a human being… all there in Psalm 110, all written by David His ancestor 1,000 years before His virgin birth.

So what did the great scholarly Pharisees reply to this explosion of prophetic grace?

And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore (Matt. 22:46).

Oh, well pardon me. Cat got your tongues, boys? No wonder they murdered Him – He looked them in the eye, claimed to be the fulfillment of their Scriptures, and made them silent fools in front of their nation.

What About You?

Have you bowed the knee to the Man Jesus Christ? He is the fulfillment of all Scripture; the meaning of life is found in Him. He is the Creator of the cosmos, and the King of eternity. He is Wonderful… and He bowed His own royal head in death to purchase the forgiveness of sins for you. Believe it.

I will leave us this week with the full, glorious text of Psalm 110 – a sort of autobiographical sketch of the God-Man Messiah Jesus. Grace to you all who love Him.

1 Yahweh says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Yahweh sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
Yahweh has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”

Yahweh is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.

I pray that Meyil, and every Jew would see the true King of Israel.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin