A Prayer of General Thanksgiving – Book of Common Prayer

September 9, 2010 § Leave a comment

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men. We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Ch for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful; and that we show forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

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Atonement and Common Grace

August 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Dr. R. Scott Clark has written and article on this very subject that has been published in Table Talk.
http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/atonement-and-common-grace/
It is worth a read.

If anyone is interested in reading on this subject more, a large amount of primary source material can be found at the following website.
http://calvinandcalvinism.com/

Blessings,
Terry W. West

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John Davenant on the Relationship Between Predestination and the Conditions of the Gospel

August 24, 2008 § Leave a comment

In the following section John Davenant is answering the objections of the semi-pelegian to absolute predestination.

“Unto all these and the like inferences and opinions we answer briefly three things. First, That Predestination is absolute not because it intendeth the bring of any man unto eternal life without performing the conditions which God in his most gracious decree of Election doth as absolutely and certainly ordain men unto saving grace as unto everlasting glory. Secondly, That in the Divine Predestination there is always included a prescience of the faith and perseverance of all such as are elected: yet so, that this prescience is not the antecedent motive unto their Election, but this foreseen faith and perseverance is a consequent fruit or effect of the Divine Election. Lastly. That there is a decree conditional established by God concerning mans salvation, namely, That if any man repent, believe and persevere, he shall most certainly be saved. But we say it is an abuse of the Word, to call this the decree of God’s Election or Predestination. For the truth of this decree may stand good and firm though no man living should believe or attain unto eternal life. But the Divine predestination or Election is such a decree as infallibly in some men produceth faith, and bringeth unto eternal life a certain number of persons known only unto God himself.”

Source: John Davenant Animadversions p.15&16

John Davenant (A.D. 1572-1641)

Our Just and Merciful God

April 3, 2007 § Leave a comment

Ezekiel 18:22-13, 22 None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. 23 Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?

In Ezekiel chapter eighteen the people of Israel were accusing God of injustice.(Ezekiel 18:1-2) They were claiming their innocence of guilt and the injustice of God for punishing them for sins they did not commit. God rebukes them through the prophet, and declares the standard by which He judges men and the grounds of his mercy.

To summarize the chapter, God teaches Israel that each man stands alone before his law, that if he has keep the law and done righteously he will surely live and not die, but if he has transgressed the law and done wickedly he will suffer the penalty of the law and surely die.(Ezekiel 18:3-18 )

In verse 19, the people were complaining that even though they were innocent God was judging them for their father’s sins and was not accepting their repentance and righteousness. God rebukes them and declares that if they have indeed obeyed then they will surely live, and thus exposes their falsehood. He shows them clearly that his justice and mercy are both grounded in his good intentions toward his people.

I believe that we can infer from verses 22-23 that God gives his law to his people from his good intention that they reflect his holiness by the keeping of that law. The giving of this law is not out of pleasure for enacting the penalty, but rather out of his intention that his people reflect his holiness. The apostle Paul, in Romans 7:10, makes this statement:

10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.

Paul teaches us that the law was intended to bring life, but because of our sin it brought death. If the giving of the law to God’s people was intended to be for their good, i.e. so that they would by keeping the law reflect God’s holiness and goodness, then certainly God would provide mercy to the wicked man that repents of his wickedness and turns to God. If the giving of the law was intended to bring life, then certainly the death of the wicked can bring no pleasure to God. A God who intends the well being of his creatures by giving his law would certainly grant mercy to those who repent of their transgressions and desire to live. So we can see that both justice and mercy are grounded in God’s good pleasure and kind intention towards his creatures.

Blessings in Christ,

Terry W. West

The Offer of Salvation in the Command to Repent

March 21, 2007 § Leave a comment

Act 17:30&31, “30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

1. What is offered in the command to repent?

Some of the very first words we have recorded of Jesus in the gospels are, “Repent and flee the wrath to come!” Is not the command to repent then an offer of salvation from that wrath to come, that day appointed that God will judge the world? Certainly it is. But how can we be saved? Is it repentance alone that gets us forgiveness and grants us an escape from that awful day? Certainly not. But, rather it is a man that is our salvation. A man that mediates between God and men. The man that Paul is referring to in the text above, i.e. Jesus Christ.

How is it that in this man we can find salvation if we repent? What is it about this man that makes salvation possible to those who are commanded to repent? Paul answers these question this way in Romans 8:3&4,

“3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

This man, who is truly a man, possesses the same nature that is common to all men, sin excepted. So that by this man’s obedience many are made righteous (Romans 5:19). This man obeyed and then suffered the penalty for disobedience on the cross, and then was raised from the dead to demonstrate his power and success in accomplishing this work for a fallen world in need of a savior.

So, the command cannot be viewed as a mere declaration, but as a sincere offer of salvation, from the wrath that is deserved and promised to be poured out on the ungodly, to all that will repent and embrace the work of this man in their place.

2. What is the condition of those who hear the command?

The bible describes for us the depravity of those who hear this command, the wickedness of those to whom this offer of salvation is made. In John 1:11, we read that Jesus came to his own and they did not receive him, even though he is the creator of the world, the world rejects him. In the same book, three chapters later, Jesus said to Nicodemus, “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (John 3:20) Also, In Romans chapter one we read that men have exchanged the glory of God for the profane, that men by nature hate God, and have no fear of him and will not seek him (Romans 3:10-18).

3. What is the result from the command?

So, what is the result in those that hear the command? Paul describes the result in 2 Corinthians 2:15&16,

“15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?”

In some it brings life, in others in brings death. In those, that God works effectually in their hearts, to draw them to Christ (John 6:44), it results in their salvation, but in those that are left to their own evil wills, they believe not, their hearts are hardened even more, and will be judged for refusing the “bread from heaven…that gives life to the world.” (John 6:32&33)

Both the saving of some and the hardening of others results from either the embracing or the refusal of that which is suitable or sufficient to save those who hear the command, i.e. the satisfaction of God’s justice offered in the command to repent. This is why the despising of the goodness of God that leads to repentance causes the severity of the wrath to be stored up for the wicked on that day (Romans 2:4).

4. Upon what grounds is the salvation offered in the command?

The command to repent, therefore, is founded upon the suitableness or sufficiency of the means of salvation, i.e. Christ satisfaction. So, even the severity of the hardening of the reprobates heart, resulting from their rebellion against the command, and refusal of the offer of salvation, can only be understood if that means of salvation is suitable/sufficient for them as well.

The world will be judged, on that day of wrath appointed, by that man, Jesus Christ the Son of God, whom the Father sent from heaven as the bread that gives life to the world. Rejection of him is the refusal of that which is provided for the salvation and reconciliation of the whole human race, therefore God commands all men, everywhere to repent.

Blessings in Christ,

Terry W. West

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