I ask this more in the fashion of a rhetorical question. I ask this in such a way, dear reader, for you to ponder on what I am really asking. I hear it all the time that prayer changes things. If it does, then how can God be immutable? For the record, I am not anti-prayer in the least, but, people tend to not fully grasp what prayer is all about. Prayer isn’t about us causing God to change things…outcomes…but rather, that our will be bent to His will. It is about us submitting to Him, and His will. For instance, look at the land of Ninevah, and God sending Jonah to tell them their impending doom. God is going to pour His wrath upon these heathens. God tells Jonah this in Jonah 1:
” And there is a word of Jehovah unto Jonah son of Amittai, saying: `Rise, go unto Nineveh, the great city, and proclaim against it that their wickedness hath come up before Me.” (vss 1,2) God has told Jonah to tell them He going to destroy them. Then in chapter 3, God told Jonah, after the whale vomitted him out of his belly, “Rise, go unto Nineveh, the great city, and proclaim unto it the proclamation that I am speaking unto thee.”(3:2) This made the second time that God told Jonah that destruction was coming to the land of Ninevah. Jonah told them “`Yet forty days — and Nineveh is overturned.” (Jonah 3:4) Now, they could have went around in the “woe is me” mentality that many have today, but they fasted, took off their clothes and put on sackcloth, even the king did, and all sat in ashes.
In Jonah 3:10 it states this; “And God seeth their works, that they have turned back from their evil way, and God repenteth of the evil that He spake of doing to them, and he hath not done [it].” So, did God change His mind and not destroy them, or was this part of His redemptive plan? I affirm the latter. God is immutable, and changes not. He is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore(Hebrews 13:8).
In actuality, it was Jonah who had to bend his will to God’s. When the Ninevahites heard of the wrath of God to come, they willfully repented, even fasted, took off their own clothes and put on sackcloth, and sat in the ashes, not wanting to be destroyed. When God saw their deeds, He repented of the wicked words He said of what He was going to do to them(3:10). Now, if He knew the end from the beginning(Isa. 46:10), if His works were known from the foundation of the world(Acts 15:18), then He had to know what they were going to do even before He commanded Jonah to go and preach to them. Jonah got miffed that God didn’t destroy them. He even would have preferred to die than live(4:8). God was using Jonah in a way that the Ninevahites would bend their will to His. God was using Jonah in a way that through prayer, they would submit to Him. This is what prayer is truly about.
It’s like those who have a love one near death. They have prayed to God many times to heal them. Yet, in all of this, they have gotten progressively worse, and not better. When it gets to the point where it looks like death is there, they submit their will to Him and ask Him to not let them suffer any more. All the prayers in the world will not change Him, or His mind. If prayer did, in fact, change His mind, then none would die.
Let me close by saying this again. I am not anti-prayer. God ordained prayer as a way for us to communicate with Him. It is through prayer we beseech Him and ask Him to help us, and others, who need His help. Yet, at the end of it all, we always say, let it be in accordance to your will. Maybe not in those exact words, but pretty close. In other words, we always end our prayers with the words “if it be your will”. So, if prayer does change God’s mind, then can He truly be immutable? Ponder on this, dear reader…..
“For thus said the Lord unto me: `Go, station the watchman, That which he seeth let him declare.'”(Isa. 21:6 YLT)
If you can get a picture of a city that was in OT times, cities usually had walls that surrounded them, with watchmen on the tops of the walls. They would watch out for invaders, and when they saw them coming for an attack of the city, they would sound the alarm. They usually blowed a horn, and when the citizens of that city heard it blow, they knew an attack was coming. They would then take their positions and get ready for war.
This is a picture of us, the christians. I know that the usual application is preachers, but even laypeople have a way of “sounding the alarm” as they witness to people. But the main idea I want to get across is that the “sound” the horn made was a particular sound. A sound that the inhabitants of that city knew. If another sound was made, they would not know to “man their positions”, and be prepared for the assault from their enemy, and no doubt suffer defeat. Apostle Paul addressed this when he wrote in 1 Cor. 14:7,8…”yet the things without life giving sound — whether pipe or harp — if a difference in the sounds they may not give, how shall be known that which is piped or that which is harped? for if also an uncertain sound a trumpet may give, who shall prepare himself for battle“? Look closely at that which I bolded and italiacized…“who shall prepare himself for battle?” As much as we were to preach, witness, emplore, beg, lost peoples to come to Christ, if God isn’t drawing them, eventhough we’re “sounding the alarm”, we’re making a peculiar sound, a sound they have no understanding of, sounding like barbarians, without any understanding. If the invaders are coming, and the watchmen start playing a flute, the citizens won’t prepare themselves for battle.
I am going to take another angle to this. In Joshua chapter 6, you can see them, the Israelites, as they are being led by Joshua, after Moses had died and God buried him. God told Joshua to circle Jericho once a day for six days, and then on the seventh day, make seven trips around it. As they were circling it, God gave Joshua instruction on what to do….“and Jehovah saith unto Joshua, `See, I have given into thy hand Jericho and its king — mighty ones of valour, and ye have compassed the city — all the men of battle — going round the city once; thus thou dost six days; and seven priests do bear seven trumpets of the jubilee before the ark, and on the seventh day ye compass the city seven times, and the priests blow with the trumpets.” As you can see, there were seven priests blowing seven trumpets and the Ark of the Covenant coming behind them. That’s the way the gospel works. As we preach God’s word, we are blowing the trumpet, blowing the horn sounding the alarm. Now, when God is in the mix, working within one of His sheep not yet in the fold, He causes them to hear the trumpet sounding the alarm, telling them that the enemy is fastly approaching. Jesus Christ is coming right behind the effectual preaching of one of God’s called ministers, much like the Ark was coming right behind the priests blowing their trumpets. Undoubtedly, the watchmen that were looking down from the tops of the walls wondered what was going on. They had no idea what was about to take place. The “sound” the seven trumpets made were peculiar to them. They had no clue that in less than one week, the walls of their city would fall by the hands of God.
I will close this by going back into 1 Cor. 14 where Apostle Paul was talking about speaking in tongues. Now, I am not a believer in speaking in tongues as the pentecostals/charismatics do, but I want to finish this blog post out this way. Whenever we are preaching and/or witnessing to lost people, if God hasn’t acted upon them with His regenerative powers, we are going to sound like a foreigner to them. As it states in 1 Cor. 2:14, “and the natural man doth not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for to him they are foolishness, and he is not able to know [them], because spiritually they are discerned
,and then in 1 Cor. 1:18 Apostle Paul stated, “for the word of the cross to those indeed perishing is foolishness, and to us — those being saved — it is the power of God.” So unrenerate people are unable to truly understand the “sound” the trumpets make, what the preachers are preaching, what the laypeople are saying to them. They need an Interpreter to translate the message for them. This is where the Spirit of God comes in. It takes something much deeper than words to bring life to the dead. It takes an inner working, an effectual calling, calling a sinner out of darkness into His marvellous Light. To bring one from death in the tomb, to life in Christ. To set free that which has been bound. Only God can do this. I will leave you with these verses of scripture…please pay close attention to what is in italics…
“Righteousness and judgment [Are] the fixed place of Thy throne, Kindness and truth go before Thy face. O the happiness of the people knowing the shout, O Jehovah, in the light of Thy face they walk habitually. In Thy name they rejoice all the day, And in Thy righteousness they are exalted.”
I am quite shocked that I have to word the blog post title question the way I did. I just don’t know how you can truly have a grammatically correct sentence the way I worded it, but alas…..
Now, is repentance from sin necessary for salvation? Let’s see what God’s word has to say about it. First off, I want to go to Acts 17:30 where the beloved physician Luke wrote, “the times, indeed, therefore, of the ignorance God having overlooked, doth now command all men everywhere to reform.” As you can read for yourselves, God has commanded all men everywhere to repent. Yet, so many refuse to do so, choosing to live in the mire of sin like a hog lives in its. Repentance is more than a change of mind, it’s a change of the heart, a Godly sorrow that has been set up in their lives, that leads them to repentance(2 Cor. 7:10). Now, let’s look at some other verses that addresses that repentance is necessary for true God-given salvation.
John the Baptist told the Jews this, “And in those days cometh John the Baptist, proclaiming in the wilderness of Judea,and saying, `Reform, for come nigh hath the reign of the heavens,’ for this is he who was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, saying, `A voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, straight make ye His paths.’ And this John had his clothing of camel’s hair, and a girdle of skin round his loins, and his nourishment was locusts and honey of the field.Then were going forth unto him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about the Jordan, and they were baptized in the Jordan by him, confessing their sins. And having seen many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming about his baptism, he said to them, `Brood of vipers! who did shew you to flee from the coming wrath? bear, therefore, fruits worthy of the reformation, and do not think to say in yourselves, A father we have — Abraham, for I say to you, that God is able out of these stones to raise children to Abraham, and now also, the axe unto the root of the trees is laid, every tree therefore not bearing good fruit is hewn down, and to fire is cast.” (Matthew 3:1-10 YLT)
People want to say that repentance from sins was only spoken of by Jesus to the Jews. That’s true, but why was it this way? Here’s why: `I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,‘ this was what Jesus said in Matthew 15:24. He first went to His chosen people, and He also told His desciples to “the way of the nations go not away, and into a city of the Samaritans go not in, and be going rather unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.`And, going on, proclaim saying that, the reign of the heavens hath come nigh; infirm ones be healing, lepers be cleansing, dead be raising, demons be casting out — freely ye did receive, freely give.” (Matthew 10:5-8 YLT) His targeted audience, His earthly ministry was focused upon the Jews. That was who He spoke to most of the time. There was the Syrophoenician woman whose daughter He healed, and the woman at the well in Samaria, but those are only two instances that I can think of off the top of my head, where He had dealings with Gentiles. So to say that the Christ commanded the Jews to repent of their sins, and we don’t have to, is horrible exegesis, in my opinion.
Then in Romans 2, Apostle Paul touched upon repentance being necessary, and also the source from which it came; “or the riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, dost thou despise? — not knowing that the goodness of God doth lead thee to reformation! (Romans 2:4 YLT) It is the goodness of God that leads a sinner to reformation/repentance. It is God that sets up a Godly sorrow that leads a sinner to repentance. (2 Cor. 7:10). Then John the Baptist told the Jews this as well, “make, therefore, fruits worthy of the reformation, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have a father — Abraham; for I say to you, that God is able out of these stones to raise children to Abraham; (Luke 3:8 YLT) God has to break up that stony heart first. In Matthew 13, Jesus told the parable of the seed sower, and the condition of the four grounds represented there. The only one that the seed took root and brought forth fruits was that which was sown in the good ground. Why did it(seed) not bring forth fruit in the other three grounds? In the wayside ground, Satan snatched it away before it could get planted. In the stony ground, it sprung up, but withered away before any fruits were produced. The thorny ground choked the seed out as the plant sprouted out, so did the thorns, and choked it out. So why did the seed not prosper? It was a good seed, but in three grounds it failed to produce fruit. Again, why? It all stems from the heart. The heart is desperately wicked and who can know it? (Jer. 17:9) It is from the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.(Matt. 12:45 & Luke 6:45) The heart of a sinner is as hard as stone and they have to be given a new heart. (Eze. 11:19 & Eze. 36:26) That is why it’s imperitive that regeneration has to be prior to conversion. God gives a sinner a new heart to feel with, new eyes to see with, new ears to hear “what says the Lord”. In regeneration is justification, the giving of saving faith. Faith and repentance coincide and you can not have one with out the other. As the Hebrews writer said, “looking to the author and perfecter of faith — Jesus, who, over-against the joy set before him — did endure a cross, shame having despised, on the right hand also of the throne of God did sit down;” (Hebrews 12:2) Then in Acts 16:14 it states that God had opened Lydia’s heart. So, as I have shown you, dear reader, the heart has to be changed. It can only be changed by God Almighty Himself.
All of this has to happen to have a true conversion of the soul. There has to be repentance from sin in order to be saved…converted. I will close with this passage Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica:
“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thess….all 10 vss YLT)
Look closely at what I put in italics. He said “and how ye turned to God from idols”. To turn from idols and turn to God is repenting of your sins, whilst turning to God. You can not turn to God without turning away from your sins. You have to deny yourself, and seek after Him with all your heart. Then in Luke 13, Jesus stated this TWICE; “No — I say to you, but, if ye may not reform, all ye even so shall perish.” (Luke 13:3,5 YLT)
If there be a sinner who reads this, please let me tell you that repenting of your sins is an absolute necessity in order to be saved/converted. God saves you from your sins, and not in them. “No — I say to you, but, if ye may not reform, all ye even shall perish.”
I hear people talking about the baptism spoken of in Romans 6 as the believer being baptized…immersed, in the water. Yet, I can find no mentioning of it there. I will not attempt to go verse-by-verse, as that would be too time consuming, making by blog post too lengthy, and having fewer readers actually reading it. So, I will attempt to hit the high points, addressing what baptism is actually being referred to. All of the verses I will use are in the YLT.
“What, then, shall we say? shall we continue in the sin that the grace may abound?let it not be! we who died to the sin — how shall we still live in it?are ye ignorant that we, as many as were baptized to Christ Jesus, to his death were baptized?’“(vss 1:3)
In verse 3, pay careful attention to as many as were baptized to Christ. Now, what is being baptized to Christ? Is the fleshly man? Is it the spirit, the soul of man that is baptized to Christ? I contend that the latter is true. When John the Baptist came preaching repentance, he baptized them with a water baptism unto repentance. In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist told them this; “I indeed do baptize you with water to reformation, but he who after me is coming is mightier than I, of whom I am not worthy to bear the sandals, he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” John could only baptize someone with water, and that is the only thing we can baptize with. It takes a working of the Spirit, being placed in Christ, and this can only take place via the Spirit of God. So how is it that water baptizes us to Christ? It can’t.
“this knowing, that our old man was crucified with [him], that the body of the sin may be made useless, for our no longer serving the sin;for he who hath died hath been set free from the sin.” (vss 6,7)
Our old man has been crucified with Christ. When Christ died, we died. When He raised, we raised. What He did, we do, because He did it for us. Then look deeper at verse 7. What died here that was set free from sin? Was it the flesh? No. Was in the soul? Yes. The flesh still has the stain of sin all over it, “it is still at enmity with God”(Romans 8:7). “It can not understand the things of the Spirit”(1 Cor. 2:14). The soul has been set free by the shed blood of Christ. It has been cleansed, it has now on it the wedding garment, waiting for the Bridegroom to call it home.
“so also ye, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to the sin, and living to God in Jesus Christ our Lord.”(vs 11)
I think the verse that states “we are dead, and our lives are hid with Christ in God”(Col. 3:3), should suffice. We no longer live of ourselves, but it is rather, that “in Christ we live, move and have our being”(Acts 17:28). We are dead, the old man died, was crucified. Christ now lives within us, and “because He lives, we can live also”(John 14:19). We are Spiritually alive only because He lives within us.
“for sin over you shall not have lordship, for ye are not under law, but under grace.” (vs 14)
Sin no longer lords, or reigns, over us. Christ, the Stronger Man, came in and “cast the strong man out, and spoiled his goods”(Matt. 12:29). And after He ejects him out of that person, He tells that strong man “to never come back in to him again”(Mark 9:25). We now live unto Christ, no longer desiring to fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Sure, there will be times when we sin, yet we will repent and go on. But we no longer desire to sin, yearn for sin, I am referring to the inner man, the soul/spirit of a man that has been brought from death unto life. That new life is in Christ, and as 1 Cor. 5:17 so poignantly states it; “so that if any one [is] in Christ — [he is] a new creature; the old things did pass away, lo, become new have the all things.”
“What then? shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? let it not be!have ye not known that to whom ye present yourselves servants for obedience, servants ye are to him to whom ye obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?and thanks to God, that ye were servants of the sin, and — were obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which ye were delivered up;and having been freed from the sin, ye became servants to the righteousness.” (vss 15-18)
In verse 18, it states, “and having been freed from the sin, ye became servants to the righteousness.” Again, what has been freed from sin? Was it the flesh? Was it the soul/spirit of man? I still contend it is the latter and not the former. In 1 John 3, John writes, “every one who hath been begotten of God, sin he doth not, because his seed in him doth remain, and he is not able to sin, because of God he hath been begotten.” John interestingly stated “because His seed in him doth remain.” We know that the word “seed” is meaning the word of God. We also know that Jesus is the “the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
“And now, having been freed from the sin, and having become servants to God, ye have your fruit — to sanctification, and the end life age-during;for the wages of the sin [is] death, and the gift of God [is] life age-during in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (vss 22,23)
Again, we read those pesky little words, “having been freed from sin”. Once more, what has been freed from sin. We know it is not the flesh, because that is all it wants to do. It is the inner man that has been unshackled from the chains of sin, that kept us in bondage to Satan. He had us burdened down with sin, has us in chains of bondage. Christ came and broke those chains off of us, toke Satan’s yoke of bondage off of us, which only held us back from serving our Creator. When Christ took Satan’s yoke off us, and put His on us. He tells us this in Matthew 11, “Come unto me, all ye labouring and burdened ones, and I will give you rest,take up my yoke upon you, and learn from me, because I am meek and humble in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls,for my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.” vss(28-30)
So there is no way that water is mentioned here as the baptism we received. The baptism here in Romans 6 is that baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire. This has to take place before the water baptism is of any benefit to the person. The water baptism does not free people from sin, does not make any of us a new creation/creature in Christ. Water does none of this.
“If Jehovah doth not build the house, In vain have its builders laboured at it, If Jehovah doth not watch a city, In vain hath a watchman waked.” (Psalms 127:1 YLT)
As you can see, anything that stands the test of time, it has to have God being the One performing and accomplishing it. God has always had a plan in place that He will bring forth as He sees fits, and does not ask mankind if it is alright with them. We can read where Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world(Rev. 13:8). We can also read where God chose a people in Christ from before the foundation of the world(Eph. 1:4). We can also find where His works were finished from the foundation of the world(Heb. 4:3). So in order to have a sturdy house, you first, have to have a solid foundation. You can not build it anywhere, but you have to have solid ground on which to build it. This foundation I am talking about is Jesus Christ Himself. 1 Cor. 3:11 states it like this; “for other foundation no one is able to lay except that which is laid, which is Jesus the Christ;”. So God sent His Son into the world to establish that foundation on which we are to be built upon. If we are upon any other foundation other than Christ, we will not stand the test of time.
Now, before you build a house, you have to have a blueprint made that shows you how to build it. God had this all planned out before we ever came into existence. He knew what He would do through the pre-ordination process. In Acts 15:18 it states it like this; “Known from the ages to God are all His works;”. He knew what He was going to do, how to do it, when to do it, &c. Nothing has ever caught Him off guard or caused Him to have an “aha” moment. God sent His Son, His Son, who was also a “son” of Joseph, who was a carpenter by trade. Jesus came to lay that foundation down on which all that are to be built upon by God would withstand the storms Satan throws at them.
“Therefore, every one who doth hear of me these words, and doth do them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house upon the rock;” (Matthew 7:24 YLT)
This verse…Matthew 7:24…to coincide with Psalms 127:1, shows how God’s sovereignity and man’s responsibilty works together. In Psalms 127:1 it says that “unless Jehovah builds the house, the builders laboured in vain”. It’s when God begins a work within a sinner, He’s stedfast in calling you, who also will do [it](1 Thess. 5:24 YLT). God does not call someone just to let them get away. When He calls them, they will come to Him. He enables them to come to Him, because He has the foundation already in place on which they will stand.
Let’s back up a bit into the book of Exodus for a few moments. Starting in chapter 25, you can read where God commanded Moses to take an offering of the people of gold, silver, brass, purple blue, scarlet, and fine linen. Even Rams’ and goats’ skins, some dyed red. All of this is how God told the people, through Moses, in how to fashion the tabernacle, was not planned when He first spoke to Moses, but was planned from before the foundation of the world, and executed in the time He saw fit. The way He fashioned it, the beauty was veiled by the outer coverings. You could not see the true beauty of the Ark of the Covenant, but only the purple, the Rams’ skins dyed red, the wooden casing covered with gold, that held the Ark of the Covenant, &c. That was the way it was with Christ, too. Isaiah alluded to this in chapter 53 when he wrote; ” He hath no form, nor honour, when we observe him, Nor appearance, when we desire him” (Isa. 53:2b YLT).
Now, before I get too far off on a tangent, let me explain what I am trying to convey here. God told Moses how to fashion the coverings of the sanctuary, how to cover some things with brass, some with silver, and some with gold. He then had things veiled with blue, purple, dyed Rams’ skins, &c. In other words, God had already had the blueprint in mind from before the foundation of the world, and used Moses to bring it to its fruition. Christ was fashioned much like this, with His true beauty being veiled by His physical body. He looked like the next Jew, and unless they could see past His flesh, His veil, none could see His true beauty. Only those who were given to Him by the Father…those who foundation God had built their house upon, could see His inner beauty. We who are saved, we look like the next person, yet our inner man has been given a wedding garment, a “long, white, robe”, that none can see. Our physical bodies veil it from others around us. All of this, the forming of the world and the universe around it, the choosing of Christ as a Redeemer of fallen mankind, the fall and all that it entails, Joseph being sold into slavery, the flood during Noah’s days, Moses bringing the Jews out of Egypt, Christ being crucified, all of this has its foundations from before the foundation, or creation, of the world.
“and the rain did descend, and the streams came, and the winds blew, and they beat on that house, and it fell not, for it had been founded on the rock.”(Matt. 7:25 YLT)
As you can see in the last portion of the above verse, the house stood, not because it was sturdy, not because it was better looking than other houses that may be around it, but stood based solely because “it had been founded on the rock”. Jesus is this Rock that has been seen all through the ages. It was the “Stone hewed out of the mountain without hands , and it filled the whole earth”(Dan. 2:34,35). It was the Stone that Moses smote in the valley of Zin that gave forth His water.(Numbers 20:11) It was the Rock that David said “was higher than I”.(Psa. 61:2) So this Foundation is a sure foundation. Even Abraham looked for a city; “for he was looking for the city having the foundations, whose artificer and constructor [is] God.”(Heb. 11:10 YLT)
So in closing, I ask you, dear reader, is your foundation something other than Jesus Christ? Are you relying on yourself, or on someone else to help you down through life’s rugged roads? If this be the case with you, you will never stand the test of time, because you have a foundation that is nothing more than sinking sand. Build your house upon Christ, build it upon that “Stone the builder’s rejected and became the Chief corner Stone”(Psa. 118:22, Isa. 28:16, Matt. 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17) and you won’t “be babes, tossed and borne about by every wind of the teaching, in the sleight of men, in craftiness, unto the artifice of leading astray.”(Eph. 4:14 YLT)
I keep hearing…and reading…how God has given fallen mankind free will, and with this free will, they can either exercise it and be saved, or refuse to use it and die lost. In this schema, it renders God impotent, bowing to man’s will over His. It puts sinners in the proverbial driver’s seat, and not God…they are the “fulfillers” or their own destiny. Now, before I delve into His Word, let’s learn the definition of “free will” and also “free”.
I fouhd this definiton of free will from the merriam-webster website:
free will noun
: the ability to choose how to act
free adjective \ˈfrē\
: not costing any money
: not held as a slave or prisoner
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.In him was life; and the life was the light of men.And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:1-5) I actually like the ESV’s rendering of verse 5 better when it states, “and the darkness has not overcome it.”
In this day and time, we who are referred to as Calvinists…not in a flattering way, either, have been slanderously accused of saying a sinner does not have any say whatsoever in regards to his salvation. That couldn’t be further from the truth. That being said, we just believe…or at least I do…that God doesn’t irrestibably draw all mankind. There is a gospel call to repentance that the preacher makes in his sermon, but the effectual call, only that which the Master can do, is a command, and not merely an appeal to be reconciled. Now that I have laid the groundwork, the foundation, if you will, I will expound on the verses in my blog title.
In Mark 13:35-37, Jesus speaks these words, “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” At this point in time, it seems like we, as preachers, beat our heads against the wall when we preach(or at least I do). We preach Christ, and Him crucified, as our risen Saviour, as our Redeemer, and yet people sit in their seats and yawn. It seems like they’re there to either make themselves feel better about themselves(I went to church today, so I’ve done my good deed for the week), to shut someone up in their family(I went to church today, so now they’ll hopefully shut up), to impress someone who pleases their eyes(maybe they’re a Godly person who only wants someone who’s a christian. too), or some other ulterior motive. People like this are spiritually asleep. I know that we’re spiritually dead, but there are references to us being asleep spiritually, too…as in my blog title. No matter how hard we preach, no matter how many scriptures we throw at them, no matter how much love we show them, no matter how many times we plead with them to be reconciled to God, if God hasn’t done that special inward work we call the effectual call, they’re still in their bed asleep; with a nice fluffy pillow under their head, a nice warm comforter covering them, and laying in a king-sized pillow-topped bed. Sin has a way of making people feel comfortable, and that’s how satan deceives people. He makes them feel good about their lost condition, about gallivanting with the ladies, drinking themsleves into stupors, shooting themselves up with heroine, snorting those lines of cocaine, &c. Unless God intercedes on their behalf, they will never change. Unless God impresses upon their lost condition, they’ll remain asleep, and they’ll enjoy it all the way to the grave.
Now I want to back up a few verses in this chapter: “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.”(vss. 32-34) Those who the man left in authority over his house, thought their master would delay his coming. So they did that which would have appeared unseemly before his eyes, yet they did it anyways, not expecting him to appear when he did.
In Luke 12, Jesus spoke of this when He said, “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”(vss. 37-48) These servants did as they pleased, but were caught with their proverbial pants down, and paid mightily. Suffice to say if someone was on the roof of the house and told them their master was coming, they wouldn’t have done anything about it. People nowadays have a “devil-may-care” attitude, not truly believing God will cast them into eternal torment. We are telling them their Master is coming, and yet, they do that which appears unseemly to them. We’re repeatedly telling them to watch and pray, to seek after Him, to “get outta bed and do something about the welfare of your soul”, and yet they just roll over, tuck their chins under the comforter, fluff their pillow, and keep on sleeping.
In Matthew 25, Jesus told the parable of the ten virgins; five being wise and five being foolish. “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”(vss 1-13) These virgins were waiting for the Bridegroom to come and were sleeping. Yet at the time when He came, only those who had oil in their lamps got to go in to be with Him. Some may think this passage is a stretch to prove my point, but not so. The point of this is that regardless we’re spiritually dead…or asleep, or physically dead, we have not the power, neither the ability to bring ourselves out of that state. It takes God to do that which we can’t. And when He starts it, He finishes it. We as christians, and especially we who are preachers, need to be out proclaiming the whole counsel of God, telling people what they must do in order to be saved. God is the One who saves, but He does so via His Word, His gospel. We have to go out and tell people and not expect Him to do it all. He has chosen to use the preaching of the gospel to save them which believe(Romans 1:16, 1 Cor. 1:21, Eph. 1:13). So we have to go out and tell people to get outta bed.
In Acts chapter 20, we read of a fellow by the name of Eutychus who had fallen asleep in a window whilst Paul was preaching. “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.”(vss 7-12) Why he was in the upper chamber, none of us are privy to. Could it have been hot and he was there in the third loft next to a window to cool himself off? Had he worked hard all day and was tired and that was what caused him to fall asleep and fall three stories to the ground? Regardless, here was a man who was hearing, no doubt, one of the greatest orators of all time, and he fell asleep at the wheel, so-to-speak!! Yet, Paul fell upon him and revived him. People are the same way, even unto this day. They can hear a very blessed preacher preach and they pay him no more mind than the “man on the moon”.
To bring this blog to a close, in Ephesians 5, Apostle Paul wrote, “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”(vs 14) This isn’t an appeal, but rather, a command. It doesn’t say “please get up”, or “will you choose to get up?”, or “get up whenever you want to”, but “Awake and arise from the dead!!” Now, this is a prime example of God’s quickening, God’s regenerating at work. None of us have/had the ability to rise up from the grave, or to awake ourselves from our deep slumbering. Only God can do that.
I will leave you with these verses:
Romans 13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
Isaiah 51:17 Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out.
Isaiah 52:1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.