Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A WARNING AND AN OPEN INVITATION

By: John MacArthur
Beware of God

Admonition
God’s universal love is revealed not only in common grace and His great compassion, but also in His admonition to repent. God is constantly warning the reprobate of their impending fate, and pleading with them to turn away from sin. Nothing demonstrates God’s love more than the various warnings throughout the pages of Scripture, urging sinners to flee from the wrath to come.
Anyone who knows anything about Scripture knows it is filled with warnings about the judgment to come, warnings about hell, and warnings about the severity of divine punishment. If God really did not love the reprobate, nothing would compel Him to warn them. He would be perfectly just to punish them for their sin and unbelief with no admonition whatsoever. But He does love and He does care and He does warn.
God evidently loves sinners enough to warn them. Sometimes the warnings of Scripture bear the marks of divine wrath. They sound severe. They reflect God’s hatred of sin. They warn of the irreversible condemnation that will befall sinners. They are unsettling, unpleasant, even terrifying.
But they are admonitions from a loving God who as we have seen weeps over the destruction of the wicked. They are necessary expressions from the heart of a compassionate Creator who takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. They are further proof that God is love.
The Gospel Offer
Finally, we see proofthat God’s love extends to all in the gospel offer. We saw earlier that the gospel invitation is an offer of divine mercy. Now consider the unlimited breadth of the offer. No one is excluded from the gospel invitation. Salvation in Christ is freely and indiscriminately offered to all.
Jesus told a parable in Matthew 22:2–14 about a king who was having a marriage celebration for his son. He sent his servants to invite the wedding guests. Scripture says simply, “they were unwilling to come” (v. 3). The king sent his servants again, saying, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast” (v. 4). But even after that second invitation, the invited guests remained unwilling to come. In fact, Scripture says, “They paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them” (vv. 5–6). This was outrageous, inexcusable behavior! And the king judged them severely for it.
An Open InvitationThen Scripture says he told his servants, “The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast” (v. 9). He opened the invitation to all comers. Jesus closes with this: “Many are called, but few are chosen” (v. 14).
The parable represents God’s dealing with the nation of Israel. They were the invited guests. But they rejected the Messiah. They spurned Him and mistreated Him and crucified Him. They wouldn’t come—as Jesus said to them:

You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life. (Jn. 5:39–40)
The gospel invites many to come who are unwilling to come. Many are called who are not chosen. The invitation to come is given indiscriminately to all. Whosoever will may come—the invitation is not issued to the elect alone.
God’s love for mankind does not stop with a warning of the judgment to come. It also invites sinners to partake of divine mercy. It offers forgiveness and mercy. Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28–29). And Jesus said, “The one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (Jn. 6:37).
It should be evident from these verses that the gospel is a free offer of Christ and His salvation to all who hear. Those who deny the free offer therefore alter the nature of the gospel itself. And those who deny that God’s love extends to all humanity obscure some of the most blessed truth in all Scripture about God and His lovingkindness.
God’s love extends to the whole world. It covers all humanity. We see it in common grace. We see it in His compassion. We see it in His admonitions to the lost. And we see it in the free offer of the gospel to all.
God is love, and His mercy is over all His works.


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QUESTION: "IS PLEADING THE BLOOD OF JESUS BIBLICAL?"


Answer:
“Pleading the blood of Jesus” in prayer is a teaching that can be traced to some of the early leaders of the Word of Faith movement. When people speak of “pleading the blood of Jesus in prayer” they are referring to the practice of “claiming” the power of Christ over any and every problem by using the phrase “I plead the blood of Jesus over _______.”

“Pleading the blood of Jesus” has no basis whatsoever in Scripture. No one in the Bible ever “pleads the blood” of Christ. Those who “plead the blood” do so as if there was something magical in those words or as if by using them their prayer is somehow more powerful. This teaching is born from the misguided and heretical view of prayer that prayer is really nothing more than a way of manipulating God to get what we want rather than praying for His will to be done. The whole Word of Faith movement is founded on the false teaching that faith is a force and if we pray with enough faith, then God guarantees us health, wealth, and happiness and will deliver us from every problem and every situation. In this view, God is simply a way to get what we want instead of being the holy, sovereign, perfect and righteous Creator that the Bible reveals Him to be.

Those who teach this Word-Faith falsehood have an exalted view of man and our “rights” to plead what we want and get God to respond the way we want. This is in opposition to true biblical faith exemplified by Paul’s life and his approach to suffering and trials. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). But Word of Faith teaches that if we suffer or are sick or struggle with sin, it is because we do not have enough faith or that we are not pleading the blood of Jesus to claim what is rightfully ours. But we do not see Paul pleading the blood of Christ or claiming what is “rightfully his” when he was faced with trials and persecution. Instead we see his unwavering faith in Christ no matter what the situation: “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 2:12).

Paul had “learned in whatever state I am in to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13). Paul’s faith was in Christ alone, and he could say with conviction “the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever, Amen!” (2 Timothy 4:18).

“Pleading the blood” as it is commonly practiced has more in common with mysticism—reciting a magical formula and hoping it works—than it does with biblical prayer. Saying certain words does not make our prayers magically more powerful. Furthermore, “pleading the blood” of Christ is not needed to defeat Satan. He has already been defeated, and if we are truly born-again, Satan has no power over us other than what God allows for His purpose and glory. Colossians 1:13 makes this perfectly clear: “For He has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son in whom we have redemption through His blood, the remission of sins.”

Rather than “pleading the blood” of Christ for protection or power, Christians should obey the command in James 4:7 “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Rather than practicing an unbiblical model of prayer, we are to follow the simple precepts of Scripture—leading a pure life before God, taking captive all our thoughts to avoid giving sin a place, confessing our sins when we fail those first two precepts and putting on the full armor of God as outlined in Ephesians 6:13-17.

The Bible gives us numerous instructions in victorious living in Christ, and pleading “the blood of Jesus” is not one of them. We have been cleansed by the blood of Christ and He is our High Priest and mediator who “always lives to make intercession” for us (Hebrews 7:25). As His sheep we are already under His protection, we simply need to live day by day trusting in Him for what He has already promised and provided.

Recommended Resources: Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century by Hank Hanegraaff and Logos Bible Software.


While he is not the author of every article on GotQuestions.org, for citation purposes, you may reference our CEO, S. Michael Houdmann.



Saturday, November 9, 2013

THE SCANDAL AND SWEETNESS OF JOHN 3:16

from
John 3:16 has become so familiar that we no longer find its words astonishing. But this remarkable verse reveals amazing truth that should delight us every time we hear it.
A Remarkable Claim
Jesus boldly asserts that God loves the world. God, the maker of heaven and earth, is self-sufficient and needs nothing outside of Himself. He is the Holy One whose pure eyes cannot look upon sin (Hab. 1:13). His desires are always upright, His love completely pure, and His affection never misplaced. How can such a God love the broken, sin-marred world?
In the broadest sense, the world represents the universe that God created. God loves the creation that He spoke into being. His love for the sin-corrupted world is bound up in His plan to totally restore heaven and earth (Acts 3:21).
More specifically, the world represents the human inhabitants of the earth, a race of rebels, traitors, and idolaters–objects far from deserving God’s love. Because man sinned, God would have done no injustice by letting everyone perish (Rom. 3:19). Instead, God chose to love.
The Reach of God’s Love
Christ uses the word world to show the mystery and fullness of God’s love, which is not limited to any race, region, or time. Jesus is not suggesting a universal atonement. He died for those whom God chose to believe in Him (John 6:37) and in whom He works saving faith as a gift of grace (Eph. 2:8). Still, God loves sinners and has provided a way of salvation for a vast host of fallen people (Gen. 15:5).
The Reality of God’s Love
God’s love for the world seems incongruous and far-fetched–even impossible. To believe in this love, we need irrefutable evidence. Jesus’ coming to the world is the irrefutable evidence of the Father’s love for it. People can talk about their love for others, but the proof of love is action, not words (1 John 3:18). “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
The Riches of God’s Love
God’s love is not sentimental but sacrificial. It is agape, a committed and costly affection proved through action. According to John, only one event in the history of the world is capable of demonstrating true love. He writes, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
God’s love for His people can only be understood in relation to His love for His Son. The only begotten Son is the eternal object of the Father’s affection. Twice during Christ’s public ministry, the Father shattered heaven’s silence to affirm His absolute love for His Son (Matt. 3:17; 17:5). Our love for our children is diminished by both our sin and theirs. But the love between God the Father and God the Son is perfect, personal, intimate, deep, eternal, and committed.
Christ came to earth to show us the riches of God’s love. This is the good news of Christ’s advent. In Jesus Christ, God loves His believing children with this same incomprehensible, infinite, and unchangeable love. Having sacrificed His Son for our salvation is it possible that He will now withhold from us any good thing (Rom. 8:32)? No, for Christ’s incarnation confirms that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).
Adapted from Joel Beeke and William Boekestein’s Why Christ Came: 31 Meditations on Christ’s Incarnation, available today only for $5 as part of this week’s $5 Friday sale. While supplies last. Sale ends 11:59 PM EST.

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