Sunday, July 25, 2010

144) It is ridiculous for man to question God

Romans 9:19-21 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” (20) But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” (21) Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

The relationship between God and man is like that between clay and the potter. It is a vertical relationship. Human beings do not have the intelligence, understanding, purity, power, or anything else to question God about why he did anything in the creation of the universe and mankind.

Focus on Christ #144

Thursday, July 22, 2010

143) God is sovereign

Romans 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

The actions of God cause those for whom he has mercy to respond as they do. They are regenerated by the Holy Spirit and seek God and his righteousness as a result of God’s initiative. Those to whom God chooses to show no mercy are left in their sinful nature. They are slaves to that nature and many are further hardened by his wrath to suit his purposes. Perhaps God removed a restraining grace from Pharaoh that resulted in his actions. Whatever the dynamics are that bring about God’s will of decree, it is not up to human beings to question or quarrel with God’s methods or actions as Paul goes on to explain.

Focus on Christ #143

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

142) God causes his purposes to be fulfilled

Romans 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

Paul quoted Exodus 9:16 to illustrate the absolute sovereignty of God in all things including salvation. It was God who caused Pharaoh to be in his position of leadership, and it was God who foreordained the conditions that Pharaoh faced. Amazingly God worked his plan without violating Pharaoh’s will, which Paul explained in chapter six was in bondage to sin. Pharaoh was a slave to his fallen sinful nature and apart from God’s restraining him from following that nature; Pharaoh was bound to react in a way that would bring about God’s plan. The purpose is stated clearly by Paul and it was for God’s glory. God’s plan of redeeming a people [the elect] for himself and his glory proceeded directly through the unredeemed Pharaoh. While the people God physically redeemed from Egypt were mostly unredeemed spiritually, they were a part of God’s overall plan of spiritual salvation for the Israel of God. The physical nation of Israel that was formed at Mt. Sinai was a type or foreshadowing of the true Israel of God.

Focus on Christ #142

Monday, June 28, 2010

141) Salvation does not depend on human will or works

Romans 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Earlier in this passage [v. 8] Paul ruled out physical lineage as the cause of salvation. Now in this verse he rules out human will and human works as reasons. The New Testament in many places reports that unless God sovereignly intervenes and changes a person’s heart he won’t and in fact can’t come to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Human exertion or works has also been shown to be an impossible way to achieve salvation [Rom. 3:20]. Paul is clear that it depends on God to show mercy and give a new heart to all that He brings into the new covenant community of believers. Sovereign election through predestination is the cause of salvation and it does not depend on being a Jew, a child of a believer, human will, or works! Praise God that he gives mercy instead of justice to all that come to Jesus in faith and no one who comes is turned away [John 6:37].

Focus on Christ #141

Monday, June 21, 2010

140) God’s mercy is by sovereign decree

Romans 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.”

God is sworn to carry out justice upon sinful mankind. In order that he may have mercy on some, he executed his justice on his own son as a substitute for them. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for the sins of those that God was pleased to give mercy by his sovereign grace. Therefore, justice is completely upheld and no one receives injustice. None receive a free pass, but some receive mercy through the ministry and atonement of Jesus Christ. Although many people resent salvation being determined by God and not human decision, God made it clear to Moses that his sovereign decree would determine who would receive mercy.

Focus on Christ #140

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

139) God is not obligated to dispense universal mercy

Romans 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means!

Having just explained God’s sovereign election unto salvation, Paul answers the expected objection of whether it is fair for God to intervene and save some but no all of humanity. It is interesting to note that had the Holy Spirit through Paul not been teaching predestination and election there would have been no need for this verse at all. However, Paul is teaching eternal life is based on those whom God has predestined and effectually called unto salvation and God is not being unjust in doing so. Some men receive justice and some receive mercy, but none receive injustice.

Focus on Christ #139

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

138) God is sovereign in salvation

Romans 9:9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” (10) And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, (11) though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— (12) she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” (13) As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

From this passage it is apparent that God foreordained and caused Sarah to have a child at age ninety. It is also true that God’s purpose in election was and is implemented by his sovereign decree. While the twins were still in the womb, God ordained that one of Abraham’s physical grandchildren would be saved and one would not. Thus, Paul drives home the point with Abraham’s children and grandchildren that the Abrahamic Covenant of Promise is a covenant made with the spiritual descendants of Abraham and not his physical descendants. Therefore, there were no heirs to the Abrahamic covenant of promise in the Old Testament era based on physical birth and there are no heirs to the New Covenant in the New Testament era based on physical birth.

Focus on Christ #138

Sunday, June 6, 2010

137) Salvation is not based on ethnicity or one’s parents

Romans 9:7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” (8) This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

It is not the physical children of Abraham who are the children of God, but the children of the promise. Jesus Christ was the unique offspring that fulfilled the promise of an everlasting covenant between God and his spiritual people, and it was through the physical line of Isaac that Jesus Christ was born. All who are in Christ through faith are the spiritual children of Abraham and are the children of the promise. They are the sons of God and the recipients of the covenant promise of Genesis 17:7-8. God has never made any spiritual covenant or promise with Abraham’s physical descendents, Israel or any other group based on their ethnicity or birthright. Paul makes that very clear in this passage.

Focus on Christ #137

Sunday, May 30, 2010

136) Paul defines spiritual Israel

Romans 9:6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,

Paul explains the covenant that God made with Abraham in Genesis 17 did not fail. It did not fail because the offspring referred to in Genesis 17:7 were the spiritual offspring of Abraham and not his physical descendents. While some of his physical descendents were also spiritual descendents, most of them were not [Romans 9:27]. Therefore the covenant promise of Genesis 17:7 was made to the spiritual people of God and not to the physical descendents of Abraham. Beginning here and continuing through verse 13 Paul thoroughly explains the covenant of promise made with his elect [Spiritual Israel].

Focus on Christ #136

Sunday, May 16, 2010

72) Jesus paid the bill for the free gift (REPRINT)

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

All men are sinners at birth through their connection and representation with Adam, and this earns physical and spiritual death as all men become actual sinners. Due to God’s perfect justice, the wages of sin must be paid. However, God offers eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord as a free gift. By being in Christ Jesus by faith, the wages of a person’s sin were placed on Jesus Christ. Jesus received God’s justice on the cross of Calvary, and He provides the righteousness needed to stand before God for all who are in Christ Jesus by this faith. Believers should look to Christ for both salvation and sanctification.

Focus on Christ #72

Monday, May 10, 2010

71) Believers have been set free from sin by grace (REPRINT)

Romans 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

Grace not only saves sinners from the penalty of sin, it saves them from the power of sin. Believers are given a new nature that leads to a new focus and sanctification through the fruit of the Spirit. Instead of being slaves to sin and death, believers are slaves of God, and the end result is eternal life. While believers still struggle with sin, they are no longer captive to its power thanks to God’s grace. The Law has no power to defeat the slavery of sin and that is why Paul makes it clear that sanctification comes from the fruit of the Holy Spirit through grace and not from the Law carved on tablets of stone.

Focus on Christ #71

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

135) Ashamed of the unregenerate life

Romans 6:21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.

Those who have been set free from being slaves of sin are ashamed of the fruit that was produced during the time they were in bondage to sin and death. The distinction Paul is making is not between two different classes of Christians and physical death. No, the end result of being in bondage to sin and death is the eternal spiritual death of hell.

Focus on Christ #135

Sunday, May 2, 2010

134) Free from righteousness

Romans 6:20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

All people are slaves of sin before the power of God touches their hearts and gives them new birth through the gift of a new heart of flesh. This is the mercy and grace of God’s new covenant love. However, until this happens people are free in regard to righteousness. They have no inclination or reason to serve righteousness. They are basically conformed to the world by nature and even when they oppose the world it is from a motive of doing what is right in their own eyes rather than submitting to the righteousness of God. Those who are slaves to their fallen nature are free from the righteousness of God.

Focus on Christ #134

Sunday, April 25, 2010

133) All believers are sanctified

Romans 6:19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

Paul is emphatically stating that unregenerate sinners are not unwilling slaves to sin, but are more than willing to present their members to the slavery of lawlessness. As such the unregenerate are dead in sin and have no freedom or ability to refrain from presenting their members to impurity and sin. But now Paul is exhorting those who have been set free from sin by the power of God to present their members as slaves to righteousness. Having been set free from the slavery of sin, believers have the freedom and power to pursue righteousness, and Paul completely rejects any possibility of a Christian having two masters. While Christians still sin, they no longer willingly, regularly, and without remorse present themselves to lawlessness and impurity. There are no carnal or nominal Christians! A person is either a regenerated disciple of Christ being led by the Spirit of God or he is not a Christian at all. The fruits of sanctification flow from the internal Spirit caused desires of the new covenant and not from the external legalistic performance based old covenant.

Focus on Christ #133

Thursday, April 22, 2010

132) Set free from sin

Romans 6:17-18 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, (18) and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

A Christian is a disciple who obeys the teachings of Christ. This is caused by God’s grace and not by unaided human decision. The end result of God intervening with his grace is sinners are set free from sin. This doesn’t make believers sinless, but it does break the power of sin and enables and causes them to respond to a new master. This passage leaves no room for someone to be a carnal Christian and still be a slave to sin. If someone is a slave to sin, he is not a believer and is still the wretched man that Paul goes on to describe in chapter 7. It is God who saves sinners from their body of death and frees them from their slavery to sin.

Focus on Christ #132

Monday, April 19, 2010

131) We are all slaves

Romans 6:16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

The distinction Paul makes in this verse is between believers and non-believers. Paul makes the point that everyone is either a slave to sin or obedience that leads to righteousness. The obedience that leads to righteousness is a result of the new covenant promise of a new heart. Through regeneration by the Holy Spirit and the leading of the Holy Spirit, believers have a new nature that causes them to pursue righteousness through obedience to Christ. Please note the fruit of righteousness is a result of regeneration and not the cause of it.

Focus on Christ #131

Thursday, April 15, 2010

130) Grace is not a license to sin

Romans 6:15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!

Paul makes it crystal clear that being under grace instead of law DOES NOT mean believers are still slaves to sin and now have a license to sin. New Covenant grace provides believers with new desires and also the power to not sin. A person that professes Christ but is unrepentant and continues full steam ahead in all his sinful behavior has not been regenerated. He may claim to be a believer, but he is not under grace and is still under the wrath of God. Paul makes it clear that God’s grace does not make sin an acceptable option to willingly participate in without concern.

Focus on Christ #130

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

REPRINT....70) Grace defeats the law of sin and death

Romans 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Grace came by Jesus Christ and it came with power. When Jesus came into the world full of grace and truth, more was provided than just satisfying the legal requirements for salvation. In addition to his atonement for sin, Jesus also provided believers with the indwelling Holy Spirit. Under the law sin had dominion and sinners were slaves to sin, but under grace the power of the Holy Spirit sets sinners free from the slavery of sin [Romans 8:2]. Not perfectly of course, but sin will no longer control the rudder and direction of all who are in Christ Jesus by faith. Grace earns the victory over the law through faith [1 John 5:4].

Focus on Christ #70

Sunday, April 4, 2010

129) Present your members to God

Romans 6:12-13 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. (13) Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

While the born again believer is no longer a wretched man captive to sin, he still retains an ability to sin. The pre-conversion old man is no longer in control of a believer’s heart and actions, but he still has influence. Just as lobbyists work to influence congress, the old man is always there urging believers to participate in sin. However, God has brought believers from death to life and Paul is making it clear that believers are to present themselves to God as instruments of righteousness rather than give in to sinful passions. Believers are not perfect and sometimes stumble, but they follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in a positive direction of discipleship and sanctification. Paul thoroughly explains this in Romans 8:2-14 where he makes distinctions between believers and unbelievers. Anyone who continually follows his sinful passions and walks according to the flesh has not been regenerated. He may claim to be a saved carnal Christian, but he is deluded and bound for hell unless he repents and turns to Christ. Those who proclaim and encourage such false doctrine are very much like the serpent that deceived Eve by saying, “Did God actually say?” Christ did not die on the cross of Calvary so redeemed believers could live unchanged sinful lives and through the indwelling Holy Spirit that does not happen.

Focus on Christ #129

Friday, April 2, 2010

128) Christians are alive to God in Christ Jesus

Romans 6:11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Paul reminds Christians they must consider themselves dead to sin. This means they are not captive to sin as they were before God regenerated and gave them a heart of flesh to replace their heart of stone. In Romans 7, Paul relates how he was a slave to sin before his conversion when he was attempting to achieve his righteousness through law keeping. While the Romans 7 wretched man is a slave to sin and does not have the ability to do what is right, the redeemed regenerated Christian has the ability because he is alive to God. He is in Christ Jesus and has been delivered from his body of death. Although Christians still battle sin, they are not wretched men who are enslaved by sin with no ability to do right. Praise God that the law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death [Rom. 8:2].

Focus on Christ #128

Saturday, March 27, 2010

127) Death has no dominion

Romans 6:9-10 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. (10) For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

Jesus Christ destroyed the dominion of death through his resurrection and he will never die again. Sin and death had dominion over the human race under the curse of the law. Christ perfectly fulfilled the law and yet suffered the penalty that the law imposed for not fulfilling it. Therefore, all that are baptized into the death Christ Jesus through faith have had their sin debt paid in full by Christ, and are counted as righteous because of Christ’s perfect obedience to the law. Thus, the dominion of death was destroyed by Christ. This is the amazing grace that leads Paul to conclude that believers are not under law but under grace. Through this grace the wretched man that is captive to the law of sin and death [Romans 7:23] is set free from the captivity and slavery of sin through regeneration and the New Covenant promise of a new heart.

Focus on Christ #127

Monday, March 22, 2010

126) Death with Christ

Romans 6:8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Those that God redeems and regenerates by crucifying the old self will also live in a manner consistent with his new self. Believers will follow the lead of the indwelling Spirit and walk in a new direction. The old self [wretched man] was powerless to keep from sinning. The new man still sins, but lives a life that has been empowered to follow Christ and be conformed to his image [Romans 8:29]. The power of sin has been broken in all who are in Christ, and through the Holy Spirit the power has been given to not sin and live with Christ.

Focus on Christ #126

Thursday, March 18, 2010

125) God sets the prisoners free

Romans 6:7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.

When believers are baptized into Christ by the power of God, they have been set free from the penalty and power of sin. This is NOT speaking of death or the physical act of water baptism, but is speaking of the supernatural act of the new covenant promise of a regenerated heart. It is nothing less than a spiritual heart transplant. The new God given spiritual heart is free from the power of sin. The new creation in Christ is no longer captive to the law of sin and death. While he still sins, he is no longer the wretched man that is powerless to do what is right. The victory that overcomes the world has been achieved through faith in the Son of God [1 John 5:4].

Focus on Christ #125

Monday, March 15, 2010

124) United with Christ

Romans 6:5-6 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (6) We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

Sin was dealt with on the cross as believers who were children of Adam and in bondage to sin are raised in union with Christ. Christ dealt with the penalty of sin on the cross. When believers are baptized into the death of Jesus Christ, Christ also deals with the power of sin as the old self is crucified with Christ. The body of sin that was previously enslaved and ruled by sin is brought to nothing by the power of God. Those who are in Christ through faith are no longer enslaved to sin, but have become slaves to righteousness. Paul described his personal enslavement to sin before conversion in Rom. 7:13-25. In Romans 8:2 he described how the Spirit set him free from the law of sin and death. This freedom occurred at the moment he was baptized into Christ’s death and resurrected into newness of life.

Focus on Christ #124

Friday, March 12, 2010

123) Newness of life

Romans 6:3-4 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (4) 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.

Those who are in Christ have been baptized through saving faith into his death. This is not merely a baptism done by men with water, but is a baptism of regeneration performed by God that is immediately followed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers. Just as Christ died for sin, believers die to sin when the Holy Spirit makes a new creation out of hearts of stone that were once captive and slaves to sin. Through the power of God in this work of the Holy Spirit, believers are enabled to walk in newness of life. God gives a new nature to believers that cause this transformation as the old has passed away and the new has come. Amazingly some things they once liked suddenly become unappealing, and things that once were unappealing become things desired. While the old man strives to regain control, those who are in Christ have been set free from the power of sin.

Focus on Christ #123

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

122) Dead to sin

Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (2) By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

After thoroughly explaining justification by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone in the previous chapters, Paul asks the obvious question about sin. Paul answers his own rhetorical objection by stating that believers have died to sin and can no longer live in it. Why? What has changed and what does it mean to die to sin? This change comes through the power of God in regeneration and the gift of the indwelling Spirit. Believers are new creations in Christ with new desires. The power of sin has been broken in believers by the power of irresistible grace and the wretched man [Romans 7:24] has been delivered from his body of death. Sin is not completely eradicated, but believers are no longer captives to sin.

Focus on Christ #122

Monday, March 8, 2010

121) The fruitless branches are burned

John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

If anyone does not abide in Jesus, he is not in Christ and is not saved. Such a person bears no fruit and is taken away just like a branch that does not bear fruit. Many claim to be fruit bearing branches, but Jesus said you will recognize them by their fruits. Many falsely claim Christ, but only those who are truly in Christ will bear fruit. On that day, Jesus will tell those who falsely claim to be disciples “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

Focus on Christ #121

Friday, March 5, 2010

120) All Christian fruit comes from Jesus Christ

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

It is impossible to produce any fruit apart from Christ. Grace flows directly from Christ to believers as surely as nourishment from the vine flows directly to the fruit of the vine. Jesus reminds all disciples of all ages in this verse that there is no “I” in the fruit produced by disciples. Grace is the source of all fruit produced by believers. This union with Christ inspires and causes all the fruit produced by his disciples. Believers are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for them to do [Eph. 2:10]. Believers are created in Christ Jesus! If God creates believers, then how can any fruit production be credited to the free will of man in the slightest way? If human decision apart from Christ is needed in producing fruit then there is reason for boasting in this fruit. Not only is there boasting, but the success of the kingdom of God on earth would be dependent on human decision.

Focus on Christ #120

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

119) If anyone is in Christ he abides in Christ

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

Without abiding in Christ, there is no fruit. Jesus told this truth to his disciples and it is still valid today. If a person is in Christ, he abides in Christ and if he abides in Christ he bears fruit. Conversely, if there is no fruit in a person’s life that person does not abide in Christ. Such a person is not in Christ and has not been saved. It is folly to think that a person can be in Christ through the power of regeneration and the indwelling Holy Spirit and not abide in Christ. There will be times of apathy and neglect with very little fruit in the lives of believers, but never a time of total failure to abide in Christ. This verse is an exhortation by Jesus for his disciples to continually abide in him, and is not meant to infer that a true disciple may never abide in him.

Focus on Christ #119

Thursday, February 25, 2010

118) All true believers bear fruit

John 15:3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

Because of the word that Jesus spoke to his true disciples, they were clean [pruned]. His word was truth and his true disciples believed his teaching. This knowledge and acceptance of his doctrinal truth meant they were in Christ, clean [pruned], and already bearing fruit due to his grace. The branches that do not bear fruit have obviously been given time to bear fruit, but they didn’t and are removed rather than pruned. These branches are false professors of faith, because the very act of faith is a guarantee of fruit [John 7:38]. Therefore, if they were believers they would have borne fruit and been pruned rather than taken away.

Focus on Christ # 118

Sunday, February 21, 2010

117) Two kinds of branches

John 15:2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Many that claim Christ are not truly in Christ. They may appear to be fruit bearing branches of the vine because of their rhetoric and profession, but they are hypocrites and are still dead in their sin. This verse makes a distinction between the fruit of true believers vs. false professors of Christ. The false professors are unregenerate and incapable of bearing fruit, whereas, true believers bear fruit. God removes the false believers who bear no fruit, and the believers who bear fruit are pruned in order for them to bear even more fruit.

Focus on Christ #117

Thursday, February 18, 2010

116) The true vine

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.”

In this parable Jesus compared himself to a vine and talked about the fruit and branches of that vine. Jesus stated that he is the true vine and that his Father is the vinedresser. The branches of the vine are human beings and the fruit is the good works that are acceptable in the eyes of God. Since only believers can produce good fruit in the eyes of God, the pruning refers to the work of God in believers. Jesus is the true vine; so all other vines are false vines and cannot bear acceptable fruit in the eyes of God. Just as there are not many ways to “get in touch with the divine” as our modern pluralistic world claims, there are not many vines that bear this fruit.

Focus on Christ #116

Thursday, February 11, 2010

115) Peter’s Reminder

2 Peter 1:12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.

In verse 12 Peter clearly states his reason for mentioning these qualities. It is to remind believers of qualities they already know and have. They are established in the truth and are not like the unbelievers he mentioned in verse nine that profess Christ but are blind and lack these qualities. Peter is reminding them of qualities that true Christians have been given by the power of the new covenant promises through grace. They have been given a new heart and are led by the indwelling Spirit. In this passage [v. 3 thru 15] Peter is not advocating a works salvation through learning and practicing these qualities. He is reminding them of qualities true believers already have and is exhorting them to be diligent in practicing these qualities. The most effective Christians could be more diligent, but the least effective Christians do not lack these qualities altogether.

Focus on Christ #115

Sunday, February 7, 2010

114) For in this way

2 Peter 1:11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“For in this way” is referring to those who practice these qualities. It is those who have these qualities that will enter into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Does this mean eternal life is based on works and depends on whether or not a person practices these qualities? Absolutely not! Peter is just giving the characteristics of Christians. These qualities are present in all that are led by the Spirit of God and all true believers are led by the Spirit [Rom. 8:14]. Christians are not perfect, but they are new creations in Christ that God has made alive even while they were dead in their trespasses and sin. This truth points to the much more excellent new covenant that is enacted on better promises than the old covenant. “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts,” is the way Jeremiah puts it and the author of Hebrews explains in chapter 8. The new covenant gives the power that was lacking in the old covenant. Practicing the qualities Peter cites is not the cause of redemption, it is the result of redemption through the power of God. Praise God that Christianity is an internalized religion of the heart that is powered by God.

Focus on Christ #114

Thursday, February 4, 2010

113) An exhortation to be diligent

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

Calling and election are accomplished by God apart from anything a man has done, is doing, or will do. Therefore, there is nothing people can do to affect their calling and election. So, what does Peter mean? In verse 12 [two verses later] Peter stated he wanted to remind his brothers of these qualities even though they were established in the truth. Thus verse 10 is teaching and reminding Christians to continue in practicing these qualities. He is exhorting them to continue doing what their God given new nature has brought about in their lives. Except for knowledge, all of the qualities Peter mentioned in this passage spring forth from regenerated Christian hearts. Peter is giving that knowledge and reminding Christians to be diligent in their love, self control, steadfastness, virtue, etc.

Focus on Christ #113

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

112) True believers are not blind

2 Peter 1:9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

In this verse Peter is referring to someone who has professed faith in Christ for a while but is blind and lacks these qualities. Since throughout the NT being unsaved is characterized by being blind, it is unlikely that a born again Christian would be described by Peter as blind and lacking all of these qualities. No, Peter is describing someone who is unsaved and has not been given the gifts of the new covenant listed in Hebrews 8. All who are redeemed by the power of God are given a new nature that includes these qualities although these qualities may be in a stage of immaturity. Even though Christians may backslide from these qualities at times, they still have the qualities and will pick themselves up and press on in their Christian walk through the power of the indwelling Spirit.

Christians never forget they were forgiven and cleansed from their sin. Therefore, anyone who has forgotten the principle of forgiveness from sin was never a true believer. Christians are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, and are described by Jesus Christ as sheep that know Him, hear Him, and follow Him. The solution for those who are blind and lack these qualities is to turn to Jesus Christ in prayer and repentance for mercy, and place their faith and trust in Him alone for their salvation. When they do this they will find these qualities bubbling up from their new regenerated heart of flesh. They will not ever approach sinless perfection in this earthly life, but they will grow in grace as they follow the lead of the Holy Spirit.

Focus on Christ #112

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The fulfillment of the New Covenant

The following comment was made by my friend in Christ Mark [AKA Bluecollar] on the previous post. I think it captures the essence of sanctification by grace rather than a legalistic works sanctification that seems to be so pervasive in the American church today:

The fulfillment of the New Covenant is God the Holy Spirit living inside and moving us to walk in God's ways. Where man failed under the Old Covenant God takes up with the "I wills" of the New Covenant. Christians, both Jews and Gentiles, benefit from God's "I wills". Man failed under the Old, God triumphs in the New. I believe that the Church is now at the very appex of redemptive history this side of the eternal state.

The New Covenant is being experienced in an inaugural sense right now as men and women are now temples of God, indwelt by His Spirit, and walking (albeit faultingly) in His ways. He is now working in them both to will and to do for His good pleasure. His Spirit, working in concert with His word, is bearing fruit in lives. New desires arise from that heart of flesh spoken of in the New Cov. Christ-likeness is now the aim of the Christian life, thanks to the indwelling Holy Spirit.

That contrite heart God desires is now a reality. We are now to show forth the praises of Him Who has called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. We are now His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. The drive to be more like Christ is the product of the Spirit's indwelling.

Living lives to the glory of Christ is what brings on the rewards. In short, we are saved to serve, the Father having crucified us with His Son, that our bodies of sin might be destroyed. We are no longer slaves of sin, but slaves to God, and led by His Spirit. Having been conveyed by the Father into His Son's kingdom, the Son now reigns over us His subjects by the indwelling Holy Spirit. We all will go on to rewards, some having yielded 100 fold, some 60, some 30 - yet ALL will be rewarded. It will be grace upon grace - God having been the One to have enabled, to have led and to have energized the saint all along; and that saint getting the rewards for what God had done through him or her.

Friday, January 29, 2010

111) Christians have these God given qualities

2 Peter 1:8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Having been given hearts of flesh to replace hearts of stone, Christians are new creations in Christ. The old has gone and the new has come through their new birth and they have been given new internalized attributes by the power of the Holy Spirit. These qualities are gifts from God. As Christians grow in grace these qualities increase and keep believers from being ineffective and unfruitful. All Christians are different and have different gifts, but they all respond in varying degrees to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. While all Christians sometimes stumble and sin in their discipleship, they have the qualities that Peter lists in verses 5 through 7. When Christians are involved in sin they are anxious and remorseful until they repent. David points to this very condition in Psalm 32.

Focus on Christ #111

Monday, January 25, 2010


The following was a comment made by Mark [AKA Bluecollar] on the previous post that clearly explains the attitude and motivation of Christians:

Christ-likeness... Something that will never be attained this side of the grave, but is sought after by ALL regenerate folk due to their new nature. When we see Him we shall be like Him, yes; however this side of the grave our flesh gets in the way, yet it is still a prize to stretch yourself for, like a sprinter stretching for the finish line. Like what marks the grave of a certain mountain climber, "He died climbing". That will be said of ALL regenerate persons because their new nature longs for Christ-likeness... They all die while climbing towards Christ-likeness.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

110) Make every effort

2 Peter 1:5-7 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, (6) and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, (7) and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

These verses are an exhortation by Peter for believers to cooperate in their own sanctification. Grace through the indwelling Holy Spirit is the engine that drives sanctification, but believers are not mindless robots that are powerless to act on their own. They are new creations in Christ that are led by the Holy Spirit, but they are in control of their actions and behavior. Therefore, Peter tells believers to, “make every effort” and lists the desired attributes they should cultivate. Notice the list of attributes is not a legalistic do and don’t list, but are qualities that flow from the heart and are a reflection of internal ethical and spiritual character. They are an expression of the new covenant internal religion of the heart rather than the external religion of the Old Covenant. Peter points to the importance of knowledge. This Biblical knowledge enables believers to understand and follow the righteous leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Focus on Christ #110

Friday, January 22, 2010

109) New Covenant promises

2 Peter 1:4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

God has granted his precious and great promises through knowledge of Him. This knowledge leads to being partakers of the divine nature. Through being made new creatures in Christ by regeneration [knowledge], believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit [knowledge]. They are led by the Holy Spirit [knowledge] and this enables them to have the ability to escape from the corruption that is in the world [knowledge]. By being in Christ by faith New Covenant promises make it possible for believers to overcome sinful desires through the divine nature that is a part of their new nature. This is the grace that transforms sinners into believers and Disciples of Christ.

Focus on Christ #109

Monday, January 18, 2010

108) Sanctification through knowledge

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

The power of God is the source of all blessings. Believers are given all things that pertain to life and godliness from this divine source. How? ……Through knowledge of Him. Although believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and know God through a personal relationship, they should diligently seek knowledge by reading and studying the word of God. Jesus prayed that his sheep be sanctified by the truth and that God’s word is that truth. Christians are called to the glory of God and His excellence through knowledge. While all of Scripture is useful for knowledge in sanctification, the New Testament is particularly good for Christian sanctification through the Law of Christ, many exhortations on Godly living, and a greater revelation of grace through the much better new covenant of which Jesus Christ is the mediator. The law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Focus on Christ #108

Saturday, January 16, 2010

107) Knowledge multiplies grace and peace

2 Peter 1:2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

It has become very popular in America to discount, distort, minimize, and even ignore the facts about God and Jesus as revealed in Holy Scriptures. The bible reveals facts about our triune God that leads to understanding and truth. This truth is processed into knowledge of God and Jesus Christ that leads to grace and peace. It is a grace and peace that is not merely added, but multiplied. Obviously this grace and peace comes through knowledge of Scriptural truth and not the popular politically correct myths of the culture. Yet, we live in a time when even the clergy and leadership of entire denominations deny biblical truths including Jesus himself. When they affirm salvation apart from Christ through false religions, they deny Jesus Christ [John 14:6]. People can either be in saving relationship with Christ or they can be loved by the world, but they can’t be both. Look to the new covenant blessings in Christ and not to the world for grace and peace.

Focus on Christ #107

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

106) Faith is a gift of God

Ephesians 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.

Spiritual salvation is eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. The very faith to believe is a gift from God, and not of a person’s own doing. This faith comes after a person is made alive by the power of God as verse 5 states. Human works do not have any merit in the gift of eternal life, and no one can boast or claim any credit for receiving this gift because of their actions. Praise God that His grace replaces hearts of stone in spiritually dead men and gives them hearts of flesh. This is the new covenant in the blood of Christ and while salvation is offered to all, being in Christ by faith is the only one way to be in this covenant.

Focus on Christ #106

Thursday, January 7, 2010

105) The richness of grace

Ephesians 2:6-7 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, (7) so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

At the moment of faith regenerated believers are seated with Christ in heaven. This mercy and kindness will demonstrate in the coming ages the immeasurable riches of his grace toward those who are in Christ Jesus by faith. These early verses of Ephesians 2 point to the amazing power of God in salvation and to the total and complete assurance that those who have been touched by this power. While believers are not perfect or without sin, grace and the hand of God in both justification and sanctification have touched their very soul.

Focus on Christ #105

Sunday, January 3, 2010

104) But God

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, (5) even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

But God does take action with spiritually dead people and intervenes with grace through the work of the Holy Spirit. Because of his great love and mercy he quickens the hearts of sinners and transforms them from a state of spiritual death to spiritual life. Praise God that, through the new covenant mediated by Jesus Christ, grace upon grace is given to all that are in Christ Jesus through faith. Jesus Christ is the only way for human beings to receive the free gift of eternal life.

Focus on Christ #104