Of Our Eternal and Present Reality

March 7, 2010

Gospel

I think the stark contrast between the Church as it is today and the Church as it existed after the reformation is the understanding of God’s Holiness, Purposes, and Will.  Take a look at the Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter three:

I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions; yet has He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.

IV. These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.

V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto; and all to the praise of His glorious grace.[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=westminster+abbey&iid=7696182″ src=”7/1/5/b/Westminster_Abbey_London_2c4d.jpg?adImageId=11087555&imageId=7696182″ width=”234″ height=”353″ /]

VI. As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

VII. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.

VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election.  So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.

A rush of thoughts flood my mind when I read this.  What can I say to a God who has elected me, chosen me, decided He wants to shed His magnificent Grace and Favor upon lowly me, a man born into sin with no hope of ‘survival’ apart from the involvement of God to my salvation?  How does a man comprehend that God has ordained and set all things in order, that everything will flow towards the accomplishment of His Purposes set in time immemorial?  Yet, here I am, the doctrine of second causes in effect, I am instructed to act as God would have me to act.

Our reality, those of His Church, was, is, and forever will be found in Christ.  We have sinned, for sure, and have fallen short.  We have brought everything upon ourselves that a life of sin yields.  We, certainly, at times in our life feel as thought we are falling short.  But, in reality, our growth in Christ is right where God intends it to be at this moment.  A Holy God, working all things together for our good.  There would be no hope for us if Christ had not lived a life free from sin, if He had not died in our place, if He had not secured our Salvation,….but that He would, was ordained before creation.  It boggles my mind to think that when faced with temptation, I have a choice to obey or not,…but whatever I choose it is in concert with and indeed part of the plan of God.

More thoughts…..such wonderful knowledge this is, but it is knowledge that needs to be handled carefully.  We are required to apply the means of  Grace to our lives: worship, prayer, bible study, fellowship.  We are told to be ready, aware, and sober; working out our faith with fear and trembling.  Sanctification is wholely a work of the Holy Spirit, but we’re to labor with Him towards the perfecting of our faith.  Through it all, though, I can’t help but feel a sense of awe, respect, fascination, love, and humbleness before God who chose us, loves us, and treats us as prized possessions.

Comments welcome….

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