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What’s So Great About the Doctrines of Grace?

What’s So Great About the Doctrines of Grace?

By Richard Phillips

Free kindle book for a limited time

In What’s So Great About the Doctrines of Grace?, the Rev. Richard D. Rick Phillips shows that the doctrines of grace, those theological tenets more popularly known as the five points of Calvinism, are comforting, faith-strengthening, and humbling teachings. In six short chapters, Rev. Phillips demonstrates conclusively from Scripture that this view of salvation exalts God and makes plain His great love for man, which drove Him to do all that was necessary to redeem a people for Himself. In his opening chapter, Rev. Phillips cites the calling of Isaiah the prophet to show that a proper understanding of the sovereignty of God leads to a willingness to serve, a humble obedience to God s commands, a holy boldness, and a firm reliance on sovereign, saving grace. Then, over the next five chapters, he deals with the five doctrines of grace one by one-total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints providing thorough explanations, answering objections, and showing how the doctrines advance Christian living. What’s So Great About the Doctrines of Grace? is a compact, highly readable treasure chest of scriptural wisdom.


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Tim Challis’s Review of “Burning Down ‘The Shack'”

The book The Shack by William P. Young has been record breaking for a multitude of reasons not the least of being on the bestseller lists for almost two years.  You would think the book’s popularity would have decreased by now but it hasn’t.

Tim Challis  has reviewed a new book that points out the fallacies in The Shack, written by James De Young called Burning Down ‘The Shack’: How the ‘Christian’ Bestseller is Deceiving Millions.

De Young believes that Young’s belief in universal reconciliation is absolutely crucial to anyone who would truly wish to understand The Shack. It is the key that makes sense of the book and the theology it contains. Though far from the only theological problem with the book, it is the one that makes sense of the others.



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Men Chosen By God

All it takes is just reading the Bible to see that God choose people, not just Israel or the church.

Abraham in Genesis – God chose him and spoke to him.  Abraham did nothing to deserve his calling.  Abraham was chosen.

Nehemiah 9:7 (ESV) You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and gave him the name Abraham.

Israel was chosen by God not because they chose God, nor because of any good in them but because God chose them and loved them.

Deuteronomy 7:6-8 (ESV)
6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples,
8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Jacob was chosen while Esau was rejected.

Romans 9:13 (ESV) As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Psalms 135:4 (ESV) For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel as his own possession.

Isaiah 41:8-10 (ESV)
8 But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend;
9 you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”;
10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

David was chosen by God.  Not just the people of Israel, but God says one chosen out of the people and then specifically names David, not just the Seed of David.

Psalms 89:3-4 (ESV)
3 You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant:
4 ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.’ ” Selah

Psalms 89:19-21 (ESV)
19 Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one, and said: “I have granted help to one who is mighty; I have exalted one chosen from the people.
20 I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him,
21 so that my hand shall be established with him; my arm also shall strengthen him.

Psalms 78:70-71 (ESV)
70 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds;
71 from following the nursing ewes he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people, Israel his inheritance.

Solomon was chosen by God.

1 Chronicles 28:6 (ESV) He said to me, ‘It is Solomon your son who shall build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.

Zerubbabel was chosen.

Haggai 2:23 (ESV) On that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.”

Rufus was chosen.

Romans 16:13 (ESV) Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well.

Paul was chosen.

Acts 22:14 (ESV) And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth;

Acts 22:14 (KJV) And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.

Galatians 1:15-16 (ESV)
15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace,
16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;


So why is it such a stretch for some to believe that God calls, elects, or chooses people?  Doesn’t seem to be able to be any plainer than this:

John 15:16-19 (ESV)
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Whom does this refer to but to you?




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Is the Doctrine of Election Biblical – John MacArthur

Among the most hotly contested and persistent debates in the history of the confessing church, the doctrine of election is perhaps the greatest of all. The question goes like this: Does God choose sinners to be saved and then provide for their salvation? Or, Does God provide the way of salvation that sinners must choose for themselves?

Where’s the evidence?

This question of choice is called “election” because of the Greek word for those who are chosen–the Bible calls them eklektos. There are many such uses in the Bible (cf. Col. 3:12; 1 Tim. 5:21; Tit. 1:1; 2 John 1), but one of my favorites is in Romans 8:33: “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” The answer is, “no one,” but why? Is it because I chose God, or is it because God chose me?

One passage that is critical to the discussion is in the opening chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Immediately after his customary greeting, Paul launches in Ephesians 1:3-14 with a great song of praise. It’s only one sentence–but, with 200 words in the Greek, it may be the longest single sentence in religious literature.

Paul touches on all the great biblical themes in that hyper-complex sentence–sanctification, adoption, redemption, and glorification–and all of them rest on one foundational doctrine, the doctrine of election. The most superlative spiritual blessings stand on Ephesians 1:4–“He chose us [elected us] in Him before the foundation of the world.”

So the doctrine of election is biblical, but what does that passage really teach? I want to help you get a better grasp of that by pointing out what Paul teaches about election. If you are a believer, you can equip yourself for your next conversation on this topic. But more important, as one of His elect you can rejoice in the astonishing kindness God showed you before the world began.

What does it mean?

Paul’s song is essentially his reflection on the amazing truth that God “blessed us with every spiritual blessing … in Christ” (v. 3). And how did He bless us? “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).

God didn’t draw straws; He didn’t look down the corridor of time to see who would choose Him before He decided. Rather, by His sovereign will He chose who would be in the Body of Christ. The construction of the Greek verb for “chose” indicates God chose us for Himself. That means God acted totally independent of any outside influence. He made His choice totally apart from human will and purely on the basis of His sovereignty.

Jesus said to His disciples, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). And in the same Gospel, John wrote, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even 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” (1:12-13, italics mine). And Paul said, “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13).

Those statements defining God’s sovereign choice of believers are not in the Bible to cause controversy, as if God’s election means sinners don’t make decisions. Election does not exclude human responsibility or the necessity of each person to respond to the gospel by faith. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).

Admittedly the two concepts don’t seem to go together. However, both are true separately, and we must accept them both by faith. You may not understand it, but rest assured–it’s fully reconciled in the mind of God.

You must understand that your faith and salvation rest entirely on God’s election (cf. Acts 13:48). And yet the day you came to Jesus Christ, you did so because of an internal desire–you did nothing against your will. But even that desire is God-given–He supplies the necessary faith so we can believe (Eph. 2:8).

Think about it–if your salvation depends on you, then praise to God is ridiculous. But, in truth, your praise to God is completely appropriate, because in forming the Body before the world began, He chose you by His sovereign decree apart from any of your works. The doctrine of election demonstrates God being God, exercising divine prerogatives. For that we must praise Him.

“But that’s not fair!”

Some are shocked to find that God didn’t choose everyone to salvation. Jesus said, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:39, italics mine). God the Father chose certain individuals to form a Body as a gift to Jesus Christ. Every believer is part of that love gift to Christ–a gift of the Father’s love to His Son.

To those who say that is unjust, Paul answers: “What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion'” (Rom. 9:14-15).

So why does God still find fault in unrepentant sinners when He didn’t choose them? Doesn’t this deny human responsibility? Is it fair for God to still hold them accountable?

Paul answers all such questions with a rebuke–“who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it?” (v. 20). Does the clay jump up and ask the potter why it looks the way it does? Not at all.

Some believe that is terribly cold and calculating. But that is only one side of God’s sovereign election. Paul continues in the next chapter by saying, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved … for ‘whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved'” (10:9, 13).

How these two sides of God’s truth–His sovereignty in choosing us (Rom. 9) and our responsibility to confess and believe (Rom. 10)–reconcile is impossible for us to understand fully. But Scripture declares both perspectives of salvation to be true (John 1:12-13). It’s our duty to acknowledge both and joyfully accept them by faith.

Is The Doctrine of Election Biblical?
John MacArthur
Grace To You


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Unbelief a Choice; Faith a Gift

Here’s something to ponder.

Unbelief a Choice; Faith a Gift – Don Fortner

Unbelief is a choice men make, a decision of the rebel will of unregenerate souls. Again and again we read this accusation against the wicked in the Book of God: — “Ye will not believe.” In fact, this is set before us as the very core of wickedness in fallen man. — “They believe not on me” (John 16:9). The wicked perish because they choose not to trust the Son of God. Men and women shall justly bear the judgment of God forever in hell because they will not to believe.

But faith in Christ is never spoken of in Scripture as a decision people make. Faith is never represented as something men will to do. Faith in Christ is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). It is the operation of God the Holy Spirit in us (Colossians 2:12), born in us by that same omnipotent, resurrection power of God that raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:19). Faith in Christ is the fruit of life bestowed. As the new born infant finds himself breathing, so the heaven born soul finds himself believing.

If you now find yourself believing on the Son of God, it is because He has given you everlasting life. If you will not to believe, it is because the wrath of God abides on you (John 3:36).

Any thoughts?



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Is It God Plus Man or God Alone?

John Murray

“The denial of unconditional election strikes at the heart of the doctrine of the grace of God. The grace of God is absolutely sovereign and every failure to recognize and appreciate the absolute sovereignty of God in His saving grace is an expression of the pride of the human heart. It rests upon the demand that God can deal differently with men in the matter of salvation only because they have made themselves to differ. In its ultimate elements it means that the determining factor in salvation is what man himself does, and that is just tantamount to saying that it is not God who determines the salvation of men, but men determine their own salvation; it is not God who saves but man saves himself. This is precisely the issue.”

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John Macarthur –

“…modern easy believism has made faith itself a wholly human work. Why do I say that? Because it is fragile and temporary. It may or may not endure and that is not true of that which God gives. You see that? So that is a salvation by works which a man may do and then not do at his own whim. But if you believe that salvation is by God’s grace and that God grants that faith, then the faith that God grants is not temporary, it is enduring and it is not subject to a whim of a man. There is no more reason to believe that a man living the Christian life could cancel out his God-given faith than that a man could have generated it in the beginning to be saved. If it is from God, it is divine. If it is from God, it is enduring. And easy believism does not save the gospel from works, it becomes a work salvation by which a man gives and takes his faith at his own will. That’s not biblical faith. To say one may have it at the moment of salvation as a gift of God but chuck it anytime that he wants does not make sense. That denies God’s work, it denies that God is the one who gives and sustains the grace that makes faith endure.”

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Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. ESV

John Hendryx –

“As evidenced by this passage, and many others, that it is by the Holy Spirit within us that we EVEN have the faith, or the strength to do, believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock; It reveals that the assistance of grace does not even depend on the humility or obedience of man since it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, … “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), and, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). So Christ purchases, not only the opportunity for His people to be saved but makes certain they are saved by doing all for them that they are unable to do for themselves, including granting them understanding and the faith to take hold of the promises.”

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Charles Spurgeon –

“Remember this; or you may fall into error by fixing your minds so much upon the faith which is the channel of salvation as to forget the grace which is the fountain and source even of faith itself. Faith is the work of God’s grace in us. No man can say that Jesus is the Christ but by the Holy Ghost. “No man cometh unto me,” saith Jesus, “except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” ( John 6:44) So that faith, which is coming to Christ, is the result of divine drawing. Grace is the first and last moving cause of salvation; and faith, essential as it is, is only an important part of the machinery which grace employs. We are saved “through faith,” but salvation is “by grace.” Sound forth those words as with the archangel’s trumpet: “By grace are ye saved.” What glad tidings for the undeserving!”


When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this. I can recall the very day and hour when first I received those truths in my own soul – when they were as John Bunyan says, burnt into my heart as with a hot iron; and I can recollect how I felt that I had grown all of a sudden from a babe into a man – that I had made progress in scriptural knowledge, through having found, once for all, the clue to the truth of God … I saw that God was at the bottom of it all, and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, I ascribe my change wholly to God. (Autobiography: 1, The Early Years, Banner of Truth, p. 164-165)


I will go as far as Martin Luther, where he says, “If any man ascribes anything of salvation, even the very least thing, to the free will of man, he knows nothing of grace, and he has not learned Jesus Christ rightly.” Sermons, Vol. 1, p.395

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Salvation is totally up to God:

Salvation is accomplished by the almighty power of the Triune God. The Father chose a people, the Son died for them, the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s death effective by bringing the elect to faith and repentance, thereby causing them to willingly obey the gospel. The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration) is the work of God and is by grace alone. Thus God, not man, determines who will be the recipients of the gift of salvation.

Verses Salvation is God plus man:

Salvation is accomplished through the combined efforts of God (who takes the initiative) and man (who must respond) – man’s response being the determining factor. God has provided salvation for everyone, but His provision becomes effective only for those who, of their own free will, “choose” to cooperate with Him and accept His offer of grace. At the crucial point, man’s will plays a decisive role; thus man, not God, determines who will be recipients of the gift of salvation.

From A Comparison of Calvinism & Arminianism by David Steele and Curtis Thomas

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John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. ESV

John 6:39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. KJV

Romans 11:7-8
7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,
8 as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.”
ESV

Ephesians 2:1-9
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—
3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
4 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—
6 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.
8 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
.
ESV

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. ESV



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If It Weren’t For Grace …

We can argue and twist words all we want but Scripture is clear that if not for God’s Grace and Mercy you would not have…

salvation.

believed.

had ears to hear the gospel, truly hear and understand with faith granted by God.

believed the words that you heard from Scripture.

even been exposed to the Scripture.

lived in a country that has free access to preaching and God’s Word.

lived in a free society that would allow you to hear God’s Word without being disowned or killed by family members.

We can go on.

If it weren’t for God’s Grace and Mercy…

You wouldn’t be breathing right now having this discussion.

You wouldn’t have the intelligence to read and write.

You wouldn’t have been born with ears that can hear, eyes that can see, mouth that can speak, hands that can type, or a brain that can think.

You wouldn’t have been afforded the opportunity to study and educate yourself.

You wouldn’t have survived growing up to this point.

You wouldn’t have had parents that choose to raise you as opposed to sell you for a slave.

You wouldn’t have been killed by many childhood diseases.

You wouldn’t have starved to death like many children.

You wouldn’t have had parents that allowed you to be born instead of aborting you.

You can think that you participated and that it was God plus something you did to deserve Salvation but if it weren’t totally for God’s Grace and Mercy you would not have done anything.

Reminds me of the song “Were It Not For Grace”

I measured out my days
Life carried me alone
In my soul I yearn to follow God
But knew I’d never be so strong
I looked hard at this world
To learn how heaven could be gained
Just to end where I began
Where human effort is all in vain

Were it not for grace
I can tell you where I’d be
Wandering down some pointless road
To no where
With my salvation up to me
I know how that would go
The battles I would face
Forever running
But losing the race
Were it not for grace

Give credit where credit is due.

To God and God alone!

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Election and Predestination Precede Salvation by Spurgeon

September 20, 1857

by C. H. SPURGEON

… Before Salvation came into this world, Election marched in the very forefront, and it had for its work the billeting of Salvation. Election went through the world and marked the houses to which Salvation should come and the hearts in which the treasure should be deposited. Election looked through all the race man, from Adam down to the last, and marked with sacred stamp those for whom Salvation was designed. “He must needs go through Samaria,” said Election; and Salvation must go there.

Then came Predestination. Predestination did not merely mark the house, but it mapped the road in which Salvation should travel to that house, Predestination ordained every step of the great army of Salvation, it ordained the time when the sinner should be brought to Christ, the manner how he should be saved, the means that should be employed; it marked the exact hour and moment, when God the Spirit should quicken the dead in sin, and when peace and pardon should be spoken through the blood of Jesus. Predestination marked the way so completely, that Salvation doth never overstep the bounds, and it is never at a loss for the road.

In the everlasting decree of the Sovereign God, the footsteps of Mercy were every one of them ordained. As nothing in this world revolves by chance—as even the foreknown station of a rush by the river is as fixed as the station of a king—it was not meet that Salvation should be left to chance; and therefore God has mapped the place where it should pitch its tent, the manner of its footsteps to that tent, and the time when it should arrive there. …


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Hearing But Not Hearing

No matter how many times someone hears the preaching of God’s Word it will do them no good and have no effect unless the Lord grants them the Faith to believe and understand the Word.  Until God shows Mercy and Grace by granting faith to believe, that person will never understand.  They can hear all day but until granted “Faith unto Belief” then they will never “hear” with understanding.


Romans 10:13-18

13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”

17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” ESV


No matter how much Scripture the Israelites heard they did not “hear with understanding.”  They lacked the faith to believe.


Galatians 3:2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? ESV


God grants the “ears to hear” and the Faith to believe.


Deuteronomy 29:4 But to this day  the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear. ESV


Matthew 11:15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear. ESV


Matthew 13:13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear,  nor do they understand.  ESV


Luke 8:9-10

9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant,

10 he said,  “To you it has been given to know  the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so  that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ ESV


Without God giving them the “ears to hear” and the faith to believe no one will believe because it is foolishness and folly to man otherwise.


1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.  ESV


Update: Quote

Always recollect, dear friends, that the best spiritual food in the world is useless to those who are spiritually dead; and one very essential part of the gospel is that truth which our Savior so plainly taught, “Ye must be born again.” All attempts at feeding the soul are of no use until the new birth has been experienced; even that precious, priceless bread of life cannot be assimilated unless the soul has been quickened by the Spirit of God.

~~~~~~~~

Spurgeon from No Need to Feed the Dead

HT: Lora K.

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God Does NOT Run an Entitlement Program

Just what are you entitled to from God?

Everyone deserves to die for all have sinned.

Romans 3:23 … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ESV

Who does not fit in this description of sinners?

Romans 1:29-32
29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,
30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them
. ESV

So if you deserve and are entitled to death, how might you have eternal life?

Only by the Grace of God not by any of your actions or works!

Romans 3:22-24
22 … For there is no distinction:
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, ESV

Romans 11:5-6
5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
ESV

HT: Reformed Voices


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