Judgment and the Love of God

The time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God . . . —1 Peter 4:17

The Christian servant must never forget that salvation is God’s idea, not man’s; therefore, it has an unfathomable depth. Salvation is the great thought of God, not an experience. Experience is simply the door through which salvation comes into the conscious level of our life so that we are aware of what has taken place on a much deeper level. Never preach the experience— preach the great thought of God behind the experience. When we preach, we are not simply proclaiming how people can be saved from hell and be made moral and pure; we are conveying good news about God.

In the teachings of Jesus Christ the element of judgment is always brought out— it is the sign of the love of God. Never sympathize with someone who finds it difficult to get to God; God is not to blame. It is not for us to figure out the reason for the difficulty, but only to present the truth of God so that the Spirit of God will reveal what is wrong. The greatest test of the quality of our preaching is whether or not it brings everyone to judgment. When the truth is preached, the Spirit of God brings each person face to face with God Himself.

If Jesus ever commanded us to do something that He was unable to equip us to accomplish, He would be a liar. And if we make our own inability a stumbling block or an excuse not to be obedient, it means that we are telling God that there is something which He has not yet taken into account. Every element of our own self-reliance must be put to death by the power of God. The moment we recognize our complete weakness and our dependence upon Him will be the very moment that the Spirit of God will exhibit His power.

http://utmost.org/judgment-and-the-love-of-god/

What Is “Not From Yourselves”? by Mark D. Roberts

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Over the last several days, we have been paying close attention to the first part of Ephesians 2:8, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith.” We have seen that salvation comes from God on the basis of his grace. It is not something we earn in any way. Rather, we receive this salvation when we put our trust in God to save us through Christ.

The second half of verse 8 underscores this truth in different language: “and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” We might wonder what “this” refers to, exactly. What is not from ourselves? Grace? Salvation? Faith?

Once more, we need to study the grammar of verse 8. In English, the proximity of “this” to “faith” suggests that faith is not from ourselves. A few commentators read the verse this way. But the original Greek does not support this reading. Ancient Greek, like many contemporary languages, such as Spanish, French, and German, identifies nouns and pronouns according to gender (masculine, feminine, neuter). The Greek word for “faith” (pistis) is feminine. But the pronoun “this” (touto) is neuter. If Paul had wanted to say that faith, in particular, is not from ourselves, he would have used a feminine pronoun. But, there isn’t a neuter noun in the first part of verse 8 that serves as the antecedent for “this.” Therefore, it’s best to understand that “this” refers to the whole thought: “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith.” That which is not from ourselves is “salvation-by-grace-through-faith.” All of this comes from God.

The more we take this truth to heart, the more we will live our lives in dependence and gratitude. We will depend on God for grace each day. We will rely on God to help us trust him more and more. As we do, our hearts will be filled with gratitude for the fact that God has done and is doing what we could never do ourselves. God has saved us and is saving us from deathly lives, from lives of bondage, from lives without purpose. Vital, full, eternal, fruitful life is not from ourselves, but from God. He offers this quality of life to you today.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: In what ways do you depend on God each day? How do you experience and express your gratitude to God for his salvation?

PRAYER: Gracious God, how thankful I am that salvation does not come from me. I couldn’t pull it off. I can’t do it myself. But you can do—and have done—what I could not do. You have taken my sin upon yourself. You have broken the power of sin and death. You have reached out to me in love, saving me from a life of death and giving me the gift of true life. How I thank you, Lord! May I live my life today depending on you, filled with gratitude, because salvation is not from me, but from you. Amen.

http://www.thehighcalling.org/reflection/what-not-yourselves?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheHighCallingDailyReflections+%28Daily+Reflection+%26+Prayer%29

“I will be as the dew unto Israel.” Hosea 14:5

Sometimes the Lord, without applying his word with any very great and distinguishing power to the heart, makes his truth to drop with a measure of sweetness into the soul. This is as rain or dew, according to his own gracious declaration, “My doctrine shall drop as the rain; my speech shall distil as the dew” (Deut. 32:2). The dropping, then, of his doctrine, or, as the word means, his “teaching,” as rain, and the distilling of his gracious speech as dew, kindle in the soul a love of the truth, and wherever this is felt there is salvation, for we read of those who perish that “they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10). There is a receiving of the truth, and a receiving of the love of the truth. These two things widely differ. To receive the truth will not necessarily save; for many receive the truth who never receive the love of the truth. Professors by thousands receive the truth into their judgment, and adopt the plan of salvation as their creed; but are neither saved nor sanctified thereby. But to receive the love of the truth by the truth as it is in Jesus being made sweet and precious to the soul, is to receive salvation itself. It is in this way that the gospel is made the power of God unto salvation; and therefore the Apostle, speaking of “the preaching of the cross,” says that “it is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” Now it is impossible that this power should be felt without its having an alluring effect upon the soul, whereby it comes out from every evil thing and cleaves to the Lord with purpose of heart.

http://devotionals.ochristian.com/j-c-philpot-daily-portions.shtml

God’s Total Surrender to Us

For God so loved the world that He gave . . . —John 3:16

Salvation does not mean merely deliverance from sin or the experience of personal holiness. The salvation which comes from God means being completely delivered from myself, and being placed into perfect union with Him. When I think of my salvation experience, I think of being delivered from sin and gaining personal holiness. But salvation is so much more! It means that the Spirit of God has brought me into intimate contact with the true Person of God Himself. And as I am caught up into total surrender to God, I become thrilled with something infinitely greater than myself.

To say that we are called to preach holiness or sanctification is to miss the main point. We are called to proclaim Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:2). The fact that He saves from sin and makes us holy is actually part of the effect of His wonderful and total surrender to us.

If we are truly surrendered, we will never be aware of our own efforts to remain surrendered. Our entire life will be consumed with the One to whom we surrender. Beware of talking about surrender if you know nothing about it. In fact, you will never know anything about it until you understand that John 3:16 means that God completely and absolutely gave Himself to us. In our surrender, we must give ourselves to God in the same way He gave Himself for us— totally, unconditionally, and without reservation. The consequences and circumstances resulting from our surrender will never even enter our mind, because our life will be totally consumed with Him.

http://utmost.org/god%e2%80%99s-total-surrender-to-us/

Jonah 2:9 Salvation is of the Lord.

Salvation is the work of God. It is He alone who quickens the soul “dead in trespasses and sins,” and it is He also who maintains the soul in its spiritual life. He is both “Alpha and Omega.” “Salvation is of the Lord.” If I am prayerful, God makes me prayerful; if I have graces, they are God’s gifts to me; if I hold on in a consistent life, it is because He upholds me with His hand. I do nothing whatever towards my own preservation, except what God Himself first does in me. Whatever I have, all my goodness is of the Lord alone. Wherein I sin, that is my own; but wherein I act rightly, that is of God, wholly and completely. If I have repulsed a spiritual enemy, the Lord’s strength nerved my arm. Do I live before men a consecrated life? It is not I, but Christ who liveth in me. Am I sanctified? I did not cleanse myself: God’s Holy Spirit sanctifies me. Am I weaned from the world? I am weaned by God’s chastisements sanctified to my good. Do I grow in knowledge? The great Instructor teaches me. All my jewels were fashioned by heavenly art. I find in God all that I want; but I find in myself nothing but sin and misery. “He only is my rock and my salvation.” Do I feed on the Word? That Word would be no food for me unless the Lord made it food for my soul, and helped me to feed upon it. Do I live on the manna which comes down from heaven? What is that manna but Jesus Christ himself incarnate, whose body and whose blood I eat and drink? Am I continually receiving fresh increase of strength? Where do I gather my might? My help cometh from heaven’s hills: without Jesus I can do nothing. As a branch cannot bring forth fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can I, except I abide in Him. What Jonah learned in the great deep, let me learn this morning in my closet: “Salvation is of the Lord.”

http://www.crosswalkmail.com/ShareArticle.do?perform=view&articleID=sjvsrvmbs&siteID=hbnhqmvwhnhvfwgsrpljlvmfbrrfncvlqqg&recipID=526889780

The Call of God

Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel . . . —1 Corinthians 1:17

Paul states here that the call of God is to preach the gospel. But remember what Paul means by “the gospel,” namely, the reality of redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are inclined to make sanctification the goal of our preaching. Paul refers to personal experiences only by way of illustration, never as the end of the matter. We are not commissioned to preach salvation or sanctification— we are commissioned to lift up Jesus Christ (see John 12:32). It is an injustice to say that Jesus Christ labored in redemption to make me a saint. Jesus Christ labored in redemption to redeem the whole world and to place it perfectly whole and restored before the throne of God. The fact that we can experience redemption illustrates the power of its reality, but that experience is a byproduct and not the goal of redemption. If God were human, how sick and tired He would be of the constant requests we make for our salvation and for our sanctification. We burden His energies from morning till night asking for things for ourselves or for something from which we want to be delivered! When we finally touch the underlying foundation of the reality of the gospel of God, we will never bother Him anymore with little personal complaints.

The one passion of Paul’s life was to proclaim the gospel of God. He welcomed heartbreak, disillusionment, and tribulation for only one reason— these things kept him unmovable in his devotion to the gospel of God.

http://utmost.org/the-call-of-god/

Do You See Your Calling?

. . . separated to the gospel of God. . . —Romans 1:1

Our calling is not primarily to be holy men and women, but to be proclaimers of the gospel of God. The one all-important thing is that the gospel of God should be recognized as the abiding reality. Reality is not human goodness, or holiness, or heaven, or hell— it is redemption. The need to perceive this is the most vital need of the Christian worker today. As workers, we have to get used to the revelation that redemption is the only reality. Personal holiness is an effect of redemption, not the cause of it. If we place our faith in human goodness we will go under when testing comes.

Paul did not say that he separated himself, but “when it pleased God, who separated me . . .” (Galatians 1:15). Paul was not overly interested in his own character. And as long as our eyes are focused on our own personal holiness, we will never even get close to the full reality of redemption. Christian workers fail because they place their desire for their own holiness above their desire to know God. “Don’t ask me to be confronted with the strong reality of redemption on behalf of the filth of human life surrounding me today; what I want is anything God can do for me to make me more desirable in my own eyes.” To talk that way is a sign that the reality of the gospel of God has not begun to touch me. There is no reckless abandon to God in that. God cannot deliver me while my interest is merely in my own character. Paul was not conscious of himself. He was recklessly abandoned, totally surrendered, and separated by God for one purpose— to proclaim the gospel of God (see Romans 9:3).

http://utmost.org/do-you-see-your-calling/