Monday, February 24, 2014

What Kind Of People Ought You To Be?

16th February 2014, Passage: 2 Peter 3:11-14 
How does the knowledge about Christ’s coming affect you? What about the eminent end of all things, how does it impact you? God will soon bring the created order into an end in order to fully do away with sin and have a eternal community of a people who truly and spiritually worship Him. Now this should cause us to think clearly about this awful truth. Yes, we are all apprehensive about such a future.
This is the question that the Apostle brings to our attention –
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!  But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
This is the most serious matter. It is something that we must very seriously consider. We must not be slothful, negligent or careless in these matters. We are to be prepared for it, so that we are not taken by surprise when it will come. There are expectations that God has for us in furnishing us with this sort of information. God will not just give information that has not purpose. He is giving us this information so that we may be a specific sort of people. So, what sort of people ought we to be in view of this?
1)    We must be waiting expectantly for this great Day
2)    We must be preparing for it!
3)    We must be hastening its coming!

1.    We must be waiting expectantly for this great Day
The problem of the ungodly is that they have great regard for the coming of this great Day. They wish it away – yes they ignore it. They are not waiting for it. Instead they think that by burying their heads on the sand, it will never come. They scoff at it as we have already seen. They listen to the false teachers who scoff at it. The result is that they will be caught unawares to the peril of their souls.
However for us as believers, we must be different. The Lord has revealed these things for our sake. It is a period of grace so that as we reflect on what will become of us we may be focused on Christ and not what we can and can’t do because it is all done on the cross for us. Peter has already told us that the Day will come upon us suddenly like a thief. This is something that Paul also so emphatically asserts in 1Thess. 5:2. What shall do in expectation of this unexpected suddenness?
In expectation, a very high level of alertness is expected of us. Imagine you are on the track, just about to take a 100M sprint… the referee says, “On your marks!” and everyone takes his position. Then he shouts, “Get ready!” At this level being ready, you are to be on high alert for the next instruction. At this point you can’t afford to close your eyes… or to lose focus. We are always being told that the government is on high alert because of the terrorism threat. The security apparatus are ready for a slight indication of a terrorist. The government is in great expectation of a possibility of threat. This is what the Lord is telling us about – be on high alert.
Notice how Peter repeats that we must be waiting (vv.12, 13 & 14). This word can also be translated ‘looking’ like the way Peter required the man who was sat at the beautiful gate with a disability, “Look at us,” Peter told him. This man, we are told, “Fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.” (Acts 3:4,5). So we are expected to, be expecting, to be looking, to be waiting for. Yes we are to live always anticipating that something great and remarkably wonderful to happen.
Our great problem is that we are living as if our lives depend on this world! We have put so much emphasis on the treasures of this world that are transient and have forgotten the eternal. You are to remember that whatever this world can afford is soon going to be gone and forever lost. Because this world is passing away with all its treasures. Not only so but also the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! This is the reality that all these things that we see and enjoy are soon going to be replaced with things that are eternal. What sort of a Christian ought you to be in view of this? You ought not to put any hope in these things because even before the Lord comes, thieves, moths and rust are working hard to deprive you of their comfort.
This world will remain in rebellion and in groaning until that Great Day, at the revelation of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. There will not be any permanent social reforms, there will not be any peace in the world, there will be no joy… the hope of this world does not rest in human right activists working harder in securing social order and justice, the police will not make this world a better place to live in. it is only when Christ will come that a child can play with a snake and lion can live with a deer in harmony… before then the world remains at enmity with God. While we believe in human governments and good laws, we are not to put our faith in it for is will soon disappoint us. All our energies are to be fixed on this great anticipation of the revelation of the Lord Jesus in great glory. This is our hope.
2.    We must be preparing for it! (v.14)
In preparation for the Great Day we are called upon to be diligent. This is why Peter says,
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.”(v.14)
You notice that the Apostle is not interested in morality for morality or ethics’ sake. The expectation to live a godly life of holiness, described in such terms as without spot or blemish, and at peace, because there is the blessed hope coming on all those who live in that manner. If you are expecting the new heavens and the new earth where righteousness dwells, how can you now live a reckless life. If you are waiting for the revelation of righteousness in future, it means that righteousness is expected of you now. This is the preparation that we are to have.
Be diligent. The greatest problem of Christians is negligence, remember that there is a curse on the one who does the work of the Lord negligently (Jer. 28:10) and so being full aware of this, we are called upon to be diligent. What does this mean? What is expected of us here? We are expected to be found in Christ without spot or blemish. Here is a call to be so diligent that not a single spot is seen in us… Christ is coming for a church that is without spot, blemish or wrinkle and so any spot is an indication that Christ is not coming for you. The preparation therefore involves working on all these spots and blemishes by the Spirit of God cleansing us with pure water of God’s Word. Are you pressing on towards spotless purity? You are to be perfecting holiness by working and laboring that you are found with no spot or blemish in your thinking, no such thing in your desires, no pollution in your actions but holiness so that you may be fit to live where righteousness dwells.
In this period of waiting we are to pursue godliness and contentment. We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling for God is at work in us. Pursuit of godliness is marked by cultivation of personal holiness – devotion to God’s Word, prayer, fellowship and breaking of bread shows a Christian who is waiting expectantly for that Great Day. When you start slacking in these matters, you have lost sight of the end.
The impetus for this waiting is that we shall see Him as He is in His glory. Then we shall understand what it cost Him to ransom us from slavery and bondage of sin. But if you want this to be a reality, then you will give diligence and hard work into it and say like Paul, “…by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” 1Cor. 15:10. If this will not be true of you then you will be ashamed of having had Christ give so much to make you His prize and yet live like it meant nothing for you so that you will be rejected.
3.    We must be hastening its coming!
Peter simply says, “…what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God…”
Now, Since these things have been determined by the omnipotent and foreknowledge of God, how can you “hasten” them? What can a mortal, finite man like you and I do to engage in these grandeurs work of the coming of the day of God? Is it this the same Peter exhorted his hearers at Solomon’s Portico to do in Acts 3:19-21,
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the time for God restoring all things about which God spoke by the mouth of the prophets long ago.”
Is it not true to say that the end will come when the conditions are such that God deems fit to have the end happen? When God determines is the best time He will send His Son. The end will not come until all God’s elect have come in into His kingdom. All Israel of God –i.e. the fullness of Gentiles and the fullness of Jews, has to enter before the end comes. Right now the Lord is using His people to gather them in by the preaching of the gospel. Therefore this is the one thing that the Lord gave as an indication as to the manner we may hasten His second coming in Matt.24:14:
 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Therefore, let us hasten Christ’s coming by diligently spreading the gospel, by preaching or by supporting missionary work, and the work of the church throughout the world – in fact by everything we can do to hasten the coming.  This is an exhortation to not just be content to be a Christian who lives unconcerned for the conversion of the others. You have to labour hard in the gospel and encourage others to do the same. It also means that as a church we cannot just afford to do so little in reaching out with the gospel.

v  Consider how much time you give in securing and acquiring things of this world. Things that will soon be burned up. Consider your subtle unwillingness to look for the eternal things. Look at how you quickly make an earthly investment and yet so reluctant to invest more in the eternal things. When you look around in this church, can you see people that you have invested in, without considering what they can give in return? If there is none, start today.
v  I must point out to you with great humility that you must not expect to see the glorious Son at the Day of His appearing if you live a lazy Christian life… if you are a lazy and idle life, then you push away the glory that is coming. If you want to be the work that others do then you will be very disappointed that Day. If you are always the one to be exhorted and rebuked by others… diligence NOT negligence is what is needed.
v  Are you going down in your pursuit of holiness? What is your reaction to this message of the second coming of Christ and the end of all things? Are you depressed/distressed or disappointed that if Christ comes today, He will ‘spoil the party’ so to speak so that you will not enjoy your career, your marriage, your family, your retirement, etc. or are you looking forward to it, preparing and even hastening its coming?

v  Brethren, we must labour hard both as a church and individually (in the contest of this local church that the Lord has placed us) to proclaim the gospel. Let us not just be content to proclaim His death until He comes by the Lord’s Supper. We must be willing to take this great and good news to the world and make Christ known. We are in this area Donholm, Savanna, Greenfields, Sunrise, Umoja – the people who live here need to hear the gospel. Why should they not hear it from us? This is the task that the Lord has given us

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Do You Have Freewill?

The Arminian view insists that sinful man still has a free will.  This view teaches that any man has the ability, any time he chooses, to do the good that God commands, especially to repent of sin and believe in Christ.  They do believe that as a result of Adam’s sin the whole race also fell, and inherited a corrupt nature (= original sin); but also through the death of Christ a grace, which is called “prevenient” (because it precedes), has been given to all men to make everyone able to choose Christ.  (This is the thinking behind ‘ALTER CALL’). This is the most common view today and people will react with horror if you suggest there is no such thing as free will.  They do not know that at the time of the 16th Century Reformation Martin Luther wrote, The Bondage of the Will, which he regarded to be at the heart of the Reformation controversy.
How would you answer the Arminian teaching?  What does the Bible teach about the will of men now?  Is there such a thing as “prevenient grace”?  It is a philosophical assumption because Arminians believe that if God commands something we must be able to do it.   But consider the choice of a ‘very good’ Adam to eat from the forbidden tree instead of the tree of life!
May I point out to you the fallacy of freewill!
1.     Man’s will is not free in his birth – you do not choose your parents, place etc. do you?
2.     Man’s will is not free as regards his health, for who would ever choose to be sick?
3.     Man’s will is not free as regards accidents, for many accidents—sometimes even fatal accidents—happen to even the most careful people.
4.     Man’s will is not free concerning the circumstances of life, for many people are thwarted in their ambitions and plans.
5.     Man’s will is not free concerning his intellectual ability, for all men would like to be intellectual giants!
6.     Man’s will is not supreme in the acquisition of material possessions, forever can choose to be poor?
7.     Man’s will is not free in his relations with his fellow creatures, for laws are often passed which restrain the individual’s will. Prisons prove this.
8.     Man’s will as a natural being, apart from the grace of God, is not free, for the Scripture expressly declares that the natural man is taken captive by the devil "at his will" (2 Tim. 2:26) and so he is a slave to sin.
9.     Man’s will is not free in the matter of salvation, for he cannot be saved any time he pleases, as John 1:13; James 1:18; John 6:44 etc. teach. Not only so, but if man’s will were as free as he likes to boast, then he could be saved, not only any time he pleased, but also under any circumstances, and even without any help from the Lord! Yet this is not the truth.
10.  Man’s will is not even free as a Christian, for of all people, the believer’s will is always subject to God’s will. See Acts 16:6-10. Not only so, but according to Galatians 5:17, the fleshly nature still exerts such a force upon the believer that he often "cannot do the things that you want to do." The evil nature of the flesh is a potent force, even preventing the renewed will from functioning as it desires to do!
11.  Man’s will is not free concerning death, for few even are permitted to choose the hour of their death, and many would-be suicides are thwarted in their attempts to take their own lives, and they live on to rejoice that they were withheld from their own attempted self-destruction. " No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death. " (Eccl. 8:8).

God created man in His own image. Man possesses a mind that allows him to think rationally, not by sheer instinct like an animal. Man also possess the heart, or emotion that enables him to feel, unlike a robot or machine, human experience. The will, or volition, enables him to make decisions and choices that have moral consequences. It is his capacity for action, a capacity that allows him to choose this over that and those instead of these.
However, man in his unfallen state, man was good and very good. Yet even in this state man chose to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil against God’s command, when he could have eaten of the tree of life (that did not have God’s prohibition and that had his eternal good! Now with this Fall man fell into a state of sin and misery. This fallen state left man’s being affected in every one of his faculties. Man’s mind, by virtue of his fallen nature was darkened, incapable of understanding the things of the Spirit of God (Romans 8:7; Ephesians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 2:14). Further, his emotions are now deceptive and untrustworthy (Jeremiah 17:9) and his will, that is, his ability to choose good over evil and right over wrong, is bound in this condition of bondage to sins. The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith reads,
"Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation, so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to commit himself, or to prepare himself thereto.”

So, is man free? If by the word "free" one means that people have the ability to make certain choices on their own (i.e. free from compulsion, force, or coercion), then the answer is "yes." For example, people have the ability to choose to go to church or to a pub or stay home. You were free to come to the MF or not, you are free to stay or leave – those are your choices. People are free to act according to their nature.

If by the word "free", however, one means free without any limitation, then the answer is "no." People are not free to act contrary to their nature. I cannot choose to fly. My will, is not entirely free. It is bound by the limits of my nature. We do not have the freedom to be anything we are not.
 Man, in other words, is not free to act outside the boundaries of his human nature. He cannot live the life of a lion in the Tsavo or fly like a bird in the air without external resources enabling him to duplicate his natural environment. Just as that is true on a natural level, it is also true on a spiritual level. In his fallen state, man cannot choose to be righteous. The Ethiopian cannot by his own willpower, change the color of his skin, nor the leopard his spots. Neither can those whose nature is depraved voluntarily do good (Jeremiah 13:23). Man’s will is enslaved to his sinful nature. Left to himself, his only capacity is fleshly. 
Unregenerate people are not free to choose righteousness or wickedness; they are, on the contrary, "free from righteousness" (Romans 6:20) and will only choose wickedness. By nature, man’s will is a "will not" (Psalm 10:4; Psalm 58:3; John 5:40, Isaiah 26:10). His only inclination is toward carnality. The natural man will never choose anything but sin, because he cannot operate outside the parameters of his sinful nature (Romans 8:7). The nature of man’s will is not free. 
Not until his nature is changed does he have the desire or the capacity to choose righteousness. Regeneration by God’s Spirit is what makes the necessary transformation in man. Prior to God’s work of regeneration in the soul, man’s will is bound by the old nature. In regeneration, the fallen sinner is made "willing in the day of God’s power" (Psalm 110:3). He is given a new nature, a righteous nature, capable of responding to God. Because the old nature is not eradicated, however, a warfare between the Spirit and the flesh ensues (Romans 7) - requiring deliberate and decisive efforts of the will for righteousness (Romans 6:11-23). In other words, the believer must choose, every day, between the options of serving sin or righteousness (Joshua 24:15; Romans 6:13). With such a conflict facing us, we should be glad that the Holy Spirit will continue to work within us "both to will and to do His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
 Because man’s will, apart from the new nature given in the new birth, is bound, it is incapable of choosing eternal life. Man’s only hope of eternal life, then, is rooted in God’s initiative and choice. Salvation, in other words, depends on God’s choice, not mine, and upon His sovereign will, not man’s fallen will (John 1:13; Romans 9:16; Ephesians 1:5,11; Hebrews 10:10).

The ‘will’ is the faculty of choice; it does not act independently.  Would you in your right mind choose to drink poison if you know it is poison and if you are afraid that it will kill him?  Impossible!  How is it possible that a sinner will choose Christ if his heart is unclean, if he does not understand the things of God, if he hates the light (John 3:19-20)?  Everyone chooses according to his nature.
The Bible is so clear that the will of man is not free to choose Christ:
1.      But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13
2.      The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
3.     So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Romans 9:16). This clearly teaches that the will of man is not the cause of salvation.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12-13) Christian living depends on God working in us to will and to work for His good pleasure. For this reason Paul said that by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 1Cor. 15:10
·       We are all created for God’s glory, not for our own, and we shall never have peace, joy and contentment until we achieve the purpose for which we were created – to glorify and enjoy God forever!
·       Because of God’s gracious dealings with the sons of men, we occupy a glorious position as the born-again sons of God.
·       We ought to glorify God for His grace that places us in such an exalted position.

·       May this humble us so much that we will only want to exalt the glory of God.