Faith And Conduct

Amos 5:21-24

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Among six key themes (from ESV Global Study Bible) of the book of Amos, two stands out for me.

1. Justice and righteousness in the treatment of other people are the key evidences of a right relationship to the Lord.
2. Religious observances in the absence of social justice are disgusting to God.¹

I find these two key themes present in the verses that follow. God says;

I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen (Amos 5:21-23).

Today, many profess faith but their profession contradicts their conduct. Should that be the case? Where profession of faith and conduct contradicts, there is a justification to question what one professes. Could it be possible that God has rejected many gatherings supposedly assembled in the name of God and yet we are unaware? Could it be that God has turned his ears away from our worship and considers many a congregations singing noise yet they haven’t discerned it?

How would we know if our worship is acceptable to God? I believe the answer is in the next verse: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24). Where our life is not marked by justice and righteousness—a right treatment of one another and right conduct; our salvation may be questionable. Our Lord commands us to love one another and to not love the world (1Jn. 2:9-17). Paul says “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers , and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing (1cor. 13:1-2).

You see, our faith and conduct are insperable. If we have faith, it must show in our conduct: “But be n doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves”!(Jam. 1:22).

Notes:
1. Introductory notes on Amos from The ESV Global Study Bible (Wheaton, Illinois:Crossway, 2012 ) Kindle edition

 

Did God Actually Say?

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Recently, there has been a rise of people in our country–Ghana– openly calling the claims of Christianity into question. Core doctrines such as the virgin birth, Heaven, Hell and the historicity of the person of Christ have all been called to question. The troubling part of this, is that, those involved are people we may consider influential in society and their influence has the ability to lead people astray.  Of all the religions of this world, why do these people pick on Christianity and the Bible? Numerous answers may be given. But I will briefly explore two.

Christianity Is The Truth

Christianity is the Truth: “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). One may ask, “how can Christianity lay exclusive claims to the truth; isn’t that arrogance? Andy Bannister, in an online article, “Isn’t Christianity Arrogant?” addressed the Truth of Christianity by appealing to the exclusivity of the nature of truth itself.  Matt Slick, on the apologetics website carm.org also appealed to the words of Jesus to establish the true nature of Christianity:

If Jesus is wrong, then Christianity is  wrong. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then we should abandon our faith because he would be no different than anyone else. If Jesus is not God in flesh, then we should denounce him as a madman because you can’t claim to be God and be sane — unless the claim is true. Therefore, if what Jesus said about himself is true, then Christianity is true.

Now, granted Christianity is true (and it is), the devil, an opponent of Truth described by Jesus as the father of all lies; will do everything to attack the Truth of God’s word. Any false religion promoting his agenda will have uninterrupted success. Why will the devil bother to attack false religion? He will waste no ammunition in attacking false religion. It will be harmful to his cause: “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?” (Luke 12:17-18).

The way out then is to rise against true religion. And what he attacks in Christianity is the very word God has spoken. This is the devil’s oldest weapon—calling the word of God into question. In the Garden of Eden, he asked: “…Did God actually say…” (Genesis 3:1).

Do you see the similarities today? “Did God actually say…sinners will be punished in hell? “Did God actually say Christ is the only way to the Father? Did God actually say Christ will return again? Did God actually say we should live holy lives? Did God actually say Jesus rose from the dead? Did God actually say…?

If you will call anything about Christianity into question, be sure it is a questioning which will lead to a better understanding of the faith. If yours is to question the veracity of the claims of Christianity, be careful you are not taking sides with the devil and questioning what God has said.

They Are Spiritually Dead

One thing we are sure of of those who challenge and refute God’s true word  is that they are spiritually dead: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1Corinthians 3:14). It takes hearts regenerated by the Spirit of God to comprehend spiritual truth. And until a person’s heart is regenerated, the word of God is foolishness to them.

In fact the Bible declares “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1). Fool here doesn’t mean the one who questions or call God’s word to question is a dimwit. Far from it. Actually, some of these people are very intelligent. The fool, as used in the text simply means an “impious person who has no perception of ethical or religious truth

We may all not be professionals trained to defend the faith. Yet, in our own small way, the Bible calls us to contend for the faith (Jude 1:3). And to contend for the faith demands we at least know the basics of what we believe. Peter tells us “…in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1Peter 3:15). We can’t stop people from questioning what we believe. But we must be ready always to defend our faith.

When they ask “Did God Actually Say…? we must be ready to respond gracefully.

The Deity Of Christ

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John 5:15-29

In a world of religious plurality, every religion and religious leader makes some claims. Of all the claims, Jesus’ were the most astounding. He made many exclusive claims no religious leader ever made. And that got Him killed.

He claimed to be God.

This claim sets Him apart from all other religious leader who ever lived. And if the claim to be God is false, then, it is blasphemous and Jesus cannot be trusted. Looking therefore at the gravity of His claims, either Jesus is God or He is not. There is no middle ground as C.S. Lewis says in his popular work, Mere Christianity:

Either this man[Jesus] was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God

Lord Over The Sabbath

In the opening text, a controversy over the identity of Christ occurred when He healed a man on the Sabbath (vv. 1-9). In verse 16, John tells us this miracle “…was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath“. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day added their own human traditions to the law and with these they sought to keep God’s people in bondage. Their interpretation of the Sabbath forbided doing good to our neighbour. They overlooked  God’s command of love towards ones neighbour. Jesus elsewhere asked them: “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:11-12).

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5) and His words “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” (John 5:17) brings that out in clear terms. God doesn’t cease working because of the Sabbath. He is actively involved in running His world and taking care of people. The world is not on auto pilot. There is a God at work in sustaining and directing the course of the world. Christ says He is this God.

Christ’s Deity

When Jesus said “My Father is working until now, and I am working”, the Jews who heard Him clearly understood what He meant when He called God His Father and this exacerbated their resolve to kill Him:

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God (v.18).

Now, apart from the charge of breaking the Sabbath, Jesus was also charged with “making himself equal with God” and they understood His claim to be a claim of Deity. Church history is littered with many controversies over the person of Jesus Christ. The Nicea council, for example, in opposition to the arianian heresy which claims Jesus was a created being; stated that “Jesus is begotten, not made, and that His divine nature is of the same essence (homo ousios) with the Father”. ¹ R.C. Sproul explains that

This affirmation declared that the Second Person of the Trinity is one in essence with God the Father. That is, the “being” of Christ is the being of God. He is not merely similar to Deity, but He is Deity”²

One place we see the divinity of Jesus in the text is His assertion of His worthiness of honour just as the Father is worthy of honour: “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him”. (vv. 22-24). Jesus is worthy of our worship–honour, just as we honour the Father. You can’t claim to honour or worship God and yet claim to not honour Jesus Christ or accept the claims He made about Himself. To honour God, you must also acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God who was sent by God to die for the salvation of sinners (John 3:16). Again, to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God is to acknowledge Jesus as God. He is God who was manifested in the flesh (John 1:14)

The Unity of the Godhead.

The doctrine of the Trinity is a fundamental Christian doctrine which speaks of God in three persons who are co-equal and co-eternal in existence. While defending Himself, Christ reveals to us the unity which exists in the Trinity: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise (v.19).

Divine work is Trinitarian in nature and the Godhead is in agreement in all they do. The Father works and Christ works. We see this from creation and in the work of Salvation. In Salvation, we see the active participation of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Salvation is Trinitarian: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). As we read further on in Ephesians, we see the Father predestined those who will be saved in the Son. The Son dies for those the Father predestined and then the work of the Son is applied to the heart of the elect into Salvation. Christ tells us He doesn’t work alone. What the Father, who is God does; the Son, who is equally God also does. Christ doesn’t work independently of the Father neither does the Father or the Holy Spirit. Because they are One, they always work in unison.

No claim offends religious people than the claim of Christ’s Deity. But for the Christian, any departure from the Deity of Christ is a departure from truth and from Biblical Christianity.

Notes:

1: R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith ( Kindle Edition)

2: ibid

The Sovereignty Of God In Salvation

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In John 5:1-9 , we are introduced to a miracle Jesus performed on a man, who the Scripture tells us has “been an invalid for thirty-eight years”. He has been waiting for a miracle that long. There was, then, a popular belief among the Jews, of an event where an angel stirs up a pool and anyone who steps in first receives a miracle. This however is discounted not to be a part of Scripture but a myth people believed:

The material about an angel of the Lord stirring the water and bringing healing appears in some early manuscripts, but not the earliest. Thus v. 4 should not be considered part of Scripture. Still, v. 7 (which is in all manuscripts) shows that people believed something like what v. 4 reports.¹

This invalid, we are told, has been waiting to enter the pool when it is stirred. But there is a challenge. Because of his paralysis, others always step ahead of him. Remember according to the myth, it is the first sick person who steps into the pool that gets healed when the pool is stirred. This miracle, as we will see shortly points us to some truths about how God works in the salvation of sinners.

Firstly, we see the helplessness of sinners to save themselves. The Bible teaches that all human beings are sinners. Naturally, we are dead in sin and separated from God. Because of our spiritual death, we are bereft of the ability to draw close to God by ourselves. We are dead in sin and dead people cannot give themselves life. They can only remain dead (Psalm 51:5, Ephesians 2:1, Romans 3:10-19, John 6:44). The picture we see clearly points us to the truth of humankind’s inability to save themselves.

Note that the man’s sickness was a result of sin: “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”(v.14).  This is true in a general sense: All sicknesses have their root from sin. Sin brought the punishment of death on the human race ( Genesis 3:16-19, Romans 8:18-23 ). It is also true in a particular sense in that some sicknesses are directly related to particular sins and are God’s way of discipline and chastisement of his children (1Corinthians 11:27-32). Not all sicknesses are a result of particular sins (John 9:1-3).

As the story unfolds, the man’s inability emerges clearly. While Jesus extends a hand of healing, the invalid man utters a statement pointing to His inability: “Sir , I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” (v.7). That invalid is like us. Without Christ, we can do nothing. Without Christ, we are dead in sin deprived of eternal life.

Secondly, we come face to face with the reality of God’s  sovereignty in salvation. We are told when Jesus saw the invalid man, He knew the man has been at the pool for a protracted length of time (v.6). This speaks of a divine attribute. Christ is Omniscient. He knows all things. He knew the invalid has been there for long. Of great interest also is the “…multitude of invalids— blind, lame, and paralyzed [ lying by the pool] (v.3). In spite of this, Jesus attended particularly to this one man. He didn’t heal everyone though He could have. God saves sinners according to His divine prerogative ( John 1:12-13, Romans 9:11-16).

Finally, the narrative teaches us that God brings sinners to faith through His word. In John 6:63, Jesus said “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life”. There is life in Christ’s words. The narrative records that, Jesus commanded the invalid “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” (v.8). There is power in Christ’s word. It has life. The effect of Jesus’ command—His word— is  worth noting:

…at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked (v.9).

The invalid by Christ’s word was healed. But more than a need for physical healing; what we need most is spiritual healing—forgiveness of our sin and reconciliation to God. Like the man in this story, Christ asks you: “Do you want to be healed?”(v. 6).

Note

1: The ESV Global Study Bible (Crossways, 2012) study note on John 5:3 [kindle edition]

Who Is Jesus Christ?

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In a week away, we will be celebrating Christmas; a day Christians commemorate the birth of Jesus. Christians are divided on whether to celebrate Christmas or not. The debate ranges from whether He was born on 25th December and also of the pagan origins of Christmas. Inspite of these many disagreements , however, one point of agreement between believers is that Jesus did live as a historical figure–He was born. To answer the question who is Jesus Christ? we must admit there are a phletora of opinions about who Jesus is and those opinions can be right or wrong. R.C Sproul, in the The Ligonier Statement on Christology, opens with these words: “Nearly every adult person has formed some opinion of Jesus. These opinions may be superficial, uninformed, or downright heretical. The truth about Jesus, not mere opinion, matters…and it matters eternally”.

Who Is Jesus?

I will here turn to John Chapter One to address the person of Jesus. The book of John as a gospel differs in many ways from the synoptic gospel . John’s gospel relates to us the life, teachings and miracles of Jesus—and people’s response; just as the other gospels. However, John does this with theological depths the other gospels didn’t. As you read through John’s gospel, you continuously see themes of Jesus’ divinity scattered all over the pages of his gospel though at the same time, He was fully human. J.C. Ryle rightly commented:

The Gospel of John… is in many respects very unlike the other three Gospels. It contains many things which they omit. It omits many things which they contain… The things which are peculiar to his Gospel are among the most precious possessions of the Church of Christ. No one of the four Gospel-writers has given us such full statements about the divinity of Christ — about justification by faith — about the offices of Christ — about the work of the Holy Spirit — and about the privileges of believers, believers, as we read in the pages of John. On none of these great subjects, undoubtedly, have Matthew, Mark, and Luke been silent. But in John’s Gospel, they stand out prominently on the surface, so that he who runs may read” [1]

The Testimony Of John’s Gospel About Jesus

He Is God

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God (vv.1-2).

Jesus didn’t begin to exist at a certain period in history. Neither was He created. Christ is eternal. He transcends time and history. John designates Christ as the Word in his opening statements: “In the beginning was the Word…” (vv.1-2). This speaks of the pre-existence of Christ before Creation. “In the beginning [He] was….” Before creation, Christ existed: “…he is before all things…”(Colossians 1:17 see also John 8:56-57). Now, John doesn’t only tell us of the eternal and pre-existence of Christ. He also spoke of the divinity of Christ–Christ is God: “…the Word was God”(v.1). This clearly speaks of the divinity of Christ. He is God. In Christ the words  “Immanuel” (which means, God with us) (Matthew 1:23) is fulfilled. Again in John 8:57, Jesus used the title by which God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush–I Am: “before Abraham was, I am.” “”Here Jesus declared Himself to be Yahweh, i.e., the Lord of the OT. [2]

He Is The Second Person Of The Trinity (Son of God).

…and the Word was with God (v.1a).

In John 1:1, we notice Jesus was not alone. The word was with ‘Somebody’ and that person we are told was God. Further, we are told Jesus shares attributes with that person, i.e., He Jesus was God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This is the heart of the great historic doctrine of the Trinity [3]. Scripture reveals God to us as One being in three persons; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit: “Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. [4] In Matthew 3:16-17, we see a full revelation of the Trinity when Jesus was baptised. We are told the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove with a Voice from heaven saying this is my beloved Son. Clearly, the eternal union of God the Father with God the Son is captured in the words: “He was in the beginning with God” (v.2). In John 17:5, Christ spoke of the glory He had with the Father before the world existed.

He Is The Creator

All things were made through him…(v.3a).

All of Creation owes its existence to Christ: “…without him was not anything made that was made (v. 3b)” He is the King of kings and Lord of Lord’s over all of life. Nothing exists outside of the creative work of Christ: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). When we trace our path back to the beginning of the Bible, we are told “In the beginning God created…”. Looking at this in light of John’s words, we see Christ as the Creator.

He Is Life And Light Of The World

In him was life and the life was the light of men (v.4).

As the Creator, all lives take their source from Christ. Without Christ, no one has life. Paul says in Acts 17:28 that “In him we live and move and have our being”. This depicts Christ as the Sustainer of all lives. “He upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). Christ is both the natural source of life and the spiritual source. Spiritually, all human beings, without a saving knowledge of Christ are in darkness, that is, living in sin and separated from God. This interprets to mean they are dead without light. But Christ gives life which dispels darkness and brings light into the life of anyone who comes to Him in faith.

In v.10, we are told “He was in the the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him” (v.10). The question is, “Why”?  It is because the world is dead spiritually and separated from God. Paul says in 1Corinthians 2:14 that “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned”. To know Christ and receive Him requires a spiritual work. One has to be regenerated by the spirit to come in faith. When this happens, we are brought into God’s family by faith in Christ: “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” (vv.12-13).

He Is The God-Man

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (v.14).

Core to Christian beliefs is the virgin birth of Christ. He “was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary” Perhaps, done of the most contested doctrine of Christianity is the nature of Christ —his divinity and humanity ‘fused’ together in One person called–hypostatic union (see also Historic Heresies Relating To The Nature of Jesus). Jesus is fully God and fully human. God took on human flesh in Jesus Christ. He became the God-man among His creation: He “dwelt among us”. He became man and lived among His own people (1John 1:1-2).

God walked among humanity in Christ and manifested His glory: “we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son” God’s glory—the radiance of His majesty and power was revealed through Christ. “The Son, the Word–who is eternally with the Father, face to face with him, gazing upon and enjoying the glory that emanates from him– has now become flesh in our fallen world”.[6]

When Jesus was born, we are told “an angel of the Lord appeared to [shepherds watching over their flocks by night], and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Luke 2:9).

Jesus is superior over all others and the book of Hebrews describes Him as “…the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature”(Hebrews 1:3). In His glory, Christ reveals to us “grace and truth”. His coming to earth was to show us the grace of God towards humanity and lead us into the truth of God’s word.

He Is The Lamb Of God

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!(v.29).

Here is one of the most important truths to know about Christ. He is the Lamb of God. The Jewish reader will immediately understand what John The Baptist was saying when he described Christ as the Lamb of God. In Old Testament rituals, the Lamb without blemish was used to atone temporarily, for the sins of God’s people (Exodus 12:3, Leviticus 3:7). Now the rituals of the Old Testament pointed to a better sacrifice for sins because as the Hebrew writer will say: “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). The efficacy in the blood of bulls and goats was powerless to do away with sin once and for all. But Christ, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”(John 1:29) offered an acceptable sacrifice to God for the atonement of sin once for all (Hebrews 10:10). Christ is God’s acceptable sacrifice for sin.

He Baptises With The Holy Spirit

So far, our attention has been on the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. But all of God’s revelation of Himself is Trinitarian. So here in John 1, John doesn’t leave us without telling us of the Holy Spirit through the words of John the Baptist: “…He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit” ( John 1:33). Jesus baptises us with the Holy Spirit. This means, when we come to faith in Him, He gives us the gift promised by the Father. Without the Holy Spirit, no one can be a believer (Romans 8:9). And the Holy Spirit joins us in union with the Godhead.

These are not exhaustive statements about Christ. But I believe these are basic stepping stones to an in-depth study of Christology–the doctrine of Christ.

Notes:

  1. J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Kindle Edition).
  2. John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible. Notes on John 8:58 (Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2006, Kindle Edition).
  3. John Piper, In The Beginning Was The Word (online article Read here).
  4. James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity, (Bethany House Publishers, 2012, Kindle Edition).
  5. Sinclair B. Ferguson, Child In The Manger (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth, 2016) Pg.35

Total Depravity: For All Haved Sinned.

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In the previous article, I mentioned the doctrines of grace acronised as TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace And Perseverance of the Saints) and further explained with a quote that “Reformed Christians believe that all five of the doctrines of grace are derived directly from the Scripture and that the acronym TULIP accurately describes the Bible’s teaching on soteriology—the doctrine of salvation”¹.

I did an unusual thing by first explaining the last petal in the TULIP; P (Perseverance of the Saints). Today, I will do an explanation of the first ‘petal’ T, which is Total Depravity.

You may have heard a charge of bigotry against Christianity for declaring Jesus is the only way to heaven. People have pressed further to say there are good people living charitable, philanthropic lives and based on that, they can make it to heaven. The sad reality however is that, there are no good people on earth. The Bible condemns all as sinners. In Romans 3:9-10, Paul says “For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one”. Further on in v.23, he says  “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. John also puts it this way: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (John 1:8). Anyone who says they are without sin is living in self-deception. That’s the point of John 1:8.

The origin of our sin is explained by the Bible as springing forth from Adam’s disobedience of God’s command: “…of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”(Genesis 2:17). Adam disobeyed, he ate and the sentence for disobedience; physical and spiritual death was pronounced. In Adam’s fall, all humankind fell and were declared sinners: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

All I have said so far is what Total Depravity is. We are all sinners: “As a result of Adam’s fall, the entire human race is affected; all of Adam’s descendants are spiritually dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1, 5). Calvinists are quick to point out that this does not mean that all people are as bad as they could be. Rather, this doctrine says that, as a result of man’s fall in Adam, all people are radically depraved from the inside and that their depravity affects every area of their lives”. ²

G.K. Chesterton, quoted in an online article on Original Sin said “Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved,” (Orthodoxy, chap. 2) ³. You see, what he means here is that the sinfulness of humankind is not difficult to prove. The empirical evidence is all around us. Just look into your heart and life. Sin stares you in the face doesn’t it? On this grounds, no one stands the chance of acquittal from God on their merit. The only means God has provided is through Jesus Christ who offered Himself as a sin sacrifice to appease God’s wrath towards humankind. Come to Him in faith or you will perish in your sins:

I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins. (John 8:24).

1: https://www.google.com.gh/amp/s/gotquestions.org/amp/doctrines-of-grace.html

2: ibid

3: http://www.theopedia.com/original-sin

Perseverance Of The Saints: Assurance Of Salvation

fb_img_1475583156578There is what is called doctrines of grace amongst those who hold to Reformed Theology or Calvinism. Reformed Theology or Calvinism is nothing strange. Just as some describe themselves as Pentecostals or Charismatics, Reformed Theology or Calvinism is a branch of Christianity with specific beliefs from Scripture.

The doctrines of grace is acronised as TULIP: “Reformed Christians believe that all five of the doctrines of grace are derived directly from the Scripture and that the acronym TULIP accurately describes the Bible’s teaching on soteriology—the doctrine of salvation”[1]TULIP as an acronym represents: Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace And Perseverance of the Saints. A study of what these represents can begin from here.

Here is a brief explanation of the last letter of TULIP–P which is the focus of this article.

Perseverance of the Saints – The particular people God has elected and drawn to Himself through the Holy Spirit will persevere in faith. None of those whom God has elected will be lost; they are eternally secure in Him (John 10:27–29; Romans 8:29–30; Ephesians 1:3–14). Some Reformed theologians prefer to use the term “Preservation of the Saints” as they believe that this choice of words more accurately describes how God is directly responsible for the preservation of His elect. It is clear in Scripture that Christ continues to intercede for His people (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). This continues to provide believers with the assurance that those that belong to Christ are eternally His. [2]

Now, when I first became convinced of Reformed Theology, one of the doctrines of grace I grasped quickly was the last letter P–Perseverance/Preservation  of The Saints. Some nickname it “Once Saved Always Saved” with a smirk of negativity though. Why I so quickly grasped it could probably be because I have had my own battles with doubt about my salvation and was desperately seeking for assurance to know I was indeed saved. What a joy to discover I couldn’t lose my salvation if indeed I was saved.

Assurance of salvation is the believer’s right and every believer must be “…the more diligent to confirm [their] calling and election” (1Peter 1:10). That said, it is crucial we don’t give ourselves and others false assurances of salvation if indeed we are not saved. The basis of assurance is for those “who are in Christ Jesus”. It is not for those outside Christ. For those in Christ, there is no condemnation. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1). So first things first. A sinner must be saved before they can have any assurance of salvation. Though when saved, they might have seasons of doubt.

When we are saved, we must bear fruit. Yet, we  don’t have to look at ourselves for assurance of salvation. Our human emotion is too frail and a bad barometer for measuring our assurance of salvation. What must be done? Look to God in His word. Seek and dig the word of God for your assurance because it is in God’s world we are told we are sinners and how we need to be saved and possess salvation.

Regardless of your feelings of doubt about your salvation, if you are truly saved, be assured “that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). If you have it, that is, if you are saved, you can’t lose it. The believer is eternally secure.

Notes

1: https://www.google.com.gh/amp/s/gotquestions.org/amp/doctrines-of-grace.ht

2: ibid

Recommended reading

1: Five Points Towards A Deeper Experience of God’s Grace by John Piper

2: Chosen By God by R.C. Sproul

3: Chosen For Eternity by John MacArthur

4: For Calvinism by Michael Horton

Other resources can be accessed from monergism.com a reliable place for Reformed resources