Reformation theology believes and teaches that man will never, of his own will, ever choose to believe in Jesus as Lord and come to Him to receive forgiveness for sins, and so be saved from the wrath that is to come from God.
They cannot do so for they are spiritually dead in their sins; enslaved to their sin and bound by Satan; and that they do only what their sinful and selfish will allows them to do. Being in this state of total depravity is the reason that the Bible teaches that no one seeks after God. Even Jesus says in John 5: 40:
“You will not come to me that you might have life.”
Basically, since this is the condition of man, God in His wisdom and love has chosen to save a people for Himself, even if no one deserves to be saved. So, God has chosen those who will be saved, and all He has chosen for salvation will come to Jesus to have life.
When I talk with people about the doctrine of election someone will always ask me, “what if I am not chosen?” My response is this. What makes you think that you are “not” among the elect?
It is not for us, you me or anyone, to know who are the elect. What we are to know is if whether or not we want to be among the elect and so be saved. If someone says that they do not want to be so, then they have no right to be upset if they are not; for they already believe what they want to believe.
Someone else might say, “But what if I want to come to Jesus and I am not among the elect?” Again, one needs to ask themselves “why” they want to come to Jesus and believe on Him, and how come it is that they want to do so?
Jesus said in John 6: 37
“All that the Father gives to me will come to me; and he that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.”
If you find that you have an urge to confess that Jesus is Lord, that you know you are a sinful person and want to be forgiven for your sins, and you believe that only Jesus can forgive you and save you from the coming wrath of God, and you believe in your heart that God the Father has raised Him from the dead know this. You can only do so because it is God’s will that you do so!
Think of this. In the second part of 1 Corinthians 12: 3 we are told:
“No man can say that Jesus is Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.”
Only they who have born again by the Spirit of God have the Holy Spirit living in them, and it is the Holy Spirit Who gives them the freedom to confess that Jesus is Lord. In fact, only by having the Holy Spirit can they understand the spiritual things of God, like the good news of salvation found only in Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 2: 14 we read:
“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.”
As you can see, unless one has the Holy Spirit in them they cannot understand the Gospel of Jesus, neither can they call Jesus Lord and to believe on Him as the Savior of their sins. Only they who have been born again will have the Holy Spirit in them, and only the elect of God will be born again.
They who choose “not” to believe in Jesus do so of their own will for it is the only thing their enslaved and sinful will allows them to do.
So, if you are worried that you are not among the elect the answer lies in you. If you are, the answer is already in your heart and in your mouth as you confess that Jesus is Lord and that you believe that He has been raised from the dead.
If you still have worries about being among the elect remember this from Acts 2: 21
“whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Can you do that? Do you have the desire to call upon the name of Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Remember what Jesus said, “ whoever comes to me I will not cast away”.
Will you not do so right now? Call upon Jesus and be saved. Then you will find out that “yes” you are among the elect of God, chosen to be forgiven for your sins and that you have been saved from facing the wrath of God which is to come on that great and final day of judgement.
Do you want to be among the elect? Then confess with your mouth that only Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that He was raised from the dead and you will be saved. Then you will know that “yes” you are chosen. That you are among the elect of God…
In Christendom there are two views of thought when it comes to keeping one’s salvation once they have been born again by the Spirit of God.
In short, they are Free Will and Election. Free Will salvation states that Jesus has done all He can in providing a blanket salvation that covers everyone and that now it is up to man to decide whether or not he will accept or reject the offer of salvation that Jesus gives. Basically man is responsible for his salvation because he must now do his part in receiving the salvation that Jesus has provided.
Since man is responsible for receiving salvation, by choosing, of his own free will, to accept or reject the offer, he places himself in the position of being responsible for keeping this salvation. Since it was by his decision to accept Jesus that he was saved, he now has to work daily to make sure he does not do or say anything that could cause him to lose it. In addition, he must also take care not to become complacent of his salvation and decide somewhere down the road to turn away from Christ and, in doing so, he would lose his salvation never to get it back again.
If you look at it in that respect you can see how one who believes in Free Will salvation really does not have any lasting assurance, or even peaceful assurance, of his eternal salvation still being with him when he dies. This is because it is his responsibility, by his power, that he must rely upon in order to keep the salvation that he chose to accept, that Jesus provided for all to receive.
The other view of keeping one’s salvation is that it is not by man’s power or will that this is done by it is due to the power of God that it is kept.
You see, in the doctrine of election it is God who looks at man and sees that spiritually he is dead to God. Un-saved man does not want to bow to the God of the Bible – Jesus. Un-saved man does not want God, does not look for Him and is actually at enmity with God. Basically, God sees that man, of his own will, will never chose to accept the offer of salvation because he really does not believe that he needs to be saved, that he has been good enough to get into Heaven on his own goodness.
So, God, in His great desire to have a people of His own, chose from before the beginning of time who would be saved and, in His time, they come to Jesus for forgiveness and they do so willingly. This in itself is another story for another time.
What this means, however, is that under the doctrine of Election it is God’s responsibility not only to save someone it is also His responsibility to keep that person saved. In a section of 1 Peter chapter one is a little known verse that so many gloss over that explains this well. However, in order to understand this you must read the verse in its context; which we will now do.
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you(the elect), 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In writing to the pilgrims, Peter calls them the elect (select, chosen) and in talking about their salvation he finishes with saying that it has been made ready for them, for their arrival in Heaven, and that they are being kept by the power of God until then.
This way, since salvation under the doctrine of election is the responsibility of God in saving they whom He choses, it is also God’s responsibility to keep them saved. And, many time Jesus made the comment that of all that God the Father has given Him He would not lose any of them; not one soul will be lost whom Jesus has saved.
Since it is the responsibility of God to save whom He wills, it is also God’s responsibility to keep them saved whom He has chosen for salvation. To have this knowledge that it is God who works in me to will and to do of His good pleasure provides for me, as it should for all who have been saved by His power, great assurance of my eternal salvation because it does not depend on me in keeping my salvation because I am being kept saved by the power of God.
Salvation, from start to finish, is all of God. It is by His will that anyone is saved and it is by His will that they whom He has saved will be kept saved.
Jesus has given us the promise that “ALL whom the Father has given Him will come to Him and that He will not reject any of them, and that He will keep them until the end and that He will not lose not even one of them.”
I guess the question now is… who is responsibility for your salvation and for keeping it?
Trust is a word that is not used that much in biblical teaching these days, yet it is central to the faith of all of God’s elect. For without faith no one would be able to trust in the Lord, and the level of faith that one has will determine how deep is their trust in God.
One of the first verses that I ever learned as a new disciple of Jesus is the following from Proverb 3: 5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Once learned, however, I started to wonder about how does one trust and from where does it come? In looking up the definition of “trust” I learned that, basically, it is a level of confidence that someone has in another person; confident in the fact that what someone has said they would do they will actually do.
So, the question is this, “how does one gain trust?” If we believe what we are told from someone in whom we have faith that they speak truth, will we not trust in them to do what they say? But wait a minute. From where comes this faith? Where does it originate?
In thinking this I remembered another verse that was one of the early ones that I took as a guide in growing with Jesus in my walk with Him. It came from Hebrews 11: 1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Faith – the substance of things hoped for. It is evidence that generates our trust. Here we can see the connection. Depending on our level of faith will determine how deep is our trust. Where, then, do we get this faith?
Here is where I like reading the 1599 Geneva Bible, because in it the translation makes more sense, and I believe is more accurate, than any modern language. One verse that is in all translations is this – Romans 10: 17
Then faith is by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Knowing from where faith comes sure helps because our faith – faith that we think we have – is considered as nothing. Unless God gives us the ability to hear and understand the Word of God, we will not grow any faith, and only perfect faith is the faith that God will accept; for we are imperfect people and any faith that we have is an imperfect faith. If we cannot generate any faith that God will allow from where, then, does this faith come?
In Romans 3: 20-22 we read (pay special attention to verse 22 and the parts that are in bold lettering)
20 Therefore by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the Law cometh the knowledge of sin.
21 But now is the righteousness of God made manifest without the Law, having witness of the Law, and of the Prophets,
22 To wit, the righteousness of God by the faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all that believe.
Now you might think that this is a lot to read but it shows from where the “faith” originates that we need to not only believe in Jesus but to also “trust” in Him as we grow and walk with Him.
We are given the “faith” of Jesus, which is a perfect faith and the only faith that God will accept. Think of this. We come to God and we say that we have our own faith by which we believe. Another one comes and says “Lord the only faith that I have to offer is the faith of Jesus given to me so that I could believe”. Which faith do you think God the Father will accept?
Which one would you accept?
When we come to Christ and bow to Him as Lord and receive Him as Savior we can only do so by faith; faith that we cannot generate because we are spiritually dead and can do nothing to please God. So we are given the gift of faith with which to believe:
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God – Ephesians 2: 8
With this gift of faith, faith that comes from Jesus, we are not only given the ability to believe in Him but we also learn to “trust” in Him. In our walk with Jesus we will learn to have confidence that He will do what He says He will do, and it is with the “faith of Jesus”, given as a gift, with which we can then live our lives in trusting the Lord with all our hearts, not trusting in our own understanding, and in all things that come our way – the highs and the lows, the good and the bad, the rough path and easy road – and in “all” of these things we will have the faith to trust in God no matter what the situation.
So, the more “faith” that we have, the faith of Jesus that was given to us as a gift, the more “trust” we will have in the Lord our God. Faith and trust go together. You cannot have deep trust without perfect faith. Faith is a gift. God takes the faith of Jesus and gives it to us and with this perfect faith we can have trust in our Lord. When we “Trust in the Lord with all our heart” we do so with the “faith of Jesus”.
As we grow in our walk with our Lord we will begin to see our faith increase from the highs and lows that we experience, as we see the Lord working in our lives in all our ways, and we will also notice, and acknowledge, a deeper trust in our Lord in reigning over our lives, and we will find ourselves heading down paths that we normally have not taken with a trust that says, “wherever you lead I will follow”.
Faith is a gift and trust is the evidence of that faith. Why would anyone want to trust in their own imperfect faith when the faith of Jesus is the only true faith that provides us with the ability to trust in our Lord?
So, how deep is your faith? I guess it will depend on whose faith you are trusting…
If you are on social media of any kind I am sure you have seen them; so-and-so is sick, hurt, dying, etc. please pray. Then comes the responses – praying, sending prayers, pray they get well, etc.
My first thought when I see these is, do these people actually pray? If they do, how do they pray and for what do they pray? Then I wonder, what if God does not answer their prayer, then what?
When one realizes “who is prayer for?” the answer becomes quite simple.
Most people, I was one of them, when they pray and their pray is not answered they will think that maybe God did not hear them or that they prayed all wrong or maybe their faith is not strong enough to sway God to their idea of what is needed; and therein lies the problem.
Huh? I am sure many of you thought that, but when you realize “who is prayer for?” it will dramatically change your response to requested prayer, how you pray and for what it is that you should pray.
First of all, one must realize that anyone who is not a disciple of Jesus, God is under no obligation to respond or to even listen to their prayer. So, if only Christians are given the right to pray, how then should they pray? Again, once we know “who is prayer for?” we will see how it is we should pray.
First, we should know a basic characteristic of God. In Daniel 4: 34, 35 we read the following from Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon:
Nebuchadnezzar Praises God In Prayer
34 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation.
35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?”
Read verse 35 again and let it sink in.
Second, knowing the basic characteristics of God will go far in understanding what and how to pray to Him, and what it is that we can expect.
In 1 John 5 :14, 15 God tells us, through the Apostle John, the following great piece of information:
Confidence and Compassion in Prayer
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
Again, read these two verses and reflect also on them. Especially the phrase, “if we ask anything according to His will.”
In these verses from Daniel and 1 John we have a clear picture of our influence on God and what it is that God looks for in prayer. Knowing these will make it clear the answer to the question – “who is prayer for?”
In short… God does what He wills among mankind and when we, His disciples, pray according to His will we can be assured that He will hear us, and our prayer will be answered.
When someone asks for prayer we can respond as we see done so often on social media sites but in most, if not all, cases all we are doing is giving false hope to the one asking for prayer. For the petition that we are asking may not be God’s will and, as we have seen, God does His will among us and there is none of us who can hold back God’s hand from doing what He wants.
Think of this. Why would God listen to man, who has no righteousness of His own and is selfish in his ways, and do what he asks? Do we know better than God what the best answer to prayer should be?
It is not always God’s will to heal, restore or make wealthy any one of us. Anyone who reads and studies God’s Word will have seen and read verses that speak to these moments. While God can, and does, intervene in one’s life to heal, restore or make one wealthy, He mainly works through our daily lives, through the people we meet and in incidents of His own choosing, and only when He knows the outcome and what it is that He wishes to accomplish. Then, and only then, does He intervene in any of these affairs at times of His own choosing.
Third, in Philippians 2 : 13 God, speaking through the Apostle Paul, tells us:
Living In Our Salvation Through Prayer
13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
While God was speaking mainly of living our lives once saved, would He also not do the same in our daily lives as He leads us in the way we should go? We are finite beings and, as such, we do not know God’s explicit will in all situations.
So, when we respond to a request for prayer we should first realize that we do not know what God’s will is for the outcome. Second we should try to understand – and may never know – what God’s will might be, and third we must submit to His will and realize that what the person who ask for prayer wants, and what it is that we want, may not be what God wants.
In short – Prayer is practicing the presence of God.
When we come before God in prayer it is first to focus our attention on Him, as Jesus did when He prayed, “Our Father in Heaven, “hallowed by your name.” God is all-knowing, all-seeing and is anywhere and everywhere.
We should look to His glory, His perfection, His wisdom for He knows the end from the beginning, and what is best for anyone and everyone in any and all situations. It is God Who works in us to will and to do for His good pleasure and it is God who works “all” things for the good of those who love Him. Even the Holy Spirit, when he intervenes on our behalf, He does so according to the will of God the Father.
Yes, we should come to God with our thoughts, our feelings and what our desires are, but we should do so in respect to God and with the understanding that what we want may not be what He knows is best.
You see the answer to the question “who is prayer for?” is “US”. We are the ones for whom prayer is for. Prayer is to bring us into the presence of God, to fall at His feet with our worries, our concerns and our needs along with praise, adoration and worship. We should cry out to Him for help, for guidance and for wisdom to know and hopefully to understand what God’s will is in all of this.
Coming to God in prayer is the greatest moment in a disciple’s life. We can talk directly to Him knowing that He hears us and we can trust in Him with all our hearts and to try not to cling to our own understanding of things, and to acknowledge Him as the one Supreme Being who alone can answer prayer in a way that He knows what is best; for us and for the one for whom we pray.
When we are with God and when we trust in Him for the outcome of our prayers, only then will we have any peace. Peace that will be with us even when the outcome to our prayer may not be what we wanted. If we cannot praise God when our prayers go against what we wanted, how genuine can it be when we praise Him only when things go right? You see, we must trust God for knowing what is best for us, and for the one for whom we pray, no matter what the outcome.
Prayer is not for God; to get Him to do something. He already knows what He will do, even before we ask. Prayer is for us, that is who prayer is for. It is to bring us to Him to be in a more loving, closer and trusting relationship, and to bring peace into our lives even when we are in the midst of turmoil that we do not understand.
So, when someone asks for prayer instead of saying you will pray, actually go to God in prayer. Tell him your desires and wishes and concerns. Praise Him for the ability to be able to come to Him in person and thank Him for His listening to you, and then let Him know that you also realize that what you want may not be what He has already planned to do. Because what we do know is that God understands and God does what He wills among us because of His love for us, and He does so for our good and for His glory.
Who is prayer for? It is for us, God’s children. To grow in our love, our trust and in our praise of Him as we, too, can be like Jesus and say to our Heavenly Father, “not My will, but Yours, be done.” and then rest in the peace that passes all understanding that He will give to us as assurance of His love towards us. What better reason could there be for prayer than in knowing and experiencing God’s love…
At night Jesus receives a visitor; it is Nicodemus, a Ruler of the Jews. During their conversation Jesus tells Nicodemus that unless one is “born again” not only will he not see the Kingdom of God but he will not be allowed to enter.
Imagine that! Of all of the things that someone can do to try to be allowed into Heaven they can only do so if they are “born again”. The question is this:
- What does it mean to be “born again” and how does one accomplish that? How do we receive this “gift of life”?
If one needs this experience – to be “born again” – that would insinuate that one is somehow dead. Indeed we are dead, spiritually dead to God because of our sinful nature. Our sins separate us from God and we do not want God in our lives. We love our sin and our way of life. We do not seek God nor do we even desire to do so. And, even if we did, we would search for a God that would fit our needs, our desires, our wants. One that would allow us to continue living as we are but allow us into Heaven, if we are good enough. I have even heard people say that, “God is so loving, He would never send me to Hell and would forgive or overlook my “bad” points and would let me into Heaven to be with Him.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. As Jesus said, “unless you are “born again” you will not be allowed into Heaven.” But, if we are dead, how do we become “born again” if we do seek God or want Him on His terms? We are dead and we cannot do anything.
In Colossians 2: 13 we read the following:
13 And you which were dead in sins, and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him (Jesus), forgiving you all your trespasses,
Here we see that it is God who makes us alive having forgiven us for our sins. But, do we not do something in the process? Should we not come to Jesus to ask Him to forgive us and to “accept” Him as our personal Savior? Actually, there is nothing in the Bible about anyone “accepting” Jesus as a personal Savior. In fact, in John 6: 44 Jesus says the following:
44 No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him:
This is a simple, but a very important, statement by Him. No one, neither you, me nor anyone can come to Jesus on our own unless we are drawn by God the Father. Here is a good example of how this works.
Remember the story of Lazarus? In short he died. When Jesus, Who loved him, came to his grave He asked that they remove the stone from the opening. Then He did the most remarkable thing, He specifically called “Lazarus” and ordered him to “come forth”. Question… Being dead, did Lazarus have any ability at all to obey the command to “come forth”? Of course not. Lazarus was dead and was not able to do anything at all until… Until he was first given life so that he could respond; he was given life, he obeyed the command of Jesus and he “came forth” out of the grave.
The same goes for anyone who is drawn by God to “come forth” to Jesus. We can only obey the command to come forth after we have been made alive, that is, “born again”. A good explanation of this can be found in Ephesians 2: 4 – 5
4 But God which is rich in mercy, through his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead by sins, hath quickened us (born again) together in Christ, by whose grace ye are saved,
It takes God to make us alive so that we can respond, just like Lazarus needed to be made alive so that he could respond. Once having been made alive (born again) we also need the will, the desire and the ability to come to Jesus for forgiveness for our sins, and to trust in Him for our salvation; so that by what Jesus has done for us will we be allowed into Heaven. Once having been “born again” only by faith can we do so, and here is where faith becomes the “gift of life”.
In Ephesians 2: 8 – 9 God tells us:
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast himself.
God gives us the gift of faith by which we can believe on Jesus and to come to Him for salvation, trusting in Him as the only one who can provide for our eternal security with God in Heaven. Faith is not something that we can do on our own, we cannot do anything to generate faith as it needs to be given to us as a gift, a gift of life, so that we cannot boast about how “we” were able to save ourselves by creating our own faith by which we believed.
The Father draws us, makes us alive spiritually – that is, the act of being “born again” – and gives us the gift of faith that is needed to believe. It is by this gift of faith – this gift of life – that we receive Jesus as Lord and to trust in Him as Savior for providing salvation (forgiveness for our sins) by what He has done through His death, burial and resurrection from the grave, and to insure our eternal life in Heaven with God.
Yes, faith is a gift as we are told in Ephesians. Without this gift of faith we would not believe and come forth unto Jesus our Lord and Savior. This gift of faith truly is a “gift of life”.
The basic meaning of “discrimination” is prejudice, bigotry, bias, intolerance, etc. Without a proper realization of what it means to discriminate against something or someone how can it be told that discrimination is real and that it is a clear and present danger.
The 1st Amendment of the Constitution begins this way:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
The Bible is the guide for how Christians are to live while in this world, and the 1st Amendment guarantees our rights in living out our lives as guided by the Bible. The problem arises when secular society sees differently on whether the Bible or secular humanism should rule the lifestyle of the average citizen. As the Church has become less important in the societal life of the average citizen so has the influence of the Bible become less important as a guide for morality, and because of that so has the outspokenness of Christians become no longer welcomed.
The decline of Christian influence because of the increase of secular humanism has now made Christianity irrelevant in the average life of the non-Christian in the United States. Thus what was once considered immoral or unnatural has now become the norm and is now the leader in how the average person is to view their lifestyle. In most cases, as long as love is involved, it is OK to now do what the Bible calls sinful because society says it is OK to do.
This is where discrimination comes to the fore. Here is an example. Secular society says that homosexuality is OK. After all, they love one another and they should be able to marry like heterosexuals. The Bible, however, says much about the homosexual relationship but let us look at some verses from the New Testament. In Romans 1: 26-27 we read:
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
So, Christians, “born again” Christians, see homosexuality as an unnatural act, and one that God says is a sinful activity. Secular society says that it is OK. What was once seen as evil is now seen as good and for that reason Christians have no right in “judging” others in a relationship that is now deemed “natural”. Basically, we are being told to stop spreading ridiculous ideas about homosexuality being sinful. They tell us that we should embrace this movement and allow it to go on, no matter what we believe, and to refrain in protesting in our responding to it being forced upon us, even though it goes against our religious beliefs to participate in it in any way that acknowledges its legitimacy, and by doing so we are being discriminated against and are looked upon as being intolerant bigots.
This clearly is a violation of our 1st Amendment rights in being denied our God-given, and Constitutional guarantee, to freely exercise our religious beliefs by refusing to participate in this activity in any way that would make it look as a legitimate activity instead of it being a sinful activity as proclaimed by God and the Bible.
As for homosexual marriages, in Matthew 19: 4-6 Jesus said the following:
4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Clearly, Jesus says that a marriage is to be between “a man and a woman”. Jesus also stated that “what God has joined together, let no man separate.” By secular society saying that homosexuals can legally get married is to go against Jesus (who is God in flesh) by separating what God has joined together by willfully disobeying God in so doing.
Again, by forcing Christians to participate in a homosexual wedding, even if they are only forced to provide a service as part of the activity, is to violate their 1st Amendment right to refuse to engage in an activity that legitimizes this un-natural activity, one that God says not to do and, in being forced to do so, they are being discriminated against by that very act.
Yes, discrimination is being done in a big way, covered by a secular society crying foul for the “civil rights” being denied of people engaging in an activity that God says is an un-natural and sinful activity, and doing so by using secular law which they make superior to God’s Law.
In short, you are guilty of discrimination against Christians and you are in violation of their 1st Amendment right to freely exercise their religious beliefs. What is worse, you are willfully disobeying the commands of God in allowing this activity to take place.
Back in the 80’s I was an Ordained Elder and, on what was known as “Laity Sunday”, I had been asked to bring the message. So I selected a topic about “Finding Rest In A Busy World” and I preached a sermon on the following verses from Matthew 11:
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
I felt that it was a good sermon and that it got the point across about resting in Jesus from the hustle and bustle of the busy world. In the years that followed that verse kept bothering me and I kept thinking that I was missing the true spiritual aspect of those verses. Well, the other day it came to me what I do believe is the real meaning of what Jesus was saying.
Yes, we can find rest when we bring all of our cares and woes to Him in prayer, and He will give us peace of such a nature that it will give us relief from worry in a way that allows us to rest in our trust for Him. However, there is more, a much deeper meaning that we find in these verses. The two key words at which we must look, and compare with other scripture verses, are the words “labor” and “rest”.
The word “labor” actually means to be wearied from working hard, toiling, etc. That I could understand but what was missing was working hard at what? What is it that Jesus is talking about from which we should stop working hard in doing? That is the question and it has taken me quite a long time in noticing what it is about what Jesus is talking.
Actually the thought of what it is, to which Jesus is alluding, came to me when I was reading, again for the umpteenth time, from the book of Hebrews in chapter four. First in Hebrews 4: 1 we read the following:
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.
Then, in verse ten of chapter 4 we read this:
For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
It was at this point that I could feel I was at the very edge of seeing what it is about what Jesus is talking, and it was then that I remembered what Ephesians 2: 8, 9 says:
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
There it is… “not of works”… ! Do you see it? When we are saved it is not because of any works that we have done but by faith given to us with which to believe. In other words, we cease or “rest” from our works, or from trying to earn salvation and just trust in Jesus for having done for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
In the salvation of anyone we are to rest from working at being saved and just trust in Jesus for saving us and, in doing so, we will find rest for our souls. We have this promise of entering into His rest just by “resting” from laboring or toiling at our works in trying to be saved. As in Hebrews 4: 10, when we are saved it is because we have “ceased from our works” and just enter into the rest given by Jesus.
By resting from our works of righteousness, that we thought we could do, and trusting instead in the works of Jesus, we will find that by entering into His rest we will find rest for our souls in our salvation.
In short, just stop trying to earn salvation by your works, instead rest by faith in the finished works of Jesus, and you will find true rest for your souls.
Resting is as simple as admitting that we cannot save ourselves and seeing the need to bow before Jesus to proclaim our sinfulness, to call out to Him and confess that Jesus is Lord, and that you want to rest from your sinful works and instead trust in Him for forgiveness. Only by doing so can one have the rest that Jesus promises.
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Will you not now stop from your works and look to the rest that Jesus gives? Will you not proclaim Him as Lord and believe that God has raised Him from the grave? Take His love and forgiveness upon you and follow Him. Just trust in Jesus and enter into the rest that only Jesus can give. The promise remains, even to today, for entering into His rest. Do not resist and come up short of entering.
Stop trying to earn salvation. Be released from the feeling of guilt. Enter into the rest that Jesus will give to all who call upon Him as Lord. Only then will your soul find true rest.