Summary for Doctrine

Election.
Knowing God.
God.
Call of God.
Adoption.
Grace despite sin.
The Holy Spirit.
Sin.
Grace.
Faith.
Eschatology – the Second Coming.
Church.
Anthrology.

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Election.

ELECTION.

Meaning. To elect is to choose for oneself. Its beginning is in the Old Testament. God chose people for a covenant relationship. Deut ch 4 v 37. Deut ch 7 v 6-8. Deut ch 10 v 15.
Application. The choice involves privilege and responsibility. Sometimes there is only a remnant. Others were chosen for a specific office. Moses, Samuel, Jeremiah, the Apostles etc. Jesus was chosen as a mediator. The believers are chosen for a different purpose. 1 Pet ch 1 v 2. 1 Pet ch 2 v 4. 1 Pet ch 2 v 9-10. Believers are in no doubt that they are chosen by God. The elect are marked off from false believers. The effective call came through the Gospel. Election and conversion come together in practice but election precedes conversion in theology.

The believer’s election is in Christ. Eph ch 1 v 4. Jesus was elected to be the head of the Church and believers are only co-workers with Christ. There are levels of election. Man is a believer because he is chosen and not chosen because he is a believer. Eph ch 1 v 4 does not say that a man is chosen because he is in Christ – simply he is chosen in Christ. Rom ch 3 v 23. It is God’s plan throughout. The Father has given Jesus the promise that there will be a Church – a people sent by God to Jesus and kept by his power. It is Jesus who is the way to God and not God who is the way to Jesus. ” He who has seen me has seen the Father.” Believers are drawn against a natural resistance – dragged in spite of their rebellion, desiring to be established by their own righteousness. God pulls people out of darkness, rebellion and unbelief into His Son – into light, belief and faith.

Purpose. Election is that eternal act of God whereby He, in His sovereign good pleasure and on account of no foreseen merit in them, chooses a certain number of men to be the recipients of special grace and of eternal salvation. It is eternal, unconditional and irresistible and renders the salvation of the elect certain. It is His purpose that certain individuals should believe and persevere to the end. The purpose of election is to bring glory to God. Col ch 3 v 12. Believers are chosen to bring into the World the virtues and values which it desperately needs. They are servants – Eph ch 1 v 4 – so that they should be holy and blameless before God. Everything is in it for them, but the emphasis is to bring glory to God. God therefore has witnesses in the World. Election is an expression of the sovereign will of God and is His divine pleasure. God can and does exert such an influence on the human spirit as to make it willing to serve God.

God chooses on whom He will have mercy. There is no question of unfairness. All deserve nothing, since all have sinned. Others He allows to become hardened in their sin. The potter can make what He likes with the clay. Jer ch 18 v 5. God would have been perfectly just, if He had not saved any. God has been patient with sinful man. Paul explains the reality of the Gospel and says the same thing as Jesus does. God’s call to Israel was not to be realised in the whole nation of Israel but only in the true Jew who was circumcised on the heart. Not all of Abraham’s natural children are children of faith. There is no reason why God chose Jacob and not Esau. Man must simply accept what God says and not twist it round. Esau could have asked for mercy and asked God to forgive his treating his spiritual inheritance lightly. Rom ch 1 v 18. Since man did not see fit to retain the knowledge of God, God gave them up. They could not be bothered with doing the right thing, even though they criticise others for doing the very thing they are doing. In His wisdom and grace He chose Jacob. God chooses to set His love on people. It is all mercy and not justice. If man asks for justice he only brings on himself condemnation. All he can do is to ask for mercy. If God does anything for sinful man it is pure mercy. We do not bring to God anything, which He has not given us in the first place. If God left mankind to itself the World would quickly descend into abject misery. Man is prone to wander from the ways of God, is reluctant to praise Him, is indifferent to His Word, is cold in prayer and is reluctant in witness. The unbeliever rejects the doctrine of election, while the immature believer does not fully understand it. Modern man thinks that he is pretty good, despite all his faults. He thinks that he is a pretty good chap and that God agrees with him. The thought that he is fit only for condemnation never enters his head.

” Why should God allow any to enter Heaven? ” That ought to be the question and not
“ Why does God allow people to go to Hell?” If God chooses to extend His grace to some, there can be no complaints. Believers pray for others knowing that only God can do what they cannot do. Human responsibility lies alongside divine sovereignty. An antimony is an apparent incompatibility between two apparent truths. Man cannot see how the two are fitted together, but yet each is true. How does man reconcile evangelism with election? ” Election is the doctrine I am called to believe. Evangelism is a command I am called to obey.” John Blanchard.

Knowing God

KNOWING GOD.

The Lord saw this day and has been planning for it for several years at least. He saved me at the age of 35 and showed me right away that you only retain 4 % of the spoken word. So I started taking notes. Then I realised that these hand-written notes would be no use if I died. So I bought a computer to store the notes. There is really little interest in Britain but I felt compelled to make the notes, even when I could not see the use for them. The Lord invited me to Uganda. He teemed me up with John Mugerwa. It was John’s idea to start the Bible School. I printed the notes and he arranged for their translation and for the Bible School. I never could have imagined that this would be possible. But I hung onto my belief that God had not asked me to prepare notes for nothing. So today is an important moment in my life.

What do you intend to do with the knowledge about God which you have acquired? There is a danger that, if we acquire knowledge about God for its own sake, it is bound to make us feel proud and conceited. We can easily feel superior to those who do not have such knowledge. Often others will be content to set us on a pedestal. ” Pastor you know about God. You pray for us.” And we can be tempted by Satan to feel just a little bit pleased with ourselves. The alternative is to use the knowledge we have acquired to help others to know God for themselves. The Scottish Catechism starts of this way – What is the chief end of man? Answer – To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. This is not a new situation. Paul writing to Timothy in chapter 6 v 21 of First Timothy gave Timothy some sound advice. ” Keep out of foolish arguments with those who boast of their knowledge of God and thereby prove their lack of it. Some of the people have missed the most important thing in life – they don’t know God personally.”

When we come to the master science – theology – we find that our plumb line cannot sound its depth. You will never finally graduate. There is no finite end to a relationship. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect and nothing will so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. It is true that there can be no spiritual health without doctrinal knowledge.

God takes people onto His staff as co-workers. Whether being a servant is a matter for shame or for pride depends on whose servant one is. It is a matter of pride to be a servant of the living God. Knowing God means accepting His invitation and obeying His commands. Those who accept His invitation are loved and cared for by Him. For the Disciples the sense of allegiance and privilege, which the knowledge of Jesus brought, transformed their whole lives. Knowing Jesus still remains as definite a relation of personal discipleship as it was for the Twelve on Earth.

Knowing God involves personal dealing with Him. To get to know another person it is necessary to commit yourself to him and to be ready to identify yourself with His interests. Matters become a common concern.

Idolatry. An image of God conveys no idea about His moral character, goodness, patience or righteousness. It displays human weakness and conceals His divine strength. His glory is precisely what it can never show us. God is jealous to maintain His own glory. Images mislead men and convey false ideas about God. God speaks and reveals Himself through His Word and through His Son. He who has seen Jesus has seen God. Jesus was full of grace and truth.

Those who know God show great boldness for God. We ought to obey God rather than men. Acts ch 5 v 29. The Disciples were clear as to what they personally had to do.

Those who know God have a great contentment in God. Jesus invited men to accompany Him. He invites us to testify to the World that we have known God.

What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is eternal life? Knowledge of God. John ch 17 v 3. Hos ch 6 v 6. I desire the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. What higher, more exalted and more compelling goal can there be than to know God. God allows us to know Him by revealing Himself to us in His Word. Hebrews ch 1 v 1-3.

We are cruel to ourselves, if we try to live in this World without knowing about the God whose World it is and who runs it. Disregard the study of God and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded. Our aim of studying the Godhead is to know God Himself better.

God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. One of the best definitions of God penned by man.

What do I intend to do with the knowledge of God, when I have acquired it? If I pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it will make me proud and conceited.

Does not every child of God long, with the Psalmist, to know just as much as he can about His Heavenly Father?

Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things which one knows about the works and ways and purposes of God.

We can know a great deal about God without really knowing Him. There is a difference between knowing God and merely knowing about Him. Moving from the duty of religion to the joy of a personal relationship.

Those who know their God are sensitive to situations in which God’s truth and honour are being directly or tacitly jeopardised and, rather than let the matter go by default, will force the issue on men’s attention and seek thereby to compel a change of heart about it – even at personal risk. Dishonour to God’s name goads us into action. The believer rejoices when God’s name is vindicated.

Knowledge about God can make us conceited and proud. Yet there can be no spiritual health without doctrinal knowledge. Every child of God longs to know as much about His Heavenly Father as he can learn. Our ultimate concern is with knowledge and service of our great God. One can know a great deal about God, without much knowledge of Him. Also one can know a great deal about godliness without much knowledge of God. It is possible to hardly know God at all. There is a world of difference between knowing about God and knowing Him.

Those who know God will have great energy for God and shall be strong and do great exploits for God. Dan ch 11 v 32. The dishonour done to God’s name should goad them into action. Those who know their God are sensitive to situations where God’s name is dishonoured and take personal risks to force their views on the situation.

Those who know God have great thoughts about God. History is His story. He is in control of the affairs of men. He is working out a great plan. He will have the last word, both in World history and in the destiny of every human being. Neither men nor angels will be able to thwart him.

History is no more than His story – the unfolding of His eternal plan and the Kingdom, which will triumph in the end is God’s. He will have the last word, both in World history and in the destiny of every man. Neither men nor angels will be able to thwart Him.

What were we created for? To know God. What higher, more exalted and more compelling goal can there be than to know God?

People cover up and do not show everybody all that is in their hearts. Our knowledge of them is more directly the result of their allowing us to know them, than of our attempting to get to know them. It is they, not we, who decide whether we are going to know them or not.

Taking Joseph from prison to become Pharaoh’s prime minister is a picture of what God does for every Christian. From being Satan’s prisoner, he finds himself transferred to a position of trust in the service of God. Whether being a servant is a matter for shame or pride, depends on whose servant one is.

Knowing Jesus still remains as definite a relation of personal discipline as it was for the twelve when He was on Earth. To get to know another person, you have to commit yourself to his company and interests and be ready to identify yourself with his concerns. So it is with God.

God knows me. I am graven on the palms of His hands. There is no moment when His eye is off me, or His attention distracted from me and no moment therefore when His care for me falters. He is personally responsible for me.

Images dishonour God once they obscure His glory. Images mislead men, because they convey false ideas about God. They falsify truth about God in the minds of men. God’s glory is precisely what pictures cannot show. God’s jealousy in the Bible is His zeal to maintain His own glory. We were made in His image – not He in ours.

Man is compelled to take his thoughts about God from His own holy Word and from no other source.

Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is the truth of the incarnation that God became a helpless baby. Jesus was no less God than He was before He was born. Jesus took humanity without loss of deity. Jesus was as fully divine as He was human. If Jesus was God the Son, it is much more startling that He should die than that He should rise again. The incarnation is in itself an unfathomable mystery, but it makes sense of everything contained in the New Testament. The baby born at Bethlehem was none other than the eternal Word of God made man. The baby was God. He who made man was now finding out what it felt like being man. Jesus was tempted by the angel He had created, who became the Devil. He could not avoid being tempted as a man.

As a man, Jesus was learning to know what it felt like to be man. The perfection of His human life was only achieved by conflict with the Devil.

There is no Scripture supporting the idea that the Son of God shed any aspect of His deity.

As in Heaven, so on Earth, the Son was utterly dependent on the will of His Father.

As God the Son, it is more amazing that He should die than that He should rise again.

Jesus was the original comforter. The Holy Spirit would come to continue this side of His ministry. Having sent the eternal Son into the World, the Father then recalled Him to glory and sent the Spirit to take His place.

Many Christians have really no idea what difference it would make if there were no Holy Spirit in the World.

Nobody can prove the truth of Christianity save the Holy Spirit by His own almighty work of renewing the blinded heart. Without the Spirit there would not be a single Christian in the World.

God hates the sins of His people and uses all kinds of inward and outward pains and griefs to wean their hearts from compromise and disobedience, so as to detach their love for other things and attach it to Himself. God teaches the believer to value His promised gifts by making him wait for them, and compelling him to pray persistently for them before He bestows them.

What God does in time He planned in eternity and all that He planned in eternity He carries out in time.

Living becomes an awesome business when you realise that you spend every moment of your life in the sight and company of an omniscient Creator.

Wisdom is the practical side of moral goodness. We cannot recognise God’s wisdom, unless we know the end for which He is working. His wisdom is always active and never fails. God’s purpose in creating man was that man should love and honour Him, praising him for the wonderfully ordered complexity and variety of the World, using it according to His will and enjoying both it and Him.

God made man in His own image – He made man a free spiritual being, a responsible moral agent with powers of choice and action, able to commune with Him and respond to Him, and by nature good, truthful, holy, upright i.e. godly. Since God is wise in Himself, He imparts wisdom to man. Man must first learn to revere God and seek to receive wisdom through God’s Word. Truth is seeing things as they really are. Truth and wisdom are friends and go together.

The harder you try to understand the divine purpose in the ordinary providential course of events, the more obsessed you grow with the apparent aimlessness of everything, and the more you are tempted to conclude that life is as pointless as it looks. The God who rules the World hides Himself. Rarely does the World look as if a benevolent providence were running it. Often what is worthless survives, while that which is valuable perishes.

God in His wisdom, in order to make and keep us humble and to teach us to walk by faith, had hidden from us almost everything that we should like to know about the providential purposes, which He is working out in the Churches and in our own lives. If for the moment God hides His hand, we can trust Him and rejoice in Him, even when we cannot discern His path.

God is the absolute monarch of the Universe, ordering all its affairs, working out His will in all that happens within it.

An absolute ruler will enact regulations and laws, which directly determine the environment – judicial, fiscal, cultural – within which the subjects must live. He will make public speeches to establish a personal link between himself and his subjects and to evoke from them the maximum support and co-operation in the things he is doing. The Bible pictures the Word of God doing something very similar. Though God is a great king, He does not want His subjects to live at a distance from Him.

Truth is seeing things as they really are. Truth and wisdom are friends and go together.

God’s commands warn us against moral self-destruction. Our bodies disintegrate, if we feed them poisonous substances. The same happens to our souls, if we feed them immorality. Our souls were meant to run on the practice of worship, law-keeping, truthfulness, honesty, discipline, self-control and service to God and our fellows. If we abandon these practices, not only do we incur guilt before God, but we progressively destroy our own souls. Conscience atrophies, the sense of shame dries up, our capacity for truthfulness, loyalty and honesty is eaten away and our character disintegrates.

It is not possible to argue that God, who is love, cannot also be a God who condemns and punishes the disobedient. Sentimental ideas of His love as an indulgent, benevolent softness, divorced from moral standards and concerns, must be ruled out from the start. God’s love is holy love.

God has no physical body and is therefore free from all limitations of time and natural processes and remains eternally the same. The love of God is a spontaneous determination of the whole of God’s being in an attitude of benevolence, freely chosen and firmly fixed. God’s love is a holy love not based on emotions.

Goodness is that perfection in God, which prompts Him to deal bountifully and kindly with all His creatures.

Those who truly love are only happy when those whom they love are truly happy also. God has voluntarily bound up His own final happiness with those whom He loves. The measure of love is how much it gives.

Grace. God’s riches at Christ’s expense.

Modern man’s way is to turn a blind eye to all wrongdoing as long as he can. God is not true to Himself, unless He punishes sin. Wrongdoers have no natural hope of anything from God but retributive judgement.

Religious man, while conceding that he is not perfect, still has no doubt that respectability from now on will guarantee God’s acceptance of him in the end, whatever he may have done in the past.

Justification is the truly dramatic transition from the status of a condemned man awaiting a terrible punishment to that of an heir awaiting a fabulous inheritance.

The prophets spend a good deal more time preaching judgement than they do predicting the Messiah.
In the Bible, the king was always the supreme judge, because he was the supreme authority.
God will see that each man sooner or later receives what he deserves – if not here, then hereafter.

Would a God who did not care about the difference between right and wrong be a good and admirable being? Moral indifference would be an imperfection in God, not a perfection.

It is unthinkable that the present conflict between good and evil should last throughout eternity.

Men will render account for every careless word they utter. In every case the judge of all the Earth will do right.

The gift of justification shields believers from being condemned and banished from God’s presence as sinners but it does not shield believers from being assessed as Christians and from forfeiting good which others will enjoy, if it turns out that as Christians they have been slack, mischievous and destructive.

Wrath is deep, intense anger and indignation. Wrath is an attribute of God. There are more references in the Bible to the wrath of God than there are to the love of God. The Bible labours the point that just as God is good to those who love Him, He is terrible to those who do not.

Wrath suggests a loss of self-control, an outburst of indignation, which is at least partly irrational. It would be wrong to ascribe to God such an attitude.

God’s love never leads Him to foolish, impulsive, immoral actions in the way that its human counterpart does. His wrath is never the capricious, self-indulgent, irritable, morally ignoble thing that human anger often is. Would a God, who did not react adversely to evil in this World, be morally perfect? His wrath is always judicial – administering justice.

God’s wrath in the Bible is something, which men choose for themselves. Adam chose to hide from God, before God drove him from the Garden. Sinners call down God’s wrath upon themselves. The judge of all the Earth will do right. Men are given up to their own preferences. They have free choice.

Between us sinners and the thunder-clouds of divine wrath stands the cross of the Lord Jesus. Jesus delivers believers from the wrath to come. God detests sin and must act against it.

Because people tend to follow their own religious hunches, rather than learning from the Word of God, they are in the habit of disassociating the thought of God’s goodness from that of His severity.
God’s goodness is seen in His offer to men of the exalted destiny of fellowship with Him in holiness and love.

The Santa Claus theology renders sin no problem and atonement needless.

Generosity means a disposition to give to others in a way, which has no mercenary motive and is not limited by what the recipient deserves. It consistently goes beyond it. Generosity expresses the simple wish that others should have what they need to make them happy.

We can distinguish between common grace in creation, preservation and all the blessings of this life and special or saving grace, manifested in salvation. All men benefit from the former but not men all are touched by the latter. God is good to all in some way and to some in all ways.

God controls all that happens in His World: every meal, every pleasure, every possession, every bit of sun, every night’s sleep, every moment of health and safety, everything else that sustains and enriches life, is a divine gift.

Behind every display of divine goodness stands a threat of severity in judgement, if that goodness is scorned.

God has borne with your faults, the very faults, which you regard as meriting His judgement when you see them in others, and you should be very humble and thankful.

Those who decline to respond to God’s goodness by repentance, and faith, and trust, and submission to His will, cannot wonder or complain if, sooner or later, the tokens of His goodness are withdrawn, the opportunity of benefiting from them ends, and retribution supervenes.

If God puts thorns in your bed, it is to keep you from falling into the somnolence of complacency. He does not feather-bed His children.

The patience of God in giving space to repent before judgement finally falls is one of the marvels of the Bible story.

God’s zeal is praiseworthy zeal to preserve something supremely precious.

God demands from those whom He has loved and redeemed utter and absolute loyalty and He will vindicate His claim by stern action against them, if they betray His love by unfaithfulness. Like a husband, God demands love and chastity from us, so that we do not prostitute our souls to Satan.

The goal of the covenant love of God is that He should have a people on Earth as long as history lasts and after that should have all His faithful ones of every age with Him in glory.

Our right response to His jealousy over us is zeal for Him. Zeal in religion is a burning desire to please God. God’s jealousy threatens Churches, which are not zealous for God.

The Bible condemns paganism out of hand as a monstrous distortion of truth. Man’s desire should be to please God.

The idea of propitiation – that is averting God’s anger by an offering – runs through the Bible. A gospel without propitiation at its heart is another gospel. Wrath is a personal quality, without which God would cease to be fully righteous and His love would degenerate into sentimentality.

God’s wrath is the holy revulsion of God’s being against that which is the contradiction of His holiness.

God is not just unless He inflicts upon all sin and wrongdoing the penalty it deserves. It was God who Himself took the initiative in quenching His own wrath against those whom, despite their ill-desert, He loved and had chosen to save.

God is not just unless He inflicts upon all sin and wrongdoing the penalty it deserves. It was God who Himself took the initiative in quenching His own wrath against those whom, despite their ill-desert, He loved and had chosen to save.

Though men, since the flood, have been no better than their fathers before the flood, God has not reacted to their impenitence and irreligion and lawlessness by public acts of adverse providence. This is not forgiveness but only postponement of judgement.
If God allows sinners to continue unpunished, does He not Himself come short of perfection in His office as Judge of all the Earth?

By sin the New Testament means, not just social error or failure in the first instance, but rebellion against, defiance of, retreat from, and consequent guilt before God the Creator; and to sin, says the New Testament, is the basic evil from which we need to be delivered.

It is only when we have fully grasped the truth of propitiation that we see the entire Bible in perspective.

Jesus assumed absolute authority in everything He said and did.

Jesus’ Messianic mission was centred on His being put to death. The driving force in Jesus’ life was His resolve to be obedient unto death.

Universalism is the doctrine that, among others, Judas will be saved. Jesus did not think so. Mark ch 14 v 21.

The peace of God is first and foremost peace with God. It is the state of affairs in which God, instead of being against us, is for us.

A Christian is one who has God for his Father. The New Testament shows God as the Father not of all men but of those who, knowing themselves to be sinners, put their trust in the Lord Jesus as their divine sin-bearer and master and so become Abraham’s spiritual seed.

The gift of sonship to God becomes ours not by being born but being born again.

I am: it is because God is what He is, that everything else is as it is. ” I am ” proclaims God as self-existent, sovereign and wholly free from constraint by or dependence on anything outside Himself.

The whole spirit of the Old Testament religion was determined by the thought of the holiness of God. It was fear of the Lord. The New Testament stresses the boldness and confidence with which believers may approach God.
God intends the lives of believers to be a reflection and reproduction of Jesus’ own fellowship with Himself. Adoption is the highest privilege the gospel offers.

Justification is a forensic idea, conceived in terms of law and viewing God as a judge. It does not of itself imply any intimate or deep relationship with God the judge. Adoption, however, is the idea of a family. The reigning monarch adopts waifs and strays to make princes of them.

In God’s family there is absolute stability and security. The parent is entirely wise and good. The child’s position is permanently assured. As our Maker is our Father, so our saviour is our brother. The newly adopted children should show the family likeness in all their conduct. The Father is always accessible to the children and is never too preoccupied to listen to what they have to say. All His children are loved as much as Jesus is loved.

God does not always give us what we ask for in prayer. Often He gives us what we should have asked for.

We are all tempted sooner or later to put status and security in human terms before loyalty to God’s call.
Paternal discipline exercised through outward pressures and trials helps the process of sanctification along. Sometimes the chiselling process is painful and the discipline is irksome.

In this World, royal children have to undergo extra training and discipline, which other children escape, in order to fit them for their high destiny. It is the same with the children of the King of Kings. god, the King, wants His royal children to live lives worthy of their paternity and position. God is looking for a bride for His Son. Jesus wants to be married to mature adults and not spiritual babies.

Have I learned to hate the things, which displease my Father? Am I sensitive to the evil things to which He is sensitive? Do I make a point of avoiding them, lest I grieve Him?

It is a sign of conceit and immaturity to dispense with taking advice in major decisions. God sends trials and difficulties in order to enable us to grow spiritually. Welcome them. Peter could say this from painful experience. God wants us to rely on Him and not to trust in ourselves. Those who never make mistakes, never make anything.

J. I. Packer. Knowing God. CHAPTER 13 The Grace of God

It is a commonplace in all the churches to call Christianity a religion of grace. It is a truism of Christian scholarship that grace, far from being an impersonal force, a sort of celestial electricity received like a battery charge by ‘plugging in’ to the sacraments, is a personal activity, God operating in love
man-wards. The Greek New Testament word for grace (charis), like that for love (agape), is a wholly Christian usage, expressing a notion of spontaneous self-determined kindness, which was previously quite unknown to Graeco-Roman ethics and theology. Grace is God’s riches at Christ’s expense. Yet there do not seem to be many in our churches who actually believe in grace.

To be sure, there have always been some who have found the thought of grace so overwhelmingly wonderful that they could never get over it. Grace has become the constant theme of their talk and prayers. They have written hymns about it, some of the finest in the language -and it takes deep feeling to produce a good hymn. They have fought for it, accepting ridicule and loss of privilege if need be as the
price of their stand; as Paul fought the Judaizers, so Augustine fought the Pelagians, and the Reformers fought scholasticism, and the spiritual descendants of Paul and Augustine and the Reformers have been fighting Romanising and Pelagianising doctrines ever since. With Paul, their testimony is,
‘By the grace of God I am what I am'{l Cor.ch 15 v 10) and their rule of life is, ‘I do not frustrate the grace of God’ . Gal ch 2 v 21. But many church people are not like this. They may pay lip-service to the idea of grace, but there they stop. Their conception of grace is not so much debased as non-existent. The thought means nothing to them; it does not touch their experience at all. Talk to them about the Church’s heating and they are with you at once. But speak to them about grace and their attitude is one of deferential blankness.

Modern man, conscious of his tremendous scientific achievements in recent years, naturally inclines to a high opinion of himself. He views material wealth as in any case more important than moral character, and in-the moral realm he is resolutely kind to himself, treating small virtues as compensating for great vices and refusing to take seriously the idea that, morally speaking, there is anything much wrong with him. He tends to dismiss a bad conscience, in himself as others, as an unhealthy psychological freak, a sign of disease and mental aberration rather than an index of moral reality. For modem man is convinced that, despite all his little peccadilloes -drinking, gambling, reckless driving, ‘fiddling’, black and white lies, sharp practice in trading, dirty reading, and what have you – he is at heart a thoroughly good fellow. Then, as pagans do (and modern man’s heart is pagan – make no mistake about that), he imagines God as
a magnified image of himself, and assumes that God shares his own complacency about himself. The thought of himself as a creature fallen from God’s image, a rebel against God’s rule, guilty and unclean in God’s sight, fit only for God’s condemnation, never enters his head.

2. The retributive justice of God
Modern man’s way is to turn a blind eye to all wrongdoing as long as he safely can. He tolerates it in others, feeling that there but for the accident of circumstances goes he. Parents hesitate to correct their children, and teachers to punish their pupils, and the public puts up with vandalism and anti-social behaviour of all sorts with scarcely a murmur. The accepted maxim seems to be that as long as evil can
ignored, it should be; one should only punish as a last resort and then only so far as is necessary to prevent the evil having too grievous social consequences. Willingness to tolerate and indulge evil up to the limit is seen as a virtue, while living by fixed principles of right and wrong is censured by some as
doubtfully moral. In our pagan way, we take it for granted that God feels as we do. The idea that retribution might the moral law of God’s world, and an expression of His holy character, seems to modem man quite fantastic: those who uphold it find themselves accused of projecting on to their own pathological impulses of rage and vindictiveness. Yet the Bible insists throughout that this world which
in His goodness has made IS a moral world, in which retribution is as basic a fact as breathing. God is the Judge of all the Earth and He will do right, vindicating the innocent, if such there be. But punishing law breakers. God is not true to Himself unless He punishes sin. Unless one knows and feels the truth of this fact, that wrongdoers have no hope of anything from God but retributive judgement, one can never share the Biblical faith in divine grace.

God

THE DOCTRINE OF GOD.

Theology is the systemised knowledge of God. God exists and has revealed Himself in His divine Word. Faith in God is not blind but is based on evidence and the evidence is found primarily in Scripture as the inspired Word of God, and supported in God’s revelation in nature. Heb ch 11 v 6. “He who comes to God must believe that He is and that He rewards those who seek after Him.” God is seen on almost every page of the Bible as He reveals Himself in words and actions. Those who deny God’s existence are in two categories. 1. Practical atheists are simply godless persons, who live as if there was no God. Theoretical atheists are of a more intellectual kind and base their denial on a process of reasoning. They attempt to prove that there is no God. Since God made man in His image no one is born an atheist. The fool is not a wicked person and may even be a decent person but is one who is indifferent to spiritual things. Pantheism merges the natural and supernatural, the finite and infinite into one substance. As a result God is not seen as distinct from His creation. Theism has always regarded God as an absolute personal being of infinite perfection. Most of those who reject the theistic view of God still profess faith in God, but He is a God of their own imagination and one who does not demand allegiance or obedience. Among all peoples and tribes of the Earth there is a sense of the divine, who is often described as a higher being, who has made man a religious being. Man’s intuitive awareness of God is broadly confirmed by social anthropology, which recognises a virtually universal religious consciousness. Man has a universal experience of moral obligation – a sense of ought.

God can be known personally. John ch 17 v 3. Man can acquire true knowledge of God only from special revelation, under the illuminating influence of the Holy Spirit. It is only received when man wants to know God. But man can know God only in so far as He actively makes Himself known. The same is true of any human being. Unless a man chooses to reveal himself, he remains unknown. So there is natural revelation. What can be known about God can be seen in nature. However, there is supernatural revelation through angels, who are ministering servants bringing salvation to man.

A name of God becomes synonymous with God. The names of God are not of human invention but of divine origin. Every time God revealed Himself to man He gave Himself a new name, revealing part of His character and purpose. Elohim – the exalted one. Adonai – ruler. Shaddai – the powerful one. It is also a source of blessing and comfort. Yahweh – the God of grace. Ex ch 3 v 14. “I am that I am.” It reflects the unchangeableness of God.

There are incommunicable attributes of God.
A. The self-existence of God. He is independent in Himself and also causes everything else to depend on Him. Acts ch 17 v 25. He needed nothing. “I am who I am” – “I will be what I will be”. Ex ch 3 v 13-15. The name stands for God’s loyalty to His people and the infallibility of His promises.
B. The immutability of God. It is that perfection of God by which He is devoid of all change, not only in His Being but also in His perfections and in His purposes and promises as well as in His covenant. As absolute perfection, improvement and deterioration are impossible.
Mal ch 3 v 6. Rom ch 1 v 23. Jas ch 1 v 17. Heb ch 13 v 8.
C. The infinity of God. He is free from all limitations. He is absolute perfection. He is the eternal I am. He is immense. He transcends all spatial limitations and yet is present in every point of space with His whole being. He is omnipresent. 1 Tim ch 6 v 16. God is concerned for His glory. Yet He sacrificed Himself on the cross to save man. God’s purposes also aims at man’s eternal well-being as well as His own glory.
D. The unity of God. There is but one God. Deut ch 6 v 4. God is a living personal spirit. He is a spirit who transcends the entire World order, though that order depends entirely on Him. The Angel of the Lord is identified with yet distinct from God. Ex ch 3 v 2-6. The Holy Spirit is referred to as God’s personal agent. Gen ch 1 v 2. God the Lord was one yet distinguishable as three – the Father, the Son and the Spirit. The Bible presents the unique mysterious reality of one God in three – Father, Son and Spirit. As a Trinity God is fulfilled in Himself and does not need to create or redeem. Creation and redemption are acts of sheer grace, expressions of God as free, eternal love.
There are communicable attributes of God.
A. The spirituality of God. John ch 4 v 24. God is Spirit. He is a self-conscious and self-determining being. Reference to the eye of God is speaking anthropomorphically or figuratively. 1 Tim ch 6 v 15-16.
B. God is all-knowing – omniscient. Job ch 37 v 16. He is perfect in knowledge. He has foreknowledge.
C. God is truthfulness and faithfulness.
D. God is a good God and full of goodness towards His subjects. Mark ch 10 v 18.

God is love. This is the best known definition of God. 1 John ch 4 v 10. Agape love is care for an unworthy person – one who has forfeited all right to the lover’s devotion. Hos ch 3 v 1f. Holiness and love conjoin perfectly in the person and work of Jesus. As God He embodies diving holiness – separate and resistant to all sin – yet He came in love as a gracious response to man’s guilt and helplessness. God’s love is also directed to the natural World. He is interested in conservation of the species He has created. Acts ch 14 v 17.

God is glorious. Ex ch 19-24. The glory of God looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Ezekiel ch 1. Rev ch 1 v 14-16. The eyes of Jesus were like blazing fire. His face was like the sun in all its brilliance.

God is just. God’s justice is His holy will in operation. Deut ch 32 v 4. Rev ch 15 v 3. God’s wrath arises from His eternal self-consistency. All that opposes Him, He resists with a total and final commitment. Wrath is the holy revulsion of God’s being against that which is the contradiction of His holiness. Without wrath, God would cease to be holy and His love would degenerate into sentimentality. Nor is His wrath arbitrary, fitful or subject to emotion as in man. God’s wrath is working itself out in history as men reap the moral and spiritual harvest for rejecting God’s revelation. Rom ch 1 v 18f.

God is merciful. Grace is a stooping to embrace the worthless. In mercy God pardons the transgressions of people. Mercy is a costly business, because sin demands a penalty. By a covenant God freely commits Himself to deliver His people and to remain their God. The Hebrew word for grace is a covenant term implying loyal or steadfast love. 2 Tim ch 2 v 13.

God is gracious. The creation of the Universe and of man are acts of free grace and not the reqirements of God’s being. It is for God alone all that we are born and not for ourselves.

God is longsuffering. Prov ch 14 v 29. Neh ch 9 v 17. Rom ch 2 v 4.

God is holy. God’s holiness is central to His being. It is particularly prominent in the Old Testament. Holiness is that attribute of virtue of which God makes Himself the absolute standard of Himself. God’s holiness means that He is utterly pure and perfect, without any evil or sin. He is often called the Holy One of Israel. Hence Jesus calls us to be perfect – like His Father. 1 Cor ch 6 v 18f 1 Thes ch 4 v 3, 7f.

God is righteous. God’s righteousness is His holy conformity with Himself. Lack of righteousness constitutes man’s moral predicament before God and it is God’s provision of righteousness in Christ, which constitutes the heart of the Gospel of His grace. Rom ch 1 v 17.

God is sovereign. God’s will in ruling the World is the final cause of all things. God has an eternal purpose. God reigns in His universe, exalted over all other claimants to power and authority. Is ch 45 v 6.
(a) God is omnipotent. Nothing is too hard for God or impossible for God – if He wills it.
(b) God is omnipresent. Psalm 139 v 7-12. God knows and sees everything. Ps 66 v 12. Is ch 43 v 2. Acts ch 23 v 11. There is no moment before God or after Him.
(c) God is all-knowing. Rev ch 20 v 12. When the books are opened, God knows everything. If God knew only in part, His truth would be only provisional. There is no need for further revelation.
The God of the Bible is the glorious God in His unapproachable and exalted majesty, the Lord, exalted over all things and bringing all things into the service of His purpose, the Holy One, exalted and separate from sin and evil, the God of love, everlasting, grace.

Call of God

The Call of God.

In the Gospel is a call from God. The call is that act by which He calls people into fellowship with His son to conform to the image of Jesus. We become aware of the call after justification but it came at the outset before we were aware of it. Gal ch 1 v 15. Set apart before I was born – then called through grace. Only those who hear the effectual call respond.

Regeneration.

This gives the effectual call effectiveness. Regeneration is needed due to our sinful state. Without rebirth a person cannot enter the Kingdom of God. The new birth is not stimulated within a person by that person. That person is dead and cannot bring himself into life. It has to be a work of the Holy Spirit. The process is secret, inward, hidden and mysterious. The immediate response may be very faint. Adoption is our status after justification. It is the fruit of regeneration.

Penal Substitution.

Jesus Christ, our Lord, moved by a love that was determined to do everything necessary to save us endured and exhausted the destructive divine judgement for which we were otherwise inescapably destined. The idea is present in the Old Testament concept of sacrifice and the idea of ransom and price. The Levites were a substitute for the first born of the families of Israel. This idea was fixed in the minds of the Jews at the time of Christ. The whole idea of purchase speaks of one thing being given for another. Jesus’ blood was given in exchange for our lives. His blood was precious because it was His.

The idea of a penalty is necessary to anchor the model of substitution in the World of moral law, guilty conscience and retributive justice. Jesus did not just take our place but bore our penalty i.e. the crimes committed against God’s moral law. Jesus was not just the spokesman taking a lecture but He bore the actual pain. There must be satisfaction for wrong done. Justice demands it. God is determined to be true to His strict moral government of the World – the World which belongs to Him. The death of Christ was to demonstrate His justice. Although Jesus was found to be innocent the law of the land judged Him guilty. 2 Cor ch 5 v 18-21. Jesus was made to be sin. In this way God could visit the judgement due for sin on a person – that of His own dear son. Jesus became the object of the judgement. Deut ch 21 v 23. Cursed is anyone hung on a tree. One who is cursed is one who is deprived from all of God’s blessing. Jesus was made the curse. He was cut off and rejected by God – forsaken. It was the ultimate penalty in the Old Testament. The means of bringing us from under the curse is a ransom price. It was a religious penal death and not a political death. In Gethsemane there was more than death bearing down on Jesus. He knew that the curse would fall on Him. He also bore all the sins of the World. Not just those which had happened but those still to come for 2000 years. The wounds are our healing, enabling us to live to righteousness.

Sacrifice.

Heb ch 13 v 11-12. Christ is seen as the sacrifice, dragged out of the city and burnt. The bodies of animals which were used as sacrifice were burnt because they were sin itself. The triune God is involved. The judge enters the dock and takes the sentence upon Himself. It is the product of God’s own wisdom. Sacrifices in the Old Testament were costly. It may have seemed a waste of money but there was an element of trust that God knew best. It was costly to God. In slavery a person outside of the slave paid the price. Mankind could not pay the price. It was too high. The wrath of God stresses the seriousness of sin. His wrath is always exercised with a certain tenderness. It is not an uncontrollable outburst of passion but a flame which sears and purifies. It is His implacable hostility to every form of evil. God’s love is a love which is so jealous of the loved one that it blazes out in fiery wrath against everything which is evil.

The Incarnation.

The Liberal view of imitation uses the life of Jesus, becoming one of us as a human being and lifting man onto a new plane, if we follow Him. This is attractive on grounds of sentimentality. The focal point of the Gospels is the death of Jesus. Only the death took away the sin. The incarnation is always related to the saving purpose of His death. It is not the person of Jesus who saves us but His death. The incarnation does not confirm Christ as one of us, identified with us in our cursed condition. It only equips Jesus as a suitable sacrifice. The cross was envisaged from the start. The cross is the Gospel.

The obedience of Christ.

Service means obedience to a master. At every stage of His humiliation Christ was obedient to the full extent of the divine demand. The demands became more extensive and exacting as He went on to the climax of His mission. Jesus became a perfect pattern of obedience. Jesus was also a prophet in that He revealed to man God’s will concerning Himself and His death. The death was planned from the beginning. Perfect obedience embraces the whole life of Jesus. By going to the cross He confronted the curse on mankind. Jesus deliberately chose to go through with the death. He could have disobeyed right to the end. He laid down His life.

Jesus was also the High Priest who made a perfect sacrifice for the people. He was the lamb without blemish. As Adam had disobeyed, Jesus obeyed and in doing so assumed the new headship of mankind. He actively earned the right to be our representative. What He has done is reckoned to our account. The righteousness of Jesus is credited to us. As Adam’s sin was debited to us, so Jesus’ righteousness is credited to us. The priest is the representative of man to God. He alone could approach God on behalf of the people. He interceded for the people and blessed them in the name of God.

Adam could have had eternal life but threw it away. Each person would have had to have been totally obedient by himself. Now Jesus gives us eternal life though we have already sinned and even though the law of sin lives in us and we go on sinning. The first man became a living being. The last one became a life giving spirit. Jesus not only restored us to the position we were in but went beyond in securing eternal life now with the promise of life with God in the future. If Jesus had only wiped the slate clean we should have had to live sinless lives in the future in order to reach Heaven. However, Jesus imputed righteousness to us, there and then. It is all done.

Reconciliation.

This involves the removal of God’s wrath. It brings about a change of attitude in God towards us. The barrier of sin is removed. A will is only valid when a person dies. Until that date the grantor can change the will.

Redemption.

It is freedom from slavery. The price has been paid but the full appreciation has still to come, especially after death and sickness have come to an end. There is a moral delivery, free to do good works. It also frees us from the curse of the law.

Propitiation.

An averting or turning away from the wrath of God. Expiation is the removal of guilt. Wrath is the other side of love – the sterner face of love. To love good is to hate evil. They go hand in hand. God hates the sin but loves the sinner. Wrath gives way to grace. Wrath is an impersonal law of retribution. God provided Himself to divert His own anger from the object of His love – human beings.

Adoption

ADOPTION.

A status of being children of God is bestowed upon believers by the grace of God. He is their Heavenly Father – Abba. Luke ch 11 v 2. It is the apex of privilege is to be a son of God. As an example – a rich man invited a beggar into his house, forgave him, paid his debts, clothed him, put him in a credit balance and invited him to join the family. Believers are adopted now. Full glory will follow in due course. But adoption is no less real now, even though there is more to come. This is true also of justification and redemption. Rom ch 8 v 15. Gal ch 4 v 4-6. Eph ch 1 v 5. Believers have full status along with the natural Son.

Believers are one family and all others have the same status. Adoption teaches believers to see their fellow believers as brothers and sisters – each one chosen by God’s grace. Adoption means life with Jesus as an elder brother. Rom ch 8 v 15. Believers are heirs of God and co-heirs with Jesus. What father would willingly leave his children in perpetual uncertainty about their relationship to him or about their status within the family? God is pleased to give His children through His Holy Spirit a firm assurance that He has received them. The true Church is the family of God. It challenges believers to trust their Heavenly Father to meet all their needs. Mat ch 6 v 25-34. In His free grace God gives His children the right to share in the coming glory of Jesus. The New Testament presents the picture of the Church as a family or household of God. Eph ch 2 v 19. This goes hand in hand with the picture in Ezekiel ch 34 of the family of God being sheep with the true shepherd who looks after their needs. Jesus ever intercedes for His brothers and sisters. Heb ch 2 v 25.

Adoption in this way was widespread in the Roman Empire and in the Middle East. Under Roman law an adult wanting an heir could adopt a male. Israel was God’s adopted son – Ephraim. Exodus ch 4 v 22. Hosea ch 11 v 1. Once believers were sons of disobedience but now are sons of obedience.

That believers should be pardoned of sin is wonder enough: but that the pardoned rebels should become God’s very sons and daughters, installed within the intimacy of His own family circle, is surely wonder beyond wonder. Trusting the Word of God is the antithesis of self-achievement. Believers all have faith. The question is where a man puts his faith. If a man has faith in himself then the maximum, which he can achieve is in his human ability. But if a man has faith in God he is unlimited in what he can achieve. Faith in God grows like muscles being exercised. God lives in the realm of a man’s expectations. The gifts are given for service and not for personal glory. There must be love. 1 Cor ch 13 v 2. It is not a question of trust that God can do it, since all things are possible for God. Rather it is that He will do it, either because He has said that He will do it in His Word or because there is a special prophecy through a believer or a special answer to prayer.

Regeneration is the renewing of the mind and heart. Regeneration of the elect is the work of God and God alone. Regeneration is the grace, which lets the faith operate. Faith is based on knowledge or facts. Faith in Christ is based on knowledge of Him. A man needs to know the person, if he is to put his trust in him. It is necessary to know who Christ is, what He has done on the cross and what He is able to do. Faith is knowledge passing into conviction, and conviction passing into confidence in the person of Jesus. It is not faith that saves but faith in Christ.

Believing and repenting are the one process, either simultaneous or separate in time. Hatred of sin consists of turning to God. Saving faith is permeated with repentance. Repentance has to be seen as a deep-seated change of thought and attitude. There has to be total turning away from sin and a particular and concrete change of mind. It is difficult to be persistent in relation to a man’s own sins. More is known of what a man believes by his actions than by his words. Confession with the lips is evidence to the speaker and the hearer that a change of attitude to God has taken place.

Grace despite sin

God’s grace despite man’s sin. Genesis chs 3-11.

When God created the World He provided for man in every way imaginable. Yet man sinned, when Adam and Eve rebelled against God. Despite this sin a man can see the love of God. A man first catches a glimpse of it, then he sees it reflected and then it is revealed, when God makes a covenant with Noah.

When God created the World He saw that everything was very good. He made man in His own image, giving him dominion over the animals. God had planned that man should have fellowship with Him but by his pride and rebellion Adam had spoiled God’s plan and spurned His love and fellowship. God had every right to be angry and passed judgement on them and also on the very ground. He could have destroyed His whole creation there and then. However, immediately man catches a glimpse of the character of God, which is love, in that Adam and Eve did not die right away. God allowed them long life, Adam living to 930. Nothing in them merited favour from God. Blessing was freely given. They lived every instant by God’s grace.

During their lives they experienced God’s goodness. As a result of their sin they felt guilt and were aware of their nakedness before God. Yet He provided clothes for them. By clothing them God overcame the nakedness, which prevented them from coming to Him. The sinner’s shame could not be covered by his own efforts. As part of God’s judgement Adam had to work by the sweat of his brow. Instead of work being a glad co-operation with God it had become laborious and uncongenial. Yet from the land, God provided for them. Eve was to bring forth children in pain. She did have children and acknowledged that this was with the help of the Lord. Ch 4 v 1. So even this early in the story God is seen to be caring for man.

Adam’s sin was continued in Cain who killed his brother Abel. Cain was cursed and he expected to die as a result. Adam may have had to carry out the death penalty. But God allowed Cain to live and He protected him with a mark. Cain’s nomadic life was due to the goodness of God in letting him live.

In Enoch God’s grace is seen when He allowed Enoch to find favour with God. Eternal life had been lost to man. Yet God gave it to Enoch when He took him to be with Him. Meantime sin increased and the wickedness of man multiplied to the point that God was sorry He had made man. Only one man kept his integrity before God. In Enoch it is seen that reconciliation with God ultimately includes victory over death.

Grace was more fully revealed when God took the initiative and made a covenant with Noah. Man by his wickedness had earned God’s wrath. God had warned man of the consequences of sin and man had forfeited eternal life. The result of sin was death yet the sheer grace of God saved those who were faithful to Him. So God took delight in designing a means of escape for Noah and fully provided for all his needs until the flood was over. The Covenant before the flood was confirmed after it. God would never again destroy every living creature and gave the ark as a sign. Noah could repopulate the Earth with confidence. Noah had been obedient and trusted God, thereby becoming a saviour of the World. True life depends on God’s presence. Adam had it and lost it. Enoch and Noah experienced it. Yet Noah continued to sin. ch 9 v 20.

By building the Tower of Babel man demonstrated his arrogance and disregard for God. That God confused their language and scattered them for their own protection from His wrath was in itself an act of grace. This action on God’s part retarded the growth of sin and so forestalled the judgement for sin. God had a plan of redemption, which must not be spoiled again by man’s sin. God loved man but had to punish him from time to time for his own good.

The revelation to Noah was not yet the complete revelation of the grace of God. The Covenant was with the Earth and was an interim arrangement until His covenant with man. God had given signs in His dealing with Adam, Enoch and Noah that He would send one who would bruise the heel of the serpent. Gen ch 3 v 15 and one who would rescue those who were faithful to God. God’s covenant of grace had been implicit in the blessings bestowed on Adam and Eve, reflected in His dealings with Cain and Enoch and revealed to Noah. The fullness of God’s grace was yet to be revealed in the death and resurrection of Jesus who would be the Saviour of the whole World and through whom fellowship with God would be restored.

Summary.
There is un-saving or common grace and saving grace.
Without grace the World would be a place of abject misery.
All experience a measure of grace.
God came amongst His enemies in Jesus.
Adoption is without merit.
By grace God gives faith to accept the Gospel.
So often it is the least likely who respond.
God wants a holy people.
Believers are to reflect the glory of God.
A Messiah separate from His people is unthinkable.
In a mysterious way God needs and enjoys fellowship with man.
The Church is an instrument of common grace to mankind and special grace to believers.
The whole course of salvation from conversion to glory is rooted in God’s grace. Believers are totally indebted to God for His grace. They have a new status before God. Their duty is to serve God. The Church is the only organisation, which exists for the benefit of its non-members. A new heart can only be the gift of God. God is answerable to no one for the manner in which He distributes His gifts. Mat ch 20 v 16. The Christian’s every step is of grace, which is stooping to embrace the worthless.

Common grace is where God in His mercy restrains the worst affects of the Fall and renders social life tolerable for man. Add to that the grace of God as revealed in Christ through whom the image of God will be fully restored in all who believe. God’s grace in the life of a believer will attack the sin, which has been deeply rooted in him. It may appear slow and fragmentary, but it will work in him. Grace calls for a response of trust in God. His sovereign grace always operates in a personal way, never in an impersonal or arbitrary manner. ” Grace is the free decision of God, apart from all restraint and in no way compelled by man’s merit, to have mercy upon His sinful creatures, saving his people from all the effects of their sin, through Jesus. ” B. Milne.

But for His grace every man would be lost in his sins awaiting Hell and yet there is an element of decision on the part of each man, which affects his future – it is in his hands and yet it is in God’s hands. That is the mystery. The answer lies hidden in the heart of a man. Does a man really want to know God and live for Him or does he want to live for himself only, regardless of the judgement, which faces him at the end of his life? Only the individual can settle that question for himself.

There are negative consequences. There is a need to put to death the deeds of the flesh. The seeds of every known sin are in the heart of a believer. At conversion the believer does not know half of them. Many want to enjoy their sin for a little longer. A lot is said about the power of positive thinking. There is the power of negative thinking. Say “No” to sin. Say “No” to liberal theology. Say “No” to replacement theology. Jesus said it was so serious as to warrant plucking out the right eye. Of course it is the mind, which controls the hand. There is an idea in the mind before there is an action of the hand. The Holy Spirit has as one of His objectives to help a believer put an end to sin. Angels minister to the believer. The Old and the New Testaments have one difference. In the New Testament believers are able to call God Father. Son-ship means that a believer is an inheritor of Christ. In the Roman World women did not inherit – only men. So the Bible rightly refers to son-ship and not daughter-ship. Many come from a dysfunctional family and after conversion find that they have a new and loving family. To enable them to become holy many believers need deliverance from spiritual bondage or emotional bondage.

The Holy Spirit

THE HOLY SPIRIT.

1. He is divine. He is not less than God.
2. He is distinct. He is distinct from the Son and the Father.
3. He is personal. His works indicate personality.
4. He is a counsellor or paraclete. (This same word is used to describe the work of Christ.)
5. He teaches. Luke ch 12 v 12. He reminds. John ch 14 v 26. He witnesses. John ch 15 v 26.
He comprehends. 1 Cor ch 2 v 11.
6. He has personal relations with people. Acts ch 15 v 28.
7. He is distinguished from His own power. Acts ch 10 v 38 and 1 Cor ch 2 v 4. He is other than a force or power. It is heresy to refer to Him as “it” just as it is to refer to God or Jesus as “it”. Speak of Him with reverence.

The Spirit and Power. His role is determined by the Divine purpose in the Old Testament. He is the Spirit of Power and creative energy in His role in creation. Ps 104 v 30. The Spirit is at work in creation. He is present on several occasions in the Old Testament.

The Spirit and Kingship. The Spirit of God is to be associated with the King in Israel.

The Spirit and the Word. There is a supreme association with the preached word. Micah ch 3 v 8 and 2 Sam ch 23 v 2. He is the subject of the prophetic word and the inspirer of the prophetic word. The prophecies look forward to a time when God’s law will be written on the human heart. The widespread outpouring of the Spirit is promised in Joel ch 2 v 28-32. The Spirit will be given to the servant of the Lord. God’s Spirit in the Old Testament is constantly driving towards the story of Christ. The ultimate focus of His work is Christ.

The Holy Spirit was present
(1) in the conception of Jesus. Mat ch 1 v 18-20 and Luke ch 1 v 35. The child is called Holy.
(2) at the baptism of Jesus. Jesus’ public ministry is tested in the power of the Spirit. He is led by the Spirit. He was attested by the Spirit and the Spirit worked with His preaching.
(3) in the ministry of Jesus. Mat ch 12 v 28. His healing work fulfilled the promise of the Spirit-anointed servant. Isaiah ch 42 v 1ff.

There is uniqueness in the Spirit’s work in Christ. Jesus had a special relationship with His Father. All things were given into His hands. He is the specially loved Son. The Spirit is given without measure. He equipped Jesus in His ministry. Jesus never said that He was a prototype. Jesus’ power over nature marks Him out as a special person to point to His glory. His possession by the Holy Spirit and the possession of believers by the Holy Spirit are different. The Spirit given to Christ pointed to Christ. The Spirit given to believers points to Christ.

Jesus as dispenser of the Spirit.
1. The Spirit descended and remained on Him. John ch 1 v 32-33. The bestowing of the Spirit is linked with His own special possession by the Spirit. It is tied up to what Jesus does with sin. Fire in the Old Testament deals with sin in judgement or in cleansing. He is the purifier and the sanctifier. The regeneration of the Spirit signifies and fulfils the promise in Ezekiel of the new Spirit within. It is moral renewal. Jesus came to deal with sins.
2. The Spirit is only given when Jesus is ascended from this Earth to His exalted position. Jn ch 7 v 39 and Jn ch 16 v 7-10.
3. Jesus illuminates the Spirit’s character. He is the Spirit of Christ. Rom ch 8 v 9. and Phil ch 1 v 19. The Spirit is stamped with the personality of Jesus and assumes the work of Jesus. John ch 14 v 16-7 and John ch 16 v 7-8.
Welcoming the Holy Spirit is like a man welcoming the person of Jesus into his life. His work is primarily to speak of Christ. His testifying role is to point to Christ. He magnifies Christ. The life of Christ should be reflected in doctrine and the experience of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit of Mission.
The Book of Acts is about Acts ch 1 v 8. The theme is seeking those who are lost. Jesus predicted that this would be the theme and purpose of the Spirit. Mark ch 13 v 9-13. The initiative of the Spirit is mission – boldness to speak – assurance – He initiates new moves – He converts. He takes the initiative and gives direction and inspiration.

The Spirit of Life.
1. In inception. He brings new life into the life of the believer. Eph ch 1 v 13. It is like a down payment or guarantee. He is indispensable to being a Christian. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ is not a believer. The Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of God are synonymous. No Spirit – no Christian. Acts ch 15 v 8. To be a Christian is to have the Spirit. The Spirit is present in regeneration. Any experience of Christ is an experience of the Holy Spirit who mediates Christ to man. 2 Cor ch 11 v 4. Eph ch 4 v 30-32. 1 Pet ch 1 v 2.
2. In continuance. There is emphasis on the Fruit, which is evidence of new life. Gal ch 5 v 25. The fruit comes by walking by the Spirit – keep in step with the Spirit and make the right choices. Do not grieve Him. Put away all things that displease God. This can only be done in dependence on the Spirit. 1 Thes ch 4 v 7-8. This leads to a life of holiness, which renounces uncleanness. Rom ch 14 v 17. Renewal in the Holy Spirit fulfils the down payment. Tit ch 3 v 5. A man cannot pray at all without the Holy Spirit. Prayer has no effect without the Holy Spirit. Ch 4 v 6. A man can only pray in belief. Rom ch 8 v 15-16. The Spirit enables a man to address God as Father. A man needs the Spirit to help him to pray. Rom ch 8 v 26.

The Energising of the Spirit.
Only by His help can the heart of a man and the life of a man be opened up for His dwelling place and He strengthens a man. Eph ch 3 v16-17.

The Baptism of The Holy Spirit.
First view. It is a second and distinct work of grace beyond conversion. It is experiential work – a felt experience in the moment of its reception and its consequences. This approach for good or for bad can be traced back to Calvinists. Wesley traced it to entire sanctification. Methodists transferred it into the Baptism of the Spirit and the equipment of the power for service. It is something subsequent to conversion. This leads to a two-stage theology of the Spirit. The supporters appeal to Acts ch 2 where believing people received an experience, which transformed their lives. Acts ch 8 where believers in Samaria were converted but still needed hands laid on them to receive the promised Holy Spirit. Acts ch 19 v 1-7 where disciples in Ephesus had not even heard of the Holy Spirit. Paul laid hands on them and the Holy Spirit came upon them. The Holy Spirit generally descends only after regeneration, faith and baptism. Some say that the gift of tongues is a sign. 1 Cor ch 12 v 1. In Acts ch 8 tongues is implied by Simon the Magician. Paul says that he wishes everyone spoke in tongues. 1 Cor ch 14.

Second view. This rejects the use of Baptism of the Spirit to describe post baptism experiences. It does not say that there is a crisis experience, nor that it is dramatic and transforming or that there are haves and have-nots among believers in such a serious matter.
1. It is a precarious method to use the Acts of the Apostles as a pattern. There were special circumstances at the time. No one has gone all the way and sold their possessions etc. Saul was not the normative for all conversions. A man should not use the Acts as a definitive guideline for all Christian experience.
2. Every believer has already received the Holy Spirit. Acts ch 8 v 17. They received Him at conversion. It proves too much.
3. The second blessing presentation obscures the centrality and sufficiency of the Lord Jesus. He becomes the Lord of the beginning. The Baptism of the Spirit is “that aspect of Christian initiation in which the Holy Spirit manifests Himself in a man’s experience so that He works as He first worked with complete freedom and full effectiveness in the manhood of Christ.”
4. It is Christ who baptises with the Spirit. It was the distinguishing feature of His ministry. It is much more than a second blessing and is more basic. This is reinforced with Cornelius in Acts ch 1 v 5. At v 17 Paul understands that this experience is the same as his own conversion. At the moment of conversion there is saving faith. Acts ch 11 v 14. A man is saved by the message. He was not saved when he saw the angels. Before that he was a devout man – a Gentile man interested in the Jewish religion and was seeking the truth. In Peter’s own preaching on the Day of Pentecost in Acts ch 2 he says that everyone who believes will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

All were baptised into one body – one Spirit. This is identical with the predictions of John the Baptist. The invitation to every believer is to belong to one body. 1 Cor ch 12 v 13. The very word “Baptism” can only be understood as a word of invitation. It means to initiate and belongs to the beginning of the Christian life.

Luke is interested in how the Holy Spirit comes to the Church. First Jerusalem – then a progression in the giving of the Spirit. Acts ch 1. The Apostles’ experience had to be unique. They knew Jesus personally before the Holy Spirit was available to them. They had faith before Jesus died. Believers are different because they do not experience stages of knowledge of Christ. There is no need of tongues of flame over their heads.

In Acts ch 8 v 16 there is something unusual and irregular – it is just for them and not for all. There is a special control by the Holy Spirit in the extension of the Gospel to the Samaritans. There was mutual hatred so there is good reason for the two stages. There was a danger of a rift in the Church over this matter. In order to seal the Jerusalem and Samaritan Churches the Apostles were the link whereby the Holy Spirit came to them. It is a one-off experience. In Acts ch 19 v1-7 the “Disciples” cannot be taken as Believers. They were disciples of John and Paul realised that they were not believers. He had made a mistake so he tested them out. “Did you receive the Spirit? If not, you are not believers.”

It was not a second blessing but a first blessing only. Paul was told on the Damascus Road: Acts ch 22 v 16 “Rise and be baptised.” That is the moment he was converted. Man cannot have it both ways. If Baptism of the Holy Spirit is the possession of all believers, it must be equally and fully given regardless of the strength of the appreciation of Him by each believer. There are variations in a man’s experiential appreciation but that is something other than the Baptism of the Spirit. Baptism is not something felt but something done by God. This will have experiential results but it is not to be confused with what is experienced.

It is unlikely that the early Church used the expression the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in two completely different ways. It is doubtful if the expression of the term is used in an experiential way at all. It is not explained how the recipients felt when baptised. The signs are for external purposes.

Man comes in three parts: body, soul and spirit. The Bible deals with the material aspect of life. Creation. Physical healing. Bodies. Pain and suffering.

Then there is the moral dimension, affecting a man’s soul or personality. Moral laws dictate how a man should behave towards God and his fellow men. “Love the Lord with all your mind.” Gal ch 5 v 13-25 is a perfect example of what God wants by way of Christian life style. It shows a positive attitude. There are many instances of “Don’t do that. Do this instead.” It is not enough to be negative and cut out the bad things a man used to do without replacing them with positive new good things. The commission sins and omission sins are as serious as the rebellion sins. The Bible in this area is character building. God wants men and women of integrity and of moral fibre, who display the graces (fruit) of the spirit. Who a man is in his character is more important than what he does. Fruit is for all believers. Gifts are for those to whom God distributes them. The objective is to become like Jesus. Without the growing of fruit there is a danger of falling back into bondage. The first 3 are inward aspects of the Christian life. The second 3 are social attitudes towards others. The last 3 help a man to relate to God. The emphasis is on a man loving his brother. Without that a man has never really begun to grow.

There is much in the Bible to do with the spiritual life a man lives. Believers are spiritual beings, living in a spiritual World. God is a spirit. The Devil is a spiritual being, as are the angels and the fallen angels – the demons. Jude v 6 and Jude v 19. Acts ch 1 v 8. Jesus existed before He came as a physical man in a body. He was born of the Holy Spirit. John ch 1 v 14 and ch 1 v 1-4. There are 300 references to angels in the Bible.

Everything, which happens in the physical and seen world, is a manifestation of what is happening in the spiritual and unseen World. There is a great battle between good and evil as God and the Devil each claim our worship and allegiance. Snooker table illustration.
Human beings are players on the stage of time in a giant Heavenly production. They are like puppets on a string. God the author sent His own Son onto the stage to play the leading role and to rescue humanity form a terrible situation. The players have a choice to make. The danger is that man drains the Bible of the supernatural. God is a supernatural God. The occult means the hidden things. John ch 3 v 3. Born again of the Spirit of God. Dan ch 2 v 21-22.

Ex ch 3 v 7-8. Jesus came to set the people free.

There are three categories. The Liberals tend towards the material realm. They live in it. They are more concerned than believers for the planet on which they live. Many believers are not much interested but are simply waiting for Heaven. They are very Heavenly but not much Earthly use.

The middle class Churches tend towards the moral realm. It is what they want for their children – good behaviour. They have little experience of the spiritual realm and are not much interested in the material realm.

The Charismatic Churches are more interested in the supernatural but are often little interested in the material realm and lack discipline in the moral realm. This is often because they have come from an experience of a spiritual background, either occult or ancestral possession. Each type of Church tends to appeal to its own kind. It is dangerous to change course without losing many who do not want to change. However, there is a need for a balance. It is impossible to achieve holiness without the power of the Holy Spirit. There is a danger of trying by the person’s own efforts and falling back into a grace by works. The Good Samaritan becomes the High Priest of Christian service. Perhaps that it why the disciples could not deal with demon possession. They did not want to be involved. The middle class Church will not appeal to those seeking a deeper spiritual experience. Sadly some of these will turn to false teachings and spiritists.

So much time in preaching is taken up with the mechanics of being prepared. Believers are told that they need to get the motive right. They need to be in fellowship with the Spirit. They need to have the right attitude. But so often the preacher runs out of time just at the point of starting to do the words of Jesus. e. g. heal the sick and cast out demons. The solution for a poor person is not necessarily money. That may be necessary to tide that person over his immediate problem but the problem is deeper than that. Why did he become poor in the first place? Believers are not doing what Jesus did and following in His footsteps. Most are quite happy to keep talking, so that they do not have to make any serious decisions. It is easy to listen to the words of Jesus and to admire them. But to do them is altogether another matter. It is like checking the mechanics of the bus – the engine – the seats – the driver – the passengers – the fuel – but if it never leaves the garage, it does not matter what condition it is in. Eventually people become disinterested in checking over the bus, because they realise that it is never going on the road anyway. The passengers want to go somewhere – anywhere! There are people standing at bus stops, crying out for someone to come to their help. Meantime the bus is still at the bus station. There comes a time when training for a job has to come to and end the job has to start. The Church has abandoned healing to doctors and all sorts of New Age people. The demons they have left to the psychologists, who administer tablets to the people and lock them up in hospitals. There is no point in offering to serve the Lord, if there is no determination to do it. Jonah ch 1 v 12 says that the World is in a mess and the believers are responsible. Pain and suffering is the result of sin.

There are certain arguments supporting the fact of baptism in the Holy Spirit as a second act of grace for Christians.
1. Acts ch 8 v 15-17. This suggests that the Samaritans were converted by the preaching. At a later date the Holy Spirit was given. This was a separate action. It suggests that there is a time between becoming a believer and receiving the Holy Spirit. This leads to a two – tier Christianity – those who are ordinary believers and those who have been baptised in the Holy Spirit. There was no evidence that the Samaritans spoke in tongues. A lot of people talk of being believers but have no power or evidence of the Holy Spirit. It is easy to talk about Jesus, but it is only those who do the words of Jesus who are believers. The Samaritans were perhaps in this category – talkers and not doers of the Word. Baptism is not a salvation issue. It depends on whether or not they have exercised faith. This is not always apparent openly, since it is sometimes an inward matter. The real question is: “were they converted in the first place?”
2. Acts ch 10 v 47. Cornelius. For Peter the sole evidence was that Cornelius spoke in tongues, and this proved to Peter that he had received the Holy Spirit. Cornelius was interested and believed that there was a God. He would have been a deist. Peter preached Christ crucified and risen. Conversion took place and the Holy Spirit came down. Then there was baptism with water. Peter was satisfied that the conversion was true.
3. Acts ch 19 v 7. They spoke in tongues. However, the Samaritans did not speak in tongues. This would appear to be a straight conversion. They had been baptised in John before. This related only to repentance. They did not know of the Holy Spirit and were not converted.

Those who promote a two – tier Christianity claim that speaking in tongues is the accepted evidence that a person has been baptised in the Holy Spirit. But John ch 3 v 6 and 1 Cor ch 12 v 3 makes it clear that no one can say that Jesus is Lord unless by the Holy Spirit. They take the evidence of the Disciples as normal. But the Disciples were unique in that they were with Jesus in the flesh and received the Holy Spirit only after He had risen and ascended. Acts ch 2 says that the Disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and does not use the word baptised. So does Acts ch 4. John ch 16 says that The Holy Spirit is in man and with man if he is a believer. Paul says in 1 Cor ch 12 v 30 that not everyone has the power to speak in tongues.

The great commission in Mat ch 28 speaks of one experience – belief and baptism in the Holy Spirit. Man cannot worship God without the Holy Spirit. General grace and special grace explains the work of the Holy Spirit with a person before conversion. Baptism in the Spirit is one of the ways the New Testament speaks about becoming a believer. Hence every true believer in Christ has been baptised in the Spirit. A subsequent experience, however overwhelming goes beyond Biblical usage. There is no doubt that it is a new spiritual reality and that it is effective. A second baptism is unscriptural. It is more like a fuller degree – a fresh outpouring of the Spirit. A believer should desire as much of the fullness and power of the Spirit as God may be pleased to give him.

Jesus did not need to be born again. He allowed Himself to be baptised to identify with man. He was not converted but was always God. Jesus had great power before the public baptism – power to resist temptation and to refrain from speaking. Baptism is only a symbolic act to demonstrate what has happened in the unseen World. Power is given for the work to be done. There is a danger of seeking power for power’s sake without being prepared to do the service to others.

Nowhere in the Bible is there a call to a second baptism. Paul says again and again to love – 1 Cor ch 15 but never asks man to seek another baptism. All the important themes in the Bible are repeated time and again.

The fruit of the Spirit are different. They all grow naturally together. The opposite are the sins of the flesh – rivalry, jealousy and hatred. Acts ch 2 seems to be speaking in another language, rather than tongues and was Babel reversed. Any healing for the purpose of boasting, material gain or prestige is demonic. If health only is at stake, there is something wrong. The objective should be reconciliation with God. Healing must take its place in the overall perspective of God’s total will for all concerned. There is a need for spiritual discernment to see when it is God’s will to heal. Then the healer will know that he may ask God for healing. Acts ch 14 v 9. Healing must not be an end in itself. It is God who heals and He must speak and reveal that He is going to do it.

J. I. Packer. The Restorationalist theology claimed is deeply unbiblical. It claims that 1 Cor ch 12 v 4 and Acts ch 2 are norms, ideals and goals for believers now. It forces on non-charismatic believers as lacking something vital.
1. Are not all believers spirit baptised into one body? 1 Cor ch 12 v 3.
2. Repentance and faith and the gift of the Spirit come in fullness together. In Acts ch 19 v 2-6 the Ephesians were not believers.
3. The two-stage experience of the Disciples is unique. The Spirit could not start His work until 9 a.m. on Pentecost morning.
4. Paul did not expect all to speak in tongues. It is doubtful if tongues build up the body.
Restorationalism as a theology of charismatic experience will not do.
Sin still dwells in believers. It is dethroned but not destroyed. It is doomed to die but is not yet dead. The gift of tongues is only useful if it helps a person to concentrate on God. Joyful assurance is the natural outcome of Spirit baptism. God chooses the time and occasion to renew blessings – perhaps in preparation for pain, loss, some special demanding ministry or discouraging ministry – perhaps just because He loves a man – perhaps due to fear, guilt, nervous exhaustion and depression and to help with battles of indwelling sin and rejection. It is all God’s work of renewing and deepening assurance.

Sin

SIN.

The Bible falls into three parts:-
1. Revelation. God reveals what man does not understand.
2. Commands. God tells man what he ought to do.
3. Promises. God tells man what will happen if he acts in a certain way.
God reveals sin to the World in the Bible. He reveals what man ought to be like i. e. like Jesus.

The meaning of sin.
Sin is transgression – the breaking the moral law. The law of God is simply the expression or transcript of His moral perfection for the regulation of the thought and life consonant with His perfection. There are three categories:-

(a) Sin is missing the mark or falling short of what God expects of man. e.g. a father ought to provide for his children and an employer ought to provide for his employees. These are sins of omission. Judges ch 20 v 16 speaks of throwing a stone at a mark and not missing. 1 Sam ch 26 v 21. 1 Sam ch 19 v 4-5. 2 Kings ch 18 v 14. Scripture uses 20 instances of this type of sin. “chata” is the word in Hebrew.)

(b) Sin is going astray. Romans ch 1 v 15-28. Doing things which man should not do. Taking decisions without consulting God or doing his own thing. 1 Sam ch 26 v 21. It also covers sin of ignorance. Lev ch 4 v 2-3. It is particularly used in relation to the breaking of the Covenant by Israel. “Israel is only your heart and mine on a national scale.” (“shagah” is the word in Hebrew.)

(c) Sin is rebellion. Disregard for what God wants. This includes sheer disobedience to man’s conscience. It was Adam’s sin. He knew what he should not do. It was also Lucifer’s sin.

Every sin is a personal affront to a holy God. Romans ch 1 v 18-23. If man breaks the law of the land, he suffers the consequences. So if he breaks God’s moral law, he suffers. The first sin recorded is in Gen ch 2 v 15-17. It was distrust of God. The temptation was to distrust God and Adam and Eve fell for it. Sheer disobedience. “I will not obey God.” The commands of God are summed up in the words of Jesus in Mat ch 22 v 37-40. Love God and love your neighbour. A judge in a court of law is impartial when he administers justice but God takes sin as a personal insult – a sign that man does not care for Him. Sin is not just something which is bad but which is wrong. Sin violates the “ought”. God’s command is outside of man and has been given to him. There is a thin trace of it on the human heart. Romans ch 2. When the law is broken, a divine person’s divine wisdom, authority and character is being challenged. Israel was adulterous and was not faithful to God as He was faithful to them. A seared conscience is possible.

The origin of sin.
Jude v 6 tells that the angels rose above their station, led by Satan. Satan wanted someone to praise him. Pride is at the heart of sin. Although Satan tempts, man is responsible for his own sin. Romans ch 5 v 12. “In sin did my mother conceive me.” Jeremiah tells man that he is born as a sinner. Sin started at a specific point in time in Adam and Eve. If man takes away Gen chs 1-3 he dispenses with the whole Bible. It is inexplicable that the first pair sinned. Man has free will and can do what he wants or what God wants. God did not want man to rebel. There is an element of mystery as to how Adam’s sin affects every man but the fact is clear – all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. It may be passed on by the genes of the father.

There are a number of consequences of sin.

1. Man is unfit for God’s presence and cannot know Him.
2. Man is unable to do God’s will
3. Man is unrighteous before God’s law.
4. Man is insensitive to God’s Word and becomes ignorant of the things of God.
5. Man is inclined to create false gods, who will not make him feel guilty.
6. Man becomes uncomfortable with his fellow man.
7. Man is affected by shame and loses confidence.
8. Man is not at peace with God and his fellow man.
9. Man pollutes the Earth.
10. The wages of sin is death. All experience physical death.

The dominant theme of the Bible is man’s rebellion against God and God’s gracious response. In the fall, man snatched at equality with God, sought to be independent of God and questioned God’s integrity and loving provision for him. Man is utterly unable to save himself from the consequences of his sin. Man adopts his own standard of goodness and justifies himself in his own eyes, excusing his sin. Because of his sin, man stands in judgement before a holy God. There is more in the Bible about the wrath of God than the love of God. It is only an awareness of sin and judgement, which makes a man cry out for mercy and a saviour. God has to punish sin and cannot overlook it because, to forgive sin without a penalty, would only mean that man would sin again. If sin is so serious for an unbeliever, who does not know Jesus, how much more serious it is for those who do know Him? Being born again does not put paid to sin but gives power to overcome it, which the unbeliever does not have. Sin breeds like weeds in a garden. Man is called to weed out the sins or else they will grow and choke his spiritual life to death. Man cannot stand still. He will either become less sinful or more sinful. Sin leads to a great gulf between man and God. Jesus came to bridge that gap.

Some aspects of sin.
1. Sin is a life context. The World is in rebellion against God and all suffer, when they live in a sin-ridden society. All are affected by their neighbour’s sinful action. It is like washing white garments with coloured ones. The colour runs and stains the white ones. The music of man’s life is no longer in harmony with the divine order and glory to which it was set. There is a corporate nature to sin. The whole of human existence has been disrupted and damaged by sin. Society as a whole is in rebellion against God. It is like one great conspiracy against God. The word “World” means organised human activity in rebellion against the ways of God. The values, which typify the World, can control the lives of narrow religious people. Any form of alignment with the rebellion against God is worldliness. The redeemed are in the World but not of it. John ch 17 v 15-16. There is an underworld rebellion of evil controlling worldliness.

2. Sin is lawlessness. It is addictive – one sin leads to another. It shows contempt for God’s laws.
(a) It is the opposite of righteousness. 2 Cor ch 6 v 14.
(b) It is the opposite of being eager to do good. Tit ch 2 v 14.
(c) There is evidence that it is working to a climax in the World as a challenge to God. 2 Thes ch 2 v 3.
(d) In the individual it has a cumulative effect. It is an addictive process and leads to ever increasing wickedness.

3. Sin is a condition. It is a disease, which all men have. They have become slaves to sin. Rom ch 6 v 16. Jesus said that the people were of their father the Devil. Man is under the power of sin. Rom ch 3 v 9. Gal ch 3 v 22. The whole World is a prisoner to sin. The human sinful mind is hostile to God. The character of Satan’s rebellion is upon man. Man is a son of disobedience. 1 John ch 3. This is true each time a believer sins deliberately. He becomes a slave to that sin again.

4. Sin is slavery. This was Israel’s experience in Egypt. It led to bondage. Sin controls man and rules his life e.g. stealing, drink destroys lives and takes control of them. It is like a tyrant ruling over man. Sin seduces people as the serpent seduced Eve. Rom ch 7 v 11. It deceives man and puts him to death. Satan seeks to hurt God by hurting the most precious thing to God – man is the pinnacle of God’s creation. Satan’s character is as a murderer and liar. Man’s lack of integrity, honesty and sincerity align with Satan. Fallen man does Satan’s bidding.

5. Sin is positive. Calvin said that sin involves the radical corruption of man’s moral and spiritual nature. Sin is commission as well as omission. Man commits sins. They do not just happen. Sin is a distortion of God’s order. Sin is not just a limitation but it is something pulling in the opposite direction – like a magnet. Hate and murder are equally serious in God’s eyes but there is a place for degrees of sin. The degree of knowledge of sin has an influence on judgement.

6. Sin is specific. It is not a vague condition. The Bible lists individual sins and identifies man’s sins for him. Man is commanded to confess his sins – not general sinning but specific sins against another person. In doing so and obeying the command of God, there is a release from the power of sin.

7. Sin is inward. There is a tendency to look at the outward conformity to set standards and to ignore the heart. Mark ch 7 v 21 says that defilement comes from within – from the heart of man. Apparently external sins like adultery come from lust in the heart. Sin is not just anti-social but primarily directed against God. The Old Testament speaks of the inner life of man as the imagination or inclination of the heart. Gen ch 6 v 5. The heart is the inner person – the whole personality. Jesus brought out this teaching. Rom ch 1 v 24.

8. Sin is unbelief. Rom ch 1 v 18. Human wickedness suppresses the truth. Believing and obeying are the same as are unbelieving and disobeying. Unbelief is the dominant theme in Heb ch 3. Unbelief is another word for disobedience. The touchstone of judgement is the response of man to Christ, since rejection of Christ is rejection of God. No man comes to the Father but by the Son. To doubt God is to call Him a liar. Anxiety and worry is sin, in that it is unbelief. The person who is anxious does not believe that God is in control and therefore is anxious. Mat ch 6 v 25. Being anxious is different from being concerned about a situation.

9. Sin is falsehood. It is rejection of the truth, rejecting the truth that God speaks. There is a tendency to reject truth in general. There is a new honesty and truthfulness, when a person becomes a believer. The character of the Man of Lawlessness is to deceive. Man needs the light of God’s revelation to guide him. Distortion of truth shows that there is a sin needing to be dealt with.

10. Sin is an enormous debit to God, which man cannot pay. Sin is seen as a debt against God of unbelievable proportions. Luke ch 18 v 1, 4 and 13 show that a cry for mercy alone can settle the debt. Col ch 2 v 14. The certificate of indebtedness was nailed to the cross.

11. Sin is responsible. The individual is responsible for his own sin. Rom ch 1 v 18.

12. Sin is the parent of death. Rom ch 6 v 23. The wages or result of sin is death. Death is not just the punishment of sin but is the fruit or blessing of sin which, when full-grown, brings forth death.

13. Sin is a mystery. There is nothing good to be said about it. It is sheer folly. Nothing is to be gained by it.

The Extent of Sin.
(a) Genesis shows a rapid progression of sin. Serious sin quickly followed the first sin. Soon there was murder.
(b) Widespread sin quickly took place in the whole race. Gen ch 6 v 11. It is still true after the flood. Noah’s family was still quite sinful. Gen ch 9 v 20-27.
(c) Deep-rooted sin led to a conspiracy against God by the community. Gen ch 11. It was an act of religious treason to God’s authority. Revolts tend to be associated with cities. It was an explicit challenge to God with the claim that man would be equal with God.
(d) Israel represents opposition of the human heart on a national scale. Judges ch 2 v 6-9.
(e) Jesus made it clear that all are sinners. Mark ch 7 v 11. He speaks of the universality of sin. Luke ch 13 v 5.
(f) The New Testament writers follow this lead from Jesus. Sin even deceives the Church – self-deceivers. The whole World is a great city of Babel.
(g) There are 40 chapters in the Bible, where God judges a nation for sin. Nahum ch 3 v 19. A nation may be under judgement for sin, while an individual within the nation is blessed by the Lord.

Extension to the Individual.

In a fallen sinful World, to be human is to be sinful. The nature of the flesh is sinful and those in the flesh can never please God. Sin is comprehensive in its nature and consumes the whole inner person as well as his actions. It amounts to total depravity. All of man’s faculties are morally impaired.

The mind needs to be renewed. Paul calls man to be renewed in his mind. Eph ch 2 v 3. The human mind is locked into the immoral. Every thought of the mind is to be taken captive to God. 2 Cor ch 11 v 3. The greatest moral upheaval in a person’s life is repentance, which is the changing of the mind. 2 Tim ch 2 v 25. Scripture says that man is in darkness of mind. Eph ch 4 v 17-19. The mind is the centre of rebellion against God. It is only the common grace of God, which does good, despite darkened minds. In some pale way man still reflects God’s character. The greater the ability, the greater the power for good or evil. Jesus was concerned about the attitude of the mind in the Sermon on the Mount. An unconverted mind cannot do that which pleases God.

Human Inability.
God said of Jesus that He is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. No one else comes into that category. All humans cannot please God with their minds, their affections or their wills. The flesh cannot please God. The leopard cannot change its spots and neither can the sinner. Jer ch 13 v 23. Despite human inability some good is done by means of common grace, but there is no way that man can commend himself to God, no matter how hard he strives. Works will not merit salvation. Goodness is seen in the World in authorities, the standing of discerning and unbelieving people, the hearts of all men, Rom ch 2 v 15, and even Israel in its rebellion has a zeal for God. Rom ch 3 v 2 and ch 9 v 4. There is therefore certain goodness in the opponents of believers. The natural mind has a certain free agency. The choices of man are free in that God does not force Himself on man. A man’s choices are his own and he has to live with them. But unconverted man cannot choose to please God but he can choose between good or evil. Converted man can choose to please God because he knows what pleases God. Only faith pleases God.

The Origin of Sin.
Morally there is a child-father relationship between the sinner and Satan. Satan is associated with opposition to God from a very early stage. He is implicated with sin in mankind. He is identified with the serpent in Genesis. Rev ch 20 v 2. The work of Christ is essentially a work of destruction, which terminates upon the power and work of Satan. There is no way back for Satan and his angels. Rev ch 20 v 10. The angels rose above their station. Jude v 6. Satan sought to inculcate this pride in Adam and Eve. Sin was a free movement in the heart of man and was not the responsibility of Satan.

The following are ideas formed by man to take account of man’s fallen nature. They are all in conflict with the teaching of the Bible and are to be refuted.

1. DUALISM says that good and evil are both natural elements in the Universe and that neither has the ascendancy. They are pitted against each other. (This is the star wars theory.) Process theology says that God is not really in control. The Bible says that good will prevail over evil and that God is in total control of the Universe.

2. PROBATIONISM. Evil is an essential element of the Universe and is necessary to train man for a better life. But the Bible teaches that evil is always unnatural and was not intended by God. There will be no evil in Heaven.

3. NATURALISM. This roots evil in man’s nature as a physical creature. Man is prone to moral weakness. The Bible says that evil is an intrusion into human life. This idea suggests that man can by effort rise above the body and its inherent weakness by subduing evil under the mind and the spirit.

4. EVOLUTIONISM. All the wrongs and evils of humans are due to man’s primitive past. Man is still throwing off his primitive past nature. Sin is the remnant of his animal nature and is left over from his reptile ancestors. Some Christians even say that God built it in to begin with and in Jesus is now helping man out. This rejects the view that sin is an unnatural intrusion. God saw that it was good.

GENESIS CHAPTER 3. There was a powerful spiritual being behind the serpent. It reads as a first-hand account of events. A myth is a way of describing a timeless truth. To call the story a myth states that it is not historically true. Take away Genesis chapters 1-3 and you dispense with the whole Bible. Genesis chapter 4 gives genealogies, which would make nonsense of the rest of Genesis. Later writers assume the truth of this passage. All writers of the Bible treat it as a factual event. There was a moment when sin entered the experience of man.

The Fall of man was a wilful moral act of opposition to God. It was not just an unfortunate accident but it was a conscious moral act of rebellion. The fall consisted of doubt of the Divine goodness, wisdom and love, disbelief of the Divine Word and coveting of the Divine prerogatives. The taking of the fruit is merely an outward expression of the inner life. Eve was ready to collaborate against God, when she spoke to the serpent. She knew that it was patently occult – hidden. Man was over the animals and she should have known that. Sin was born before the hand stretched out.

The results were immediate.
(a) Fear and shame indicate an alienation from God.
(b) On God’s side there is anger, reproof and punishment.
(c) The curses indicate the first conquests of death. “As you eat you shall surely die.” The New Testament traces the beginning of sin to this event. Paul believed Adam was real.
(d) There is still a mystery as to why it happened. They did not need to do it. It is inexplicable. They were perfect and had everything they could ever want. How could God’s plan and purpose for mankind include such an event as this? God knew what man would do with his free will. God could not instigate a rebellion against Himself. Reformed theology (Calvinists) says that it is comprehended in God’s plan and was His purpose. Liberal theology says that He was unable to do anything about it. God must have reckoned it worthwhile to allow it. Satan emphasised Adam’s rights and not his responsibility but God had given Adam responsibility for the Earth. An external power or influence cannot cause a rational being to sin. Sin was a revolt against His sovereignty, supremacy, authority and will.

TRANSMISSION OF SIN.

Men are sons of disobedience. Eph ch 5 v 6. Rom ch 5 v 12. Eph ch 2 v 3. Sin is universally in the human race by nature and man is born a sinner. Sin is not picked up but inherited. “In sin did my mother conceive me.” Hence the emphasis in Scripture on a rebirth, a regeneration, a new man, a new creature and a new spirit. Original sin is the name given to confirm that sin is with man from the beginning. It means that man’s sin bears some relationship with that of the first pair. It can be traced to the fall of Adam. How is it transmitted? Rom ch 5 v 12. There remains a mystery. All men sinned at the time that Adam sinned.

There are 3 views.

1. Charles Finnie and others argue that man is born pure and he picks up sinful ways from those around him. This raises the question as to why, by his own efforts, he cannot get rid of it. Man does not then need Jesus to die for his sin, since it is not his fault. This ignores Rom ch 5 v 12.

2. The Realist View.
Every human being was in some sense present at the Fall. Adam’s sin was the sin of all men. Each man truly sinned in Eden. Sin is then transmitted through a common corrupted nature and man now continues to sin. Heb ch 7 v 4-10 is quoted in support. Man sinned although he did not actually exist. Objections.
(a) The Bible does not teach anywhere about a common substance called human nature but God created individual human beings.
(b) No one was consciously present in Eden apart from Adam and Eve. Man today was not conscious.
(c) God treats man as an individual and not as a total humanity with a shared nature.
(d) The supreme example of God treating people as a unity is the Christian Church but that is because they are related to Jesus Christ in some way. Rom ch 5. Man did not physically die with Jesus on the cross and he did not physically sin with Adam. He was not present physically at Jesus’ obedience and he was not present physically at Adam’s disobedience.
(e) Hebrews Ch 7 is plucked out of context.
(f) It proves too much. It entails some real involvement of Jesus in Adam’s sin. He was a physical descendant.
Man has criminal guilt due to real participation as part of human substance. When born he is a conscious part of the human substance.

3. The Representative or Federal View.
The first and last Adams have pivotal roles in man’s destiny, displaying constitutive ordination on God’s part to these unique relationships. God in His wisdom gave Adam a special position as head of and representative of all human beings. Whatever choice Adam made was to be regarded as a choice on behalf of all men. God decided to treat man as if he was present. Whatever consequences fell on Adam, would fall on all men. David and Goliath were representatives of their respective peoples. The consequences were:
1. All are reckoned as guilty.
2. Man is in slavery to sin.
3. Physical death and condemnation. (Each man would have done as Adam did sooner or later.)
Objections.
(a) This view involves God in a great injustice. He punishes a person for a sin in which he had no participation. Man has to accept the wisdom of God. Rom ch 11 v 32. God has in His wisdom consigned all men to disobedience.
(b) All men feel responsible for the sins of the World in some way. They would have committed them also.

Rom chapter 5 v 12. There are two ways of considering the phrase “all sinned.”
1. The imitation theory. All men imitated Adam and did the same as he did. However, the tense is past. There was a moment when all men actually sinned. Adam’s sin spread death to all men even though they had no part in his particular sin. Babies and those who have never heard of Adam cannot imitate him.
2. The imputation theory. Death and condemnation are imputed to all men as a result of the one sinful act. There is a parallel with Christ and eternal life. Man does not receive life by imitation of Christ but by being counted with Christ. 1 Cor ch ch 15 v 23 and v 45-49. The Representative view is the one, which picks up the feeling of the passage. If sins are passed on through the genes, it fits in with the passage. It also explains why the sins of Mary did not affect the child Jesus who was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Exodus ch 20 talks of the sins of the father being passed on to the succeeding generations. Sin in man is not just a question of imitating Adam’s sin. It is a condition of rebellion and guilt belonging to human nature. The idea that God accepted Adam as man’s representative has fewer problems than the realist theory, and it also conforms to the Bible. No one is judged on account of Adam’s sins but on his own account. However, there remains some element of mystery as to how it become personal. Man’s own conscience witnesses to the fact that he is in rebellion against God.

Sin leads to:
1. Separation from God. Eph ch 2 v 7.
2. Dissolution of man’s unity into body and soul,
3. The disruption of the natural order. Gen ch 3 v 16-19. Death is finally abolished at the resurrection.
4. Condemnation. This is terrible and must be dealt with if man is to be saved.
5. Growing alienation from God leading to a final alienation from God, which is called judgement.
6. There is an attempt to hide by being busy or serving a false god, who will not abuse man.
7. Pollution of the World.
8. There is no peace for the wicked. Isaiah ch 57 v 20f. Sin robs a man of self-confidence and peace.
9. Racial tensions, prejudice, social divisions, family rows.
10.Self-justification, as man finds excuses for sin and stands before God on his own standard of goodness.

Miscellaneous notes.

1. Sin violates ought – a moral duty to conform to God’s law.
2. Worldliness is the common expression of man against God’s ways. To align with the ways of the World is to join the rebellion against God. There will be a huge climactic rebellion at the end of the World. James ch 4 v 4 says that friendship with the World is enmity with God.
3. The dominant theme of the Bible is man’s rebellion against God and His gracious response.
4. Sin is directed against God and is a personal attack.
5. The notion of selfishness seriously underestimates the gravity of sin.
6. Man swallowed the Satanic lie: “You shall be as gods.” This lie is at the centre of New Age teaching. Man snatched at equality with God. He asserted his independence and questioned the Creator’s integrity and loving provision for him. Man paid homage to the enemy of God as well as to his own evil ambitions.
7. Man is utterly unable to save himself. Satan’s attack was against the integrity and veracity of God and he suggested that Adam and Eve would be as God, knowing good and evil.
8. Sin meant the repudiation of God’s authority, doubt of His goodness, dispute with His wisdom, rejection of His justice, contradiction of His veracity and the spurning of His grace. Along the whole line of God’s perfection, sin was a contradiction.

Grace

THE DOCTRINE OF GRACE.

The meaning of Grace. “God’s unearned and undeserved favour to sinners who are by definition His enemies.” This covers all God’s goodness, showered on all of mankind but especially His provision of the atonement and His saving work. It is the position of the acceptance with God in which the believer stands and everything that goes with it. The Greek word is charis – hence charismatic Churches. Every real Church is a charismatic Church, in that, if there is no evidence of the grace of God at work in the Church, there is no Church at all.

The dictionary definition is the free display of favour by a superior to an inferior. In the Bible, God is that superior, under no obligation whatsoever to give of His love or to benefit mankind. Grace covers all the goodness of God directed towards mankind, with special reference to His provision of a Saviour. God’s grace is seen in the way He provides for men who have rejected His Word, both written and revealed, in the person of Jesus. This is common or unsaving grace. Against this background God gives special or saving grace to certain men whom He saves from the consequences of their sins and who, as a result, will spend eternity in the glory of God’s presence. It is appropriate to consider who receives this special grace, why God gives it and what are the consequences for the saved and for God.

Common Grace. This is a rich stream of goodness from God to unbelieving man restricting man from total depravity. If God withdrew that restraining power, ruin and misery would abound. Man, separated from God and His blessing, one of which is common grace, will, driven by his passions and greed, turn the World into abject misery. God’s grace restrains sin and its consequences. It is God who endows gifts, talents and aptitudes. He makes the sun to shine on the righteous and the unrighteous. Yet often the most blessed people i.e. rich in nature, well off and able, find it hardest to find God. They put God’s blessings down to their own inherent goodness.

Special Grace. That gracious agreement between the offended God and the offending but elect sinner, in which God promises salvation through faith in Christ and the sinner accepts this by believing with the promise of a life of faith and obedience.

Faith in Christ. For a person to exercise faith in Christ he has to know (a) who Christ is, (b) what Christ has done (c) what Christ is able to do and (d) what Christ is doing at present. This involves the mind. A person requires to hear, think and believe. Faith is the response of the whole person, wrought by God – not just intellectual but trusting. Yet the person commits himself to Christ, rather than the Creator. Faith is also the response of the whole man to the Divine act on Calvary, as he trustfully commits himself to his Creator and rests in Him for time and eternity. Faith is a whole-souled movement of intelligent, consenting and confiding self-commitment – as intellect, feeling and will converge upon Christ.

The Nature of Faith. The faith, which saves, has to be informed by the Gospel. It is not a vague, mystical experience of God. Faith comes by hearing the message of the Gospel. It involves the mind. It is satisfaction with the reality, reliability or truth of an event, object or person. Faith needs facts about Christ. Invitation must be based on the bad news and on the good news. The Gospel is information concerning Jesus and what He has done as saviour.

The Consent of Faith. The mind must give its whole-hearted assent to the information about Jesus. The mind must accept that Christ came to save and that a man needs to be saved. The mind then has a whole new view of God. The people in Old Testament times had all the ingredients – the seriousness of sin, the need for a sacrifice, the awareness of God, the need to be saved by God and the element of faith. They had no excuses.

God’s glory is revealed in creation, and the pinnacle of His creation is man, made in His own image. In Adam, before the Fall, is seen the kind of man God created and the type of fellowship God wished to enjoy, a personal relationship between a man and the living God. God must have foreseen that man, given free will, would choose to reject God’s authority in the affairs of man. God wanted man to come to Him freely as a child to his father, not under any obligation. When Adam sinned, it appears as if God had a choice, either to continue to love him, despite his sin or to destroy him, because of his sin. Yet God had to be faithful to His nature, which is love, hating the sin but loving the sinner. Despite the fact that man did not merit such love, God went on loving him and providing for him. This is what is meant by the word “grace.” Had God withdrawn from His government of the affairs of the World, man, driven by his passions and greed, would have turned the World into a place of abject misery. In some parts of the Word there is evidence that men have virtually done that.

It is by sheer grace that God restrains man from the worst effects of the Fall and renders social life tolerable for man. In the unregenerate heart of man God is at work revealing truth, restraining from evil, exciting to good, implanting wisdom and skill, when, where and in whatever measure it seems good to Him. Throughout the Bible are numerous instances of God’s grace despite man’s sin, as when God put the mark on Cain. Gen ch 4 v 15. By contrast there are times when God removes His grace, giving man over to the natural consequences of his sin.

The parable of the vineyard in Mat ch 20 makes it clear that all unregenerate men experience grace in some measure. No one can complain about the degree of grace given to him in relation to another, since not one is deserving of such grace. God is answerable to no one for His gifts. So common or unsaving grace explains the response of a loving God to sinful man but it does not restore the personal relationship lost because of sin. Something further is required. Sinful man by his own efforts could not find his way back to God. By his sin man is the enemy of God. The one way to be rid of an enemy is to make him a friend. So God chose to go to His enemies, to reveal to them Himself and His love in a personal way and to pay the price, which had to be paid for the sin of man. He did so in the person of Jesus. John ch 3 v 16. John ch 14 v 6. Through Jesus God provided the means of salvation, when man by repentance and trust in Jesus as Lord and Saviour can receive forgiveness and eternal life.

Yet the means of salvation by itself did not take man out of the state of common grace. Faith is needed to accept the Gospel message. God had already said that He would give certain men a new heart and an ability to accept the Gospel message. Jer ch 31 v 33. While on the face of it, it seems that anyone hearing the message can respond, yet Jesus made it clear that relatively few would respond. Mat ch 7 v 13. Jesus also makes it clear that those who come to Him are those given to Him or chosen by the Father. John ch 17 v 6. The adoption of the Children of Israel throws some light on the question of election. There was nothing about them, which merited God’s favour when He said: “I will take you for my people and I will be your God.” Ex ch 6 v 7. Similarly there is no one special or deserving of salvation amongst the Gentiles. The relationship between the freedom of the individual to choose salvation and the election of God in the first place can never be fully grasped by the human intellect, but it is clear from the Bible that every step in the Christian life is grace. Gal ch 1 v 15. By grace God gives the faith to accept the Gospel. Rom ch 5 v 15. After the new heart is given, or, as Jesus said, when one is born again – John ch 3 v 3 – it is by His grace in the life of the believer that the sin, which is so deep-rooted in him, is attacked. The cleansing power of the Holy Spirit goes to work in the life of the believer. There is no clear pattern to God’s election of individuals, although so often it is the least likely who respond to the message.

To see why God chooses certain people it is helpful to look again at the Children of Israel. God told them that they should be a holy nation. Ex ch 19 v 6. Paul points out that the believers are to present their bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God. Rom ch 12 v 1. So God wants a holy people, people truly in His own image, people like Jesus, so that there will be established a new order in which God’s original purposes for mankind and creation will find final realisation. All God’s enemies, all sin and Satan will be removed from God’s World at the time appointed by God, when Jesus returns.

The consequences for believers in this present World are twofold. Firstly, they shall reflect the glory of God. As Moses’ face shone after being with God (Ex ch 34 v 29), so the faces of believers should shine. 2 Cor ch 3 v 18. Secondly, as believers are gathered together into the Church, they are the body of Christ. 1 Cor ch 12 v 27. As such they continue the role of the suffering servant, which Jesus assumed in fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy. Is ch 52 v 13ff.

In this capacity the Church is both one of the instruments of God’s common grace to all mankind and also an instrument of the means of salvation, taking the Gospel message to the ends of the Earth – Mat ch 28 v 19 – and being the labourers in the great Divine harvest. Luke ch 10 v 2. As God revealed Himself in the body of Jesus, so God is fulfilling His purposes through the body of Christ, the Church. Believers have the gift of eternal life in exchange for which God demands obedience on their part to fulfil His purposes. Although God is God and does not need any favours from man, yet in some mysterious way God needs and enjoys the fellowship of man. This can be seen in the way God walked with Adam, and spoke to His prophets and in the way Jesus enjoyed the company of His Disciples and friends. The whole of the Bible makes it clear that the Messiah, separate from His people, was unthinkable.

While God is under no obligation to give of His love to sinful man, that very love spills over into grace towards the sinner, while still being opposed to the sin, thereby restraining the effects of the sin and bestowing gifts and blessings on individuals and on mankind in general. God’s limitless love has provided in Jesus the bridge across the gap between sinful man and a holy God. By His grace God enables certain men, chosen by God, to receive salvation. In this way God will enjoy forever a living personal relationship with a remnant of those He made in His own image.

Jer ch 31 v 2. Grace in the wilderness. When all seems gloom and doom, something encouraging happens unexpectedly. This is the grace of God.

John ch 1 v 14. Jesus was full of grace. A man can only give away what he has himself. Jesus freely gave grace. He was full of it. He was the epitome of grace. He healed. He delivered. He saved. It was all grace. Acts ch 4 v 33. Great grace was upon them by the Holy Spirit. He filled the Disciples and moved them to be instruments of grace. Gal ch 6 v 10.

It was an act of free grace to allow Enoch to walk into the presence of God, without facing death. Noah’s ark is a vivid picture of a spiritual truth. Noah is a type of Christ. While God is terrible to those who oppose Him, He is gracious to those who are faithful to Him.

In the days of Noah, the days of the prophets, the days of Jesus, in the days of the early Church and in the days of the Middle Ages, there were a few who walked the narrow path. Romans ch 11 v 32. All men were consigned to disobedience that God might have mercy on all.

2 Cor ch 12 v 9. My grace is sufficient for you. Reference is made in Gal ch 5 v 4 to some believers having fallen away from grace. Isaiah ch 1 v 28. Those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed. There is a balance between the stream of common grace in Jer ch 2 v 7 and deliberate and wilful rejection of God’s grace. This applies to countries as well as to individuals. Isaiah ch 54 v 7. Individuals can become Godforsaken for a time. God makes it clear twice in Jer ch 5 v 19 and Jer ch 16 v 10-13 that God punished the Jews, because they had forsaken Him. He pointed out to Samuel in 1 Sam ch 8 v 8 that it was not Samuel who had been rejected or forsaken but God Himself.

Isaiah ch 54 v 7 reveals the battle in the heart of God between grace and anger – wrath. One part of God knows that punishment is necessary to discipline those whom He loves and another part wants to show mercy. Believers petition their Father – “In your anger Lord, remember mercy.” The graciousness of God is a recurring theme throughout the Scriptures. Prov ch 22 v 11. “He whose speech is gracious will have the King as a friend.” God expects His children to be gracious like He is. Luke ch 4 v 22. Jesus spoke gracious words. Col ch 4 v 6. “Let your speech always be gracious.” This is a command of God. Never say an unkind thing of anyone.

Heb ch 4 v 16 speaks of the throne of grace. Grace pours forth from the throne room of Heaven. 1 Pet ch 4 v 10. This refers to God’s varied grace. Grace comes in many different varieties. As it is freely received, so it should be freely given out by the recipients. Rev ch 16 shows the contrast. There comes a time when God pours forth His bowls of wrath as punishment of men who have rejected His grace. Even then the punishment is designed to bring man to repentance and saving grace.

The suffering servant does not mean a miserable one but one filled with joy, who cheerfully puts God’s interests first before his own. Jesus was a man of joy.

Imagine the Queen going into the cell of a condemned criminal who had rejected her and rebelled against her and had killed her son. She says that she loves him and offers him a free royal pardon, offers to set him free and take him home to her palace and make him the heir to the throne and will give him all the rights and privileges of royalty. Eph ch 2 v 6. This is what God has done.

Grace is the soil in which faith grows. It is the seedbed of faith. Man comes to Jesus in faith, because he realises that he is a sinner and stands under the condemnation of God. Man knows that he deserves punishment for what he has done. Jesus said: “My purpose is to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think themselves already good enough.” That is why good people do not accept Jesus as their saviour. They think that they are good enough for Heaven. They credit their goodness to themselves and claim that they are good people. They will not give the credit to God. It is by His grace to them that they have any goodness at all. The phrase – there but for the grace of God – is all but gone from language today. It was once clearly understood that every good gift came from Heaven and but for the grace of God all men would be in a miserable situation. Today mankind has swallowed the basic Satanic lie that all men will be as gods. They have come of age. In the dark unscientific days, man felt helpless when there was thunder and disease. But now he knows so much more and soon will be able to resolve all the problems facing man. Man claims that he no longer needs the idea of a deity to help him.

The whole Bible is about grace from beginning to end. How helpless man, ruined by the fallen nature he has inherited from Adam and Eve, is sustained and enabled by a loving, gracious God, who swallows His own wrath against sin as long as He possibly can and bestows gifts and blessings on mankind. That generally sums up the position in relation to what is recognised as common grace, whereby God blesses mankind in general, even when they ignore Him and reject Him. Common grace is where God in His mercy restrains the worst effects of the Fall and renders social life tolerable for mankind.

Bruce Milne puts it this way: “Grace is the free decision of God, apart from all restraint and in no way compelled by man’s merit, to have mercy upon His sinful creatures, saving His people from all the effects of their sin, through Jesus.” There are two kinds of grace – common grace and special or saving grace. It is important to keep the difference in mind. All grace or goodness is unearned and undeserved. The prophet Jeremiah had grasped that fact. That is why he wrote the words in Ch 9 v 23. If a man is boasting of what he has done and is taking pride in his achievements, then he is denying that it is all of God. King Nebuchadnezzar – perhaps the greatest emperor or King the World had known until that time – ruled the World, as he knew it. Despite the fact that God had spoken to him through the prophet Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar was proud. Dan ch 4 v 28-33 tells what happened to him. It is a reminder to all who would express pride in their own achievements. When God withdrew His grace the king ended up in abject misery.

It is God through the Holy Spirit who gives gifts, talents and abilities. Whether it is a musical gift, an ability to be a scientist, an artist, a mechanic, a teacher, a doctor or a speaker, or the ability to run faster than others. Whatever gift a man has, it was given to him by God with the purpose that it would be used for the glory of God and the benefit of mankind as a whole. When a community of people share their gifts to the glory of God and the benefit of each other, there is great fulfilment. Work was intended to be a glad co-operation with God. Man is meant to complete others and not to compete with others. Because of sin it became laborious and uncongenial – hard and difficult.

The Old Testament makes it clear that extraordinary exhibitions of power, strength, ability, wisdom or insight are the result of the work of the Holy Spirit. Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom. The Lord promised to go with him wherever he went. Deut ch 34 v 9 and Joshua ch 1 v 9. Ex ch 28 v 3, 31 and ch 35 v 50. The special artistic skill of the craftsmen was attributed to the gift of the Holy Spirit. Intellectual insight is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Job ch 32 v 8. When Moses selected 70 men to rule the people, the Spirit rested on them to enable them for the task. Num ch 11v 17. When Saul and David were anointed as kings, the Spirit of the Lord came upon them to help them in the task. 1 Sam ch 10 v 6. And so on through the Scriptures. Man exists by the grace of God. Man did not create himself. Man eats by the grace of God. He provided the food for man’s body. Most people today in the developed World could not sustain their life, unless others produce food for them. God makes the plants grow. Man breathes by the grace of God. Any skill a man has is by the grace of God. The World in which man lives is sustained by the grace of God. The human brain is a gift from God – evidence of the grace of God. When there is a cut to the body, the body heals, either of itself or with help from a doctor who stitches both sides of the cut together. The stream of natural healing in the human body is evidence of the grace of God. The doctor does not heal a broken leg – he merely co-operates with God to put the broken parts together. God heals it. In God man lives and moves and has his being. The whole of creation is an act of grace. The fact that God does not destroy it because of sin is also an act of grace. Hosea ch 11 v 8-9.

The Bible is a continuous story of God at work in the unregenerate heart of man, revealing truth, restraining from evil, exciting to good, implanting wisdom and skill, when, where and in whatever measure it seemed good to Him. It is all God’s grace despite man’s sin. Jesus told the parable of the vineyard to explain that truth. It is not teaching about industrial relations. It is about mercy and grace given by God to men. God is answerable to no one for the way in which He distributes His grace. It is not about justice but about mercy.

The Scripture reminds man (Heb ch 1 v 3) that it is by His word of power that Jesus sustains this World. From time to time people and nations are seen to be plunging into misery temporarily. These people or situations are sometimes described as God-forsaken. That is exactly what has happened. God has temporarily withdrawn or withheld His grace. He has stopped the flow of grace to mankind. The result is that the situation spirals downward into chaos. God says that He does this from time to time with the specific purpose of inviting mankind to reflect on his need for God. Hell will be simply mankind without grace. Take away the blessings of warmth, light, friends, food, love, etc. That gives a picture of Hell – abject misery forever and ever.

Special grace is that activity on the part of God, who imparts to the human heart the faith to look to Jesus as Saviour for his sins. By accepting the death of Jesus as the price paid for his sins, the human being is set free firstly to worship the Lord, as was the purpose of God from the beginning and secondly to do good works to serve the purpose of God. Eph ch 2 v 10. God originates, maintains, develops, and guides the new life, which is born from above, is nourished from above and will be perfected from above.

The Church – the body of believers is a vehicle of special saving grace – the means by which people can be saved. It is also a means of imparting common grace and restraining mankind from the worst effects of his sin. Door to door work reminds the people that God is still on His throne and they cannot get away with their sin. The sad fact is that the Church is not speaking out saying: “God forbids this and that.” That is part of the task of the true Church to restrain man from his sin.

A man’s whole existence is grace, whether it is common grace or special grace. Once a man understands that, he can move on to exercise faith in Jesus as the source of the grace by which he lives. John calls the Holy Spirit the spirit of grace, since He takes the grace of Christ and confers it on man.

Grace is like a flowing stream – sometimes gentle and sometimes fast and turbulent – sweeping a man along to a destination. A stream waters the ground through which it passes. Believers are to be instruments of blessing to those they meet in life. Grace is past – man was saved by grace. Grace is present – man is enveloped by grace and believers share it together. Grace is future – Jesus sustains this World by His Word of grace. Heb ch 1 v 4. Some countries seem to be receiving more grace at any one time than another or than another country. Every good gift comes from God. Satan only steals and robs and destroys. For Mozart and other composers it seems as if Heaven had dictated the music. Man has no right to complain at the level of grace given to him.

To some God gives saving grace so that they can serve His purposes. All are accountable at the end of their lives for the response to the gift of grace given to them. Col ch 4 v 6. “Let your speech always be gracious.” Mat ch 12 v 34. “Out of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Joel ch 2 v 13. “God is slow to anger and gracious and merciful.” Mercy and forgiveness go together. Someone who will not forgive is the very opposite of being gracious. Jesus was full of grace and truth. John ch 1 v 17. Paul recognised this in 1 Cor ch 15 v 9 – 10. “I am only what I am because of grace.”