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Archive for the ‘Sanctification’ Category

Disinherited Children

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Joan Crawford, the famous movie star of several decades back, left some of her children out of her will. She was not the first to do so, nor is she likely to be the last. It is the right of parents to disinherit a child or children if they choose to do so. Let it be observed, however, that such disinherited children do not cease to be the children or offspring of the withholding parents; they simply are left out of the will, cut off from receiving any of the estate.

Can—and will—God ever disinherit His children? One of the major tenets of Calvinism is “Perseverance of the saints,” which avers that if one chances to be among the elect of God he can never do anything sinful or evil enough to fall from God’s grace and lose his eternal inheritance. However, those who will read the New Testament with glasses that are clear, rather than with those colored by Calvinistic dogma, will discover a plethora of passages that teach otherwise, for example.:

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James 1:1–15—Testing Our Faith

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Introduction

Life is a testing ground, a time of probation. The tests, trials, and challenges come in many forms and from many sources. Some are easily recognized because they are so painful. Others may be difficult to recognize because they are not only painless, but they offer reward and/or produce pleasure.

We read no further than the second verse of the epistle of James before we learn that it is addressed to God’s people who are being tested and tried. Anyone who has lived as a Christian very long can readily identify with the experiences described and addressed in James 1; the tests to our faith seem to come quite frequently. In fact, one who strives to live faithfully will find that life is almost one temptation, test, trial, and tribulation after another, because one is a Christian.

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Do You Love Jesus?

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The apostle Paul lent significance to the question above as he wrote: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema…” (1 Cor. 16:22). Anathema means “accursed,” thus under the condemnation of God. He earlier explained that love for others is defined by action, rather than merely by words (13:4–7; cf. 1 John 3:18). This principle is no less true regarding one’s love for the Christ. The New Testament provides some benchmarks by which we may gauge our love (or lack thereof) for God and His Son.

  • We must not love the world: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). The World here is not the earth or its inhabitants, but the behavior of a world separated from God by sin. Most people live for themselves rather than to honor Jesus. There is no love of Him in such lives.
  • We must love one another: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar…” (1 John 4:20a; 2:9). While brother here refers to fellow-Christians, every other human being is a “brother” in the human family. As God loved all mankind (John 3:16), so should we. Love for others is not necessarily affection or close association, but seeking their best interests—even of our enemies (Mat. 5:44).
  • We must love the things He loved. Those who claim to love Jesus and to abide in Him “ought…to walk even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). If one does not love Truth, righteousness, or the souls of men he is a hypocrite to claim to love the Lord Who loved all of these. One who says, “Jesus yes, but the church, no,” confesses his lack of love for Jesus; He “loved the church, and gave himself up for it” (Eph. 5:25).
  • We must keep His commandments: “If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments” (John 14:15; cf. 21). This simple test is the all-embracing one, separating the sincere/serious disciple from the pretending hypocrite. Although theologians have sought to strip almost every vestige of law or authority from the Gospel, these words of Jesus remain unchanged. He further emphasized the necessity of obedience in the same context: “He that loveth me not keepeth not my words…” (v. 24a). As Jesus drew His Sermon on the Mount to a close, He said: It is not those who merely call Him “Lord,” but those who obey the Divine will, who will be saved (Mat. 7:23). Jesus offers eternal salvation “unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9).

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Man, Woman, and Marriage

[Note: This MS is available in larger font on our Brief Articles page.]

One either believes the Bible to be God’s revelation of Himself to men, or one does not. God does not (and no man can) force anyone to accept the Bible as such. One, however, ought not to profess such belief if one is unwilling to accept what it says without seeking to alter it. Popularity, agreement with my notions, convenience, political correctness, nor any other factors affect or determine the meaning of its words to the genuine believer.

Whether or not one believes the Bible to be God’s Word, he should be honest enough to let the Bible say what it says. One forfeits any claim of integrity when he knowingly twists Biblical statements (2 Pet. 3:16) so as to make them appear to teach other than what they teach (often making the Bible thereby contradict itself). This statement applies equally to professed believers and to infidels. Countless times each day presumptuous men seek to make the Bible say what they want it to say/teach (rather than what it obviously says/teaches) in an effort to justify a position, creed, bias, or agenda.

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FOUR HEARTS

            The title above doesn’t refer to a “hand” in a card game. Rather, it relates to Jesus’ parable about a farmer who sowed seed in his field (Luke 8:5–15). Of the thirty or so parables He told, this is one of the very few that He explained in detail. He tells us plainly: “The seed is the word of God” (v. 11), thereby implying that the “sower” is one who teaches God’s Word. The four kinds of “soils” represent the various kinds of human hearts into which the Gospel may fall. Let us examine them briefly:

  • “The Wayside” describes paths that ran through the unfenced Galilean fields and were packed by the feet of travelers. Seeds that fell thereon remained on the surface, and birds soon devoured them. Jesus said that this soil represents hearts that do not “understand” the Word (Mat. 13:19). That is, their hearts were as hard concerning the Gospel as the wayside soil was concerning the seed. Some have such closed minds toward God, His Son, and the Bible that they refuse all the evidence testifying to their existence and/or genuineness. The devil will waste little time taking the Word from them.
  • “The Rock” (“rocky places”—Mat. 13:5, 20) describes thin topsoil on top of bedrock. Thus the seed enters the soil, germinates, and sprouts, but promptly withers and dies because its roots cannot penetrate the rock and find necessary moisture. The Lord said this soil represents the receptive, impulsive, albeit shallow heart that joyously embraces the Gospel and “believes for awhile.” Not having counted the cost of discipleship, when temptations or persecutions arise, these “fall away” for lack of root.
  • “The Thorns” describes soil that is not cleared in preparation for the seed. The seed germinates and sprouts, but thorns overpower and starve it. This is the heart that has not repented of various “thorns” of behavior (i.e., “cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life”). Such competing influences for our time, energy, and money leave us spiritually starved and will prevent our bearing any spiritual fruit.
  • “The Good Ground” describes soil that is open for the seed, has depth, and has been cleared of competing influences. This, said Jesus, is the “honest and good heart” that belongs to one who will hear (i.e., obey) the Word, “hold it fast,” and produce manifold fruit. The key word here is “honest,” for no heart can be good that is not honest.

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