Monday Reverb

 

Paul and the False Apostles

11 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure[a] devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough. I think that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. I may be untrained in speech, but not in knowledge; certainly in every way and in all things we have made this evident to you.

Did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I proclaimed God’s good news[b] to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for my needs were supplied by the friends[c] who came from Macedonia. So I refrained and will continue to refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boast of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

12 And what I do I will also continue to do, in order to deny an opportunity to those who want an opportunity to be recognized as our equals in what they boast about. 13 For such boasters are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds.

Paul’s Sufferings as an Apostle

16 I repeat, let no one think that I am a fool; but if you do, then accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 17 What I am saying in regard to this boastful confidence, I am saying not with the Lord’s authority, but as a fool; 18 since many boast according to human standards,[d] I will also boast. 19 For you gladly put up with fools, being wise yourselves! 20 For you put up with it when someone makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or gives you a slap in the face. 21 To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!

But whatever anyone dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? I am talking like a madman—I am a better one: with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless floggings, and often near death. 24 Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters;[e] 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. 28 And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I am not indignant?

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus (blessed be he forever!) knows that I do not lie. 32 In Damascus, the governor[f] under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to[g] seize me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall,[h] and escaped from his hands.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 (NRSV)

Paul’s Visions and Revelations

12 It is necessary to boast; nothing is to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person — whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows — was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations.

Therefore, to keep[i] me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.[j] Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power[k] is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul’s Concern for the Corinthian Church

11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it. Indeed you should have been the ones commending me, for I am not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 How have you been worse off than the other churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

14 Here I am, ready to come to you this third time. And I will not be a burden, because I do not want what is yours but you; for children ought not to lay up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for you. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 Let it be assumed that I did not burden you. Nevertheless (you say) since I was crafty, I took you in by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Titus did not take advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves with the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?

19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves before you? We are speaking in Christ before God. Everything we do, beloved, is for the sake of building you up. 20 For I fear that when I come, I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish; I fear that there may perhaps be quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. 21 I fear that when I come again, my God may humble me before you, and that I may have to mourn over many who previously sinned and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness that they have practiced.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 11:3 Other ancient authorities lack and pure
  2. 2 Corinthians 11:7 Gk the gospel of God
  3. 2 Corinthians 11:9 Gk brothers
  4. 2 Corinthians 11:18 Gk according to the flesh
  5. 2 Corinthians 11:26 Gk brothers
  6. 2 Corinthians 11:32 Gk ethnarch
  7. 2 Corinthians 11:32 Other ancient authorities read and wanted to
  8. 2 Corinthians 11:33 Gk through the wall
  9. 2 Corinthians 12:7 Other ancient authorities read To keep
  10. 2 Corinthians 12:7 Other ancient authorities lack to keep me from being too elated
  11. 2 Corinthians 12:9 Other ancient authorities read my power

Lection Notes for July 4, 2021

Psalm 48:1-14 · 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 · Mark 6:1-13 · 2 Corinthians 12:2-10

The theme for this week is God is with us despite our flaws.

  • Psalm 48:1-14, our call to worship, reminds us that while people can let us down, God is our Guide who will never fail us.
  • David’s rise to power, as discussed in 2 Samuel 5:1-5,9-10, Paul tells the story about how weakness can actually be connected with power.

Beauty in Imperfection

2 Corinthians 12:2-10 (NRSV)

Kintsugi (pronounced kin-SOO-kee) is a Japanese art form that repairs broken pottery by mixing gold dust with lacquer. Instead of hiding the cracks, the art form highlights them. Kintsugi reportedly started around the 15th century in response to a pottery repair for the Japanese leader (called a shogun) that was mishandled by using ugly metal staples. By the 17th century, kintsugi was not only used for repair but also to decorate and make ceramics used for tea more beautiful.

Kintsugi is more than just aesthetics. It also is linked to Japanese philosophical ideas, such as wabi-sabi (pronounced WAH-bee-SAH-bee) which accepts imperfection as part of life and advocates seeing beauty in the imperfect.

When we think about our personal imperfections, we don’t want to highlight them with gold dust. We would prefer to keep them in the dark. However, social scientist and researcher Brené Brown believes that imperfection can be a gift. She’s written a book called The Gifts of Imperfection, and in that book, she links our imperfections with our ability to be vulnerable, and our vulnerability with our ability to connect to others.

Vulnerability is an English word that has a negative connotation. Most dictionaries define it as having a quality that makes you weak, easily hurt, or attacked. That’s the way most of us view vulnerability: a trait that seems to work against our survival.

As Christians, we struggle with the idea that we are enough. We know our “dark side,” and we somehow feel we’ve failed God by not having our flaws under control. It’s hard to be vulnerable about our struggles, especially in church, because we want people to think well of us. We want to be better.

But it’s there, in that place of being both very good and very flawed, that the apostle Paul speaks to us in 2 Corinthians 12. In this passage, Paul talks about a mystical experience he had and a weakness that was a point of vulnerability that God used.

What can we notice about this passage?

 I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. (2 Corinthians 12:2-7 NRSV)

Although Paul talks about this in the third person, as if it happened to someone else, he is evidently talking about himself. (Simply knowing a person who had a vision isn’t much of a basis for boasting, nor of being too elated.) Paul is, in an indirect way, saying that he had this vision, but that it is not a experience in which he can boast – it does not make him better than other people.

Paul had a mystical experience where he heard someone speak to him. This reveals that there is a time and space that is a mystery to us. Notice that Paul does not dwell on the experience itself. He doesn’t use the experience to set himself apart as “special.” By not sharing the details of this mystical experience, Paul emphasizes that our belonging isn’t affirmed by having a mystical experience but by our inclusion in Jesus Christ. He further emphasizes that God will do what it takes to keep us from becoming too self-focused so that we can keep our focus on Jesus.

Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NRSV)

Paul asked God to remove this undefined weakness from him three times, but God said that his grace was enough. Typically, we assume that “weakness” means something that we can’t do. While weakness usually refers to a physical ailment, it can also refer to a lack of courage or determination when faced with hardship. This might look like our human vulnerabilities and flaws, the eccentricities that can bother others and discourage us. Paul says that he will boast in this vulnerability because it is an area where others can see how Paul falls short even while he asserts that God is working through him.

In v. 9 where the NRSV translates “for power is made perfect in weakness,” power is being redefined. Power is found by admitting fallibility and working in spite of it. This is the essence of vulnerability: acknowledging one’s shortcomings while understanding that we can still be used by God to help others. As proof, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit love us just as we are, as shown in Romans 5:8. The Son of God didn’t wait for us to be worthy before he became a human through the Incarnation. In fact, the incarnation offers further proof that being embodied, being human, with all its weaknesses and vulnerabilities, is not an obstacle to God’s work.

The Expositor’s Greek Testament reports that the Greek word used in the latter part of v. 9 and translated “dwell” hearkens to the imagery of the Shekinah, the glory of God as it rested in the Holy of Holies of the Temple. Paul said that similarly, Christ’s power was staying in him.

But his point is that God’s power was perfected in Paul’s weakness. God’s power was able to be used in a right way because of Paul’s weakness. This reminds me of the lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s song Anthem:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Perhaps our “cracks” or weaknesses work both ways: they allow God to enter and work in us, and they are the way that his work is extended out of us (Christ in us, the hope of glory – Colossians 1:27). As Christians, we are witnesses to the world that God works in everyone despite their weaknesses.

Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10 NRSV)

Paul says that he is “content” with being vulnerable (which sometimes includes sufferings). Not hiding his weaknesses and vulnerabilities helps him preach the gospel of love for all humanity. He is a more effective Christian leader because he doesn’t have to hide his vulnerabilities, and he is more relatable because of those shortcomings.

Application:

  • Vulnerability is not weakness as we typically define it. It can be our best witness for the gospel. When we humbly acknowledge our mistakes and struggles, we are living proof of God’s grace and love.
  • Vulnerability can make us more effective as leaders. Whether we are parents, managers at work, or church leaders, being vulnerable helps our relationships. It isn’t easy, and it takes courage to admit that we don’t always have all the answers or to ask forgiveness when we misjudge. Letting others extend grace to us when we slip up reminds us of God’s grace to all humanity.
  • Vulnerability embraces truth and rejects secrets. When we think we have to hide parts of ourselves because they aren’t acceptable to God, we are weighed down with secrets. Vulnerability is based on the truth that humanity is imperfect but still very good in Christ and that the beautiful world we live in is imperfect, too. We reject the idea that we must hide our “shadow sides” from God, who knows us from our very conception and formed us in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16). We are held firmly by Jesus Christ, and we are made new in him (2 Corinthians 5:17-19). Believing we are loved —flaws and all— opens the door for the Holy Spirit to gently transform us.

Redefining weakness and reorienting our minds to see vulnerability as part of being human rather than a character flaw enables us to share the goodness of God’s grace with others. It makes us witnesses to the great love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for all humanity when God’s light shines through our cracks to illumine and encourage us and those around us.

For Reference:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carleysime/2019/03/27/could-a-little-vulnerability-be-the-key-to-better-leadership/?sh=6617222f783e

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/2_corinthians/12-9.htm


Small Group Discussion Questions

From the Sermon

  • Have you ever considered that your weaknesses or vulnerabilities could be used by God to draw other people to him?
  • If so, reflect on how comfortable you feel around someone who is not perfect vs. someone who seems to have it all together.
  • Can you think of a specific instance where being vulnerable has made you a more effective leader, parent, or employee?
  • Share about how your “lack” of perfection helped you to relate to others more effectively.

 


Calvinism 04

Irresistible Grace

God or Chance: Which is Sovereign?

 

Can sinners, who are dead in their trespasses and sins, come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus?

Since Christ died and rose so that Man could be saved, was it inevitable that the elect would believe?

Is God’s saving grace resistible or irresistible? 

Does God have the right and the ability to do what He wills?   

  • The answer to this question went to the heart of the debate concerning the nature and sovereign power of God.   At its core was a theological battle over the issue of sovereignty.  Who was sovereign: God or man?
  • The Calvinists answered “Yes, absolutely … for no one can resist His will” (Roman 9:19) If God chose you in Christ, you will inevitably and inexorably come to faith.
  • The Arminians, on the other hand, said “No. Man’s will is free, despite the Fall, and he can accept or reject God’s offer of grace.”
  • To the Calvinists, this view reduced God to a concerned by-stander and placed man in the ultimate position of sovereignty.  The “God” the Arminians fashioned was ultimately subservient to the will of man and some element of chance.  As one noted Reformed scholar observed,
  • “If an iota of chance is allowed into the universe, then God’s sovereignty is denied, and God is not God.” ~ R.J. Rushdoony, The Necessity for Systematic Theology

 

Efficacious (or Irresistible) Grace

In addition to the outward general call to salvation which is made to everyone who hears the gospel, the Holy Spirit extends to the elect a special inward call that inevitably brings them to salvation.

 

The eternal call (which is made to all without distinction) can be, and often is, rejected; whereas the internal call (which is made only to the elect) cannot be rejected; it always results in conversion.

 

By means of this special call, the Spirit irresistibly draws sinners to Christ. He is not limited in His work of applying salvation by man’s will, nor is He dependent upon man’s cooperation for success.

The Spirit graciously causes the elect sinner to cooperate, to believe, to repent, to come freely and willingly to Christ.

 

God’s grace. therefore, is invincible; it never fails to result in the salvation of those to whom it is extended.

 

The Holy Spirit Can Be Effectually Resisted

The Spirit calls inwardly all those who are called outwardly by the gospel invitation.

 

The Spirit does all that He can to bring every sinner to salvation, but, inasmuch as man is free, he can successfully resist the Spirit’s call.

 

The Spirit cannot regenerate the sinner until he believes; faith (which is man’s contribution) precedes and makes possible the new birth.

Thus, man’s free will limits the Spirit in the application of Christ’s saving work.

 

The Holy Spirit can only draw to Christ those who allow Him to have His way with them.  Until the sinner responds, the Spirit cannot give life.

 

God’s grace, therefore, is not invincible; it can be, and often is, resisted and thwarted by man.

 

How did the Synod of Dort decide in the matter? 

  • The Synod of Dort said that the grace of God is IRRESISTIBLE — that, as a result of His mercy and regenerating power, the elect will repent and believe in the Son.
  • God the Holy Spirit knows those who are chosen by the Father and given to the Son and, in due time, He regenerates them.

What is meant by saying God’s grace is irresistible? 

  • GOD’s initial act of grace – regeneration by the Holy Spirit – IS IRRESISTIBLE … BECAUSE THE OBJECT of God’s grace IS DEAD (and, therefore, cannot resist).
  • GOD’s subsequent act of grace – the inward call by the Holy Spirit – IS also IRRESISTIBLE … BECAUSE THE OBJECT of that aspect of God’s grace HAS BEEN PREDESTINED TO BE A MEMBER OF THE ELECT (and, therefore, must believe in order to become a member of the Elect).

 

The actual act of regeneration is monergistic – the work of God alone.  Nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else!

It was that initial act of God, in Irresistible Grace, that took us out of death into life and caused us to be new creatures.  In that act, persons are passive because they are dead.  However, the moment it happens they are not passive anymore.

Think of it this way:

  • The idea of being born is a process that begins with conception and ends with the actual birth. Before a person is conceived in his mother’s womb, he does not exist and therefore has no conscious thoughts!
  • And so it is with being born again of the Holy Spirit. Before a person is born again, he is dead to God.  In order to be born again, he has to receive life from God.

Note that, in answer to Nicodemus’ question, Jesus did not say repent and believe.

This grace of the Spirit in regeneration, like the wind, is powerful and irresistible; there is no withstanding it and the corruptions of a man’s heart are not a match for it.  When the Spirit works, who can resist?

 

This understanding led John to write in the introduction to his Gospel,

John 1:12-13 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

John 6 is a passage that speaks of Irresistible Grace.  When Jesus says that “no man can come to Me unless the Father draws him” we need to take note.  The word draw is a powerful word.  It was used of a drag net.  When fishermen would go out to the sea, cast their nets in, they would draw the fish.  This is a powerful descriptor of the work of Gods’ grace.

Good point!  Some have suggested that the phrase in John 6:44 – “No man may come to me unless the Father draws him…” – is a type of wooingBut the word means “to drag.”  It is the same Greek word is used in James 2:6, “Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?”

To say instead, “Don’t let the rich oppress and woo you into the courts” is, of course, absurd.  By rejecting Irresistible Grace, the Arminians made man and his will ultimately sovereign.

In an effort to satisfy man’s humanistic standards of fairness, God’s glory and power were inevitably compromised.  Implicitly, He was reduced to a mere vice-regent, roaming the earth, knocking on the doors of human hearts and hoping that people would see the wonder of His plan and accept Jesus as their personal savior.

It’s important to note that by “Irresistible Grace”, the Calvinists were in no way saying that people can not resist the grace of God. Quite the contrary. Unless God made us alive, not a single one of us would ever stop resisting it.

When we say “Irresistible Grace”, we are not saying that sinners do not resist Christ. We are simply saying that the Holy Spirit would never fail to bring those whom God hath elected to salvation.

That’s accomplished by opening their mind to understand divine truth, changing their affections so that they love that what they formally hated, and then releasing the power of sin in their will that they may respond and surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 1:12-13 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

  • Those who have been born as the children of God were born of the will of God

John 3:3 “Truly, truly … unless a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

John 3:6a “That which is born of the flesh is flesh…”

John 6:63a “… the flesh profits nothing.”

  • Being somewhat of a rationalist, Nicodemus wondered aloud, if it was left to man and his own flesh and ability, how could he be born again?
  • Jesus responded — in both John 3 and 6 — with the solution to this dilemma:

John 3:6b “… and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

John 6:63a “… it is the Spirit that quickens ….”

John 6:44 – “No man may come to me unless the Father draws him…”

  • The Greek word translated “draws” can also mean “drags” … similar to how it is used in James 2:6, which says, “Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts?”

Roman 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?”  (NKJ)

  • There is a will of God that cannot be resisted.

If God chose you in Christ, you will inevitably and inexorably come to faith.

John 15:16  “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you ….

1 Timothy 2:4  (God) who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge ….

 

Does God have the right and the ability to do what He wills? 

  • Well, consider the words from the prophet Isaiah:
  • Isaiah 46:8-11 “Remember this, and show yourselves men; Recall to mind, O you transgressors.  Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me,  Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,  And I will do all My pleasure.’… Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass.  I have purposed it; I will also do it.
  • One common perception is of God as a lonely, old man who’s up in heaven hoping that somebody turns to Him and Jesus as somebody who’s standing outside the door knocking, hoping that somebody follows Him.
  • The reality in Scripture, however, is that God goes after people whom He has sovereignly chosen.  He chose Paul, knocked him off the horse, and said, effectively, “I’ve sovereignly chosen you for this purpose – get busy.”
  • It’s a sovereign God in operation, not a lonely old man hoping people will follow Him.

Can anyone dispute the Creator’s right to do what He wills? 

  • The Arminian taught that when Man fell he was merely wounded and not dead, and so he’s still conscious and has a choice of whether to take the medicine.
  • The Calvinist, on the other hand, taught that Man died spiritually and, therefore, is not capable, by himself, of even choosing — much less taking — the medicine of God’s eternal life.   Like a corpse in a morgue, all he can do is wait for the autopsy.  He is not able to respond to the Holy Spirit’s call to repentance and redemption unless the same Spirit makes him alive.

 

General verses about Effectual Calling  

Ps 110:3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.

Mt 16:15-17 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

Lk 10:21-22 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Jn 6:37-40 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Jn 6:44-46 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.

Acts 5:31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 11:16-18 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.

Acts 13:46-48 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

Acts 16:13-15 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

Rom 8:29-30 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Rom 9:15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Rom 11:25-29 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; 27 “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” 28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Eph 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

 

The metaphor of ‘being made alive’ and being ‘born again’

Jn 1:11-13 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Jn 3:3-8 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Jn 5:21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.

Rom 6:3-4 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Col 2:13-15 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

2Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Titus 3:4-7 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Jas 1:18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

1Pet 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

1Jn 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

 

What is the difference between the outward call and the inward call? 

  • The outward call comes through our lips and our mouths as we proclaim the Gospel.
  • The inward call comes by the Holy Spirit … to those whom God is calling, as part of the election process.
  • The outward call is always invariably ineffective and ineffectual … because it can be resisted.
  • The inward call is always effective … because it is irresistible.

Why is the inward call necessary? 

  • The outward call never works by itself.
  • It is only when the outward call of the Gospel is accompanied by the inward call of the Holy Spirit that the heart is changed, the mind is opened, the will is transformed and the person responds positively.

Who receives the inward call? 

  • As was discussed in a previous section, election in Christ marks sinners to be recipients of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.
  • It is those persons who have been elected to be recipients of God’s grace that receive the inward call.
  • In short, it is the Elect who receive the inward call.

How does the inward call work?  

  • The inward call cannot work until the individual has been born again.
  • The very moment that God regenerates a person, raising that person from the dead (spiritually) and giving him/her new life, the person is able to start believing in Jesus Christ as Saviour.
  • In that split second, the person’s heart is changed … and he/she is enabled to start responding to the call of God … by believing in Jesus Christ, loving Him, repenting of sins and seeking to serve Christ.
  • It all begins, however, with an initial act of God’s irresistible grace.

What is required for someone to receive the inward call?

  • The person must be a member of the Elect.
  • The person must be regenerated (born again).

Why must a person be regenerated (born again)? 

  • John 3:3 “Truly, truly, I say to you, that unless a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
  • A man cannot see the Kingdom of God UNLESS he is born again.
  • Once the Spirit regenerates, the formerly dead sinner is now alive and comes to faith in Christ.
  • Here the Lord clearly identifies this quickening and the resultant ability to see and understand God’s kingdom as a spiritual rebirth, as being literally “born again.”
  • Nicodemus asked, “How this can be?”
  • Jesus responded by first acknowledging the problem:
  • “That which is born of the flesh is flesh…” ~ John 3:6a … and …
  • “… the flesh profits nothing.” ~ John 6:63a
  • Being somewhat of a rationalist, Nicodemus wondered aloud, if it was left to man and his own flesh and ability, how could he be born again?
  • Jesus responded — in both John 3 and 6 — with the solution to this dilemma:
  • “… that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” ~ John 3:6b
  • “… it is the Spirit that quickens ….” ~ John 6:63a
  • The Holy Spirit has to first come and regenerate the person who is dead in his trespasses and sins BEFORE he can, in the words of Jesus, “see” the Kingdom of God … or “enter” it.
  • But we will be saved only when God reaches into our hearts and changes them.
  • He is the seeker.  He is the one who is aggressive.  He is the one who reaches to us.
  • If it was up to our searching and our finding, no one would ever be saved, because no one would ever be found.
  • If we are saved, it is not because we found God … … it is because God found us … it is because He reached us by his Spirit and turned us around … it is because He arrested us and He brought us to salvation by His grace.
  • In fact, the Bible teaches that the heart of man is at enmity with God that we hate God.  The more we know about Him the more we will hate Him. Our heart has to be changed.

 

 

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